With her victory on Sunday, Helen Alfredsson became the first player to win an LPGA event after captaining a Solheim Cup team. Her last win came in the 2003 Longs Drugs Challenge. Helen had endured a five-year drought prior to that win too – she hadn’t won since the 1998 Welch’s/Circle K Championship. Hopefully she won’t have to wait five years to win her next tournament. Oh yeah – now that Alfredsson is seventh on the money list, it’s safe to say she’s having a resurgent season now.
Thanks to the lack of wind and soft greens (and the overnight rains which supplied them), scoring at Evian was the best I’ve recorded – right at even par 72.
Na Yeon Choi certainly had the win in her grasp and her bogeys at 15 and 16 opened the door for Alfredsson and Park. But I was pleased to see her rebound and birdie the first two playoff holes (I would have put money on her being the first player to fall out) and she would have won had Helen not dropped that 12-footer on the second hole. I have a feeling NYC isn’t going to go down the Sophie Gustafson Ginn Tribute chute in the coming weeks.
Having said that, the news of Choi taking the lead in the Rookie of the Year point race mildly amuses me. She’s had a terrific season but so has Yani Tseng and there’s that little matter of the LPGA Championship that Yani won. Had Na Yeon won yesterday or at the State Farm the week before or if Yani had missed a few cuts (zero so far), I might be talking differently but right now my ROY front-runner is still Tseng.
This quality field makes it tough to pick a Big Surprise but I’m going with rookie Hee Young Park. Consistent play enabled her to finish T6 (her third Top 10 of 2008) with four under-par rounds and only six bogeys over the 72 holes. The Big Disappointment goes to Jee Young Lee, who missed the cut.
UPDATE: In case you're wondering, I didn't pick Alfredsson as Big Surprise because she finished second at the U.S. Open. Now I'm trying to figure out why I didn't pick her for that award at the Open (Maria Uribe and Stacy Lewis shared it). I never said these awards were scientific.
UPDATE 2: Although these awards aren't scientific, I would at least like them to be fair. While prepping for this week's Inside The LPGA show at PrimeSportsNetwork.com, I noticed that Jin Joo Hong's fourth-place finish was her first Top 10 finish of the year. Because I failed to notice that yesterday morning, I'm taking this week's Big Surprise Award from Hee Young Park (sorry!) and giving it to Hong instead.