Top 10 moments from 2012 LPGA season

Lydia Ko is doused with water by Stacy Lewis, Jiyai Shin in celebration of her three-shot victory at the Canadian Women's Open.
Lydia Ko is doused with water by Stacy Lewis, Jiyai Shin in celebration of her three-shot victory at the Canadian Women's Open. ( Getty Images )

Sunday, December 9, 2012

From the 15-year-old Lydia Ko winning on the LPGA tour to what happened to the 2012 roller coaster that was Yani Tseng, our Beth Ann Baldry takes a look back at the memorable season . . .

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1. Lydia Ko, eh?

Hands down the most impressive moment of the year came at the CN Canadian Women’s Open when Lydia Ko birdied five out of six holes on the back nine Sunday to become the youngest player to win an LPGA title at 15 years, 4 months and 2 days. She can’t legally drive a golf cart, yet has the chops to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur and an LPGA event in back-to-back weeks.

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2. Stacy Lewis’ Player of the Year speech

The Americans’ 18-year drought came to an end when Lewis got on stage to accept her Rolex Player of the Year trophy. What followed was a 15-minute heartfelt speech that left many in the room reaching for a tissue. Lewis’ childhood scoliosis makes her an inspiration to countless kids who wear a back brace 20 hours a day. She’s the anti-academy kid. The gritty kid from Texas who defied all odds.

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3. What happened to Yani Tseng?

It was a roller-coaster year for Yani Tseng, the once-dominant player who lost her way over the summer. Tseng was a trooper this year, however, honestly answering questions about her slump without getting cranky with reporters. In fact, she was as gracious with the media at the end of 2012 as she was after a 12-win 2011.

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4. I.K. Kim’s heartbreak

The most talked about shot of the year belonged to I.K. Kim, whose tap-in to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship horseshoed around the cup. It was a cruel finish for Kim, who made light of the episode months later on Golf Channel. Safe to say the gaffe will follow Kim the rest of her days.

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5. The playoff that would never end

Jiyai Shin and Paula Creamer played the 18th hole at Kingsmill eight times before darkness fell, suspending their sudden-death playoff. They returned the next morning and finished it on the par-4 16th with a Creamer three-putt. The abrupt ending felt like someone popped a balloon. Shin followed that marathon with a victory at the weather-challenged Ricoh Women’s British Open for an impressive one-two punch.

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6. NYC’s Blackwolf Run

Na Yeon Choi gave us the perfect bookend with her U.S. Women’s Open victory at Blackwolf Run. Her Saturday 65 certainly was one of the most impressive rounds of the year. Choi and 1998 winner Se Ri Pak crossed paths early Sunday afternoon when their groups shared the double green on Nos. 9 and 18. The torch was passed.

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7. Morgan Pressel’s slow-play plight

Slow play is a hot-button issue every year on the LPGA. Morgan Pressel took it front and center with her controversial slow-play penalty at the Sybase Match Play Championship, when there were four players on the course. Pressel wound up losing the match and cried on Golf Channel afterwards when answering questions. Her opponent, Azahara Munoz, also cried.

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8. Shanshan Feng wins one for China

It’s still too early to tell what Feng’s victory at the Wegmans LPGA Championship will mean for our sport, but she lives in a country of 1.3 billion people. Feng, the first Chinese player to win an LPGA event, summed it up in the post-round interview: “I would say if Koreans can, Chinese can.”

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9. Inbee Park’s putting clinic at Evian

Inbee Park needed only 22 putts in her final-round triumph at the Evian Masters, birdieing the last three holes to push ahead of Stacy Lewis. The hefty paycheck ($487,500) helped her win the season-ending money title. Park also topped the tour’s season-long

putting stats, averaging 1.72 putts per green in regulation.

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10. Doug Brecht’s memorial cart

Players at the CME Group Titleholders stopped by to sign a customized golf cart for LPGA rules official Doug Brecht on the 17th hole, a touching tribute for a man who always had a seat open. Brecht, 62, died Oct. 12 from complications resulting from West Nile Meningitis. He is missed. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.