Lydia Ko and Inbee Park – 2015

Lydia Ko leading the LPGA 2015 Top Money list
(1)   Lydia Ko of New Zealand is leading the LPGA 2015 money winner going into the season ending CME Group tournament at $2,758,417



Inbee Park is second LPGA 2015 top money winner going into the season ending tournament
(2)   Inbee Park of South Korea is the second leading money winner going into the final tournament of the 2015 season @ $2,570,096

LPGA 2015 Top Money Winner

One of these two gifted golfers will be the number one LPGA professional golfer for 2015. There are several ranking systems maintained that track professional women's golf.  The Rolex Rankings and the Professional World Golf Ranking (Women) are point systems, but the easiest one to track and follow is the LPGA Official Money List. It tracks tournament winnings only. They all end up with the same result, expressing the cumulative quality of play for all LPGA golfers as each tournament is completed.


It is updated after each LPGA tournament so the list changes to some degree after each tournament. At the end of the tournament season this will reveal the top money winner, establishing who has been the best golfer on the LPGA Tour in 2015. Lydia Ko of New Zealand and Inbee Park of South Korea alternated at the top spot for most of 2015.  Heading into the 2015 season ending tournament Lydia was #1 and Inbee was #2.  The likely third place finisher will be Stacy Lewis who was the top LPGA golfer in 2014 while Inbee Park was #2 and Lydia Ko was #3.


Early in the 2015 tournament schedule, Lydia became the youngest LPGA golfer to ever assume the lead on this top money list. After winning several tournaments, including the Women’s PGA Championship, Inbee held down the top money spot for about 4 months during the summer and fall . Lydia stayed in second place until passing Inbee after the KEB HanaBank Championship.

Lydia Ko is a new force in the LPGA
(3)   Lydia Ko is rapidly becoming a force in the LPGA, creating a friendly rivalry with Inbee.

Inbee Park the established force on the LPGA tour.
(4)   Inbee Park has been a force on the LPGA tour for at least 4 years.  We have a friendly rivalry!

Lydia lengthened her lead over Inbee after the Blue Bay tournament in China. An injured finger on her left hand forced Inbee to withdraw from the tournament. She had been battling this sore finger for several weeks, and it finally required minor surgery to remove a cyst that had developed. The left hand is such an important part of the golf grip affecting both power and accuracy.


But Inbee’s showing in the Lorena Ochowa tournament indicated her hand was totally healed and that she was ready to charge into the last tournament of the year. Lydia did not play in the Lorena Ochowa tournament, choosing instead to rest up for the season ending 2015 CME Group tournament.

Inbee Park   

Inbee has been on the LPGA Tour since 2007. Born in South Korea, she started playing golf when she

Inbee Park, a leading LPGA career money winner
(5)   Inbee Park, South Korea
Started playing golf at 10
Family moved to the US when she was 12

was 10.  Inspired by Se Ri Pak, considered the mother of women’s professional golf in South Korea, she moved to the US with her family when she was 12 so she could developed her game participating in the American Junior Golf Association. She won 9 AJGA events and was a Rolex Junior All-American five times before joining the LPGA in 2007 as soon as she was 18 years old.


In 2008 Inbee won the LPGA US Women’s Open tournament. At 19 she was the youngest player to date to win this major tournament finishing four strokes ahead of the field. Struggling with her game the next couple of years she came storming back in 2012 scoring in the top three in 10 of the 23 tournaments she played. She ended the 2012 season as the LPGA top money winner and the Vare Trophy winner for the lowest scoring average.


She continued this pace in 2013 winning 6 tournaments, including three majors.  By winning 3 tournaments in a row that year she accomplished an LPGA feat surpassed only by Lorena Ochoa’s four consecutive tournament wins back in 2008.   Inbee's rankings in the LPGA world of golf were skyrocketing. She ended the year as the 2013 LPGA Top Money Winner with the third lowest scoring average.

Inbee Park won the LPGA US Open at 19 in 2008
(6)   Turning Pro at 18   *   Won her first LPGA US Open at 19 in 2008  *  Has won this major tournament 3 times so far in her career

Inbee won 3 more tournaments in 2014 competing in only 23 of the 33 tournaments on the schedule, taking time out to get married.  Even with this understandable distraction she ended the year as a runner up for the top money winner spot and lowest scoring average. While not quite as successful as 2013 she won her fifth major tournament, the LPGA Championship, and brought her career total tournament wins to 12 since 2007.


She won her 13th LPGA tournament the first week in March of the 2015, the HSBC Women's Championship, never relinquishing the lead for the entire tournament. With a 2 shot lead going into the final round she was paired with Lydia Ko and Stacy Lewis.  Her final round of 70 gave her a wire to wire tournament win over tournament runner up Lydia Ko.

Inbee Park leading LPGA money winner 2013 and 2014
(7)   Inbee Park has 17 career tournament wins to date  *  Was the top LPGA money winner in 2013 & 2014  *  Has been on Top 10 Money List 4 times

Inbee’s 16th tournament win was the 2015 British Open giving her the distinction of being only the seventh player in history to win four different major tournaments, an LPGA Grand Slam. She over took Lydia in the top money rankings and held it until mid October when Lydia won the KEB- HanaBank Championship.

Lydia Ko

Lydia was born in South Korea, but emigrated to New Zealand with her parents when she was very young. She started playing golf in New Zealand when she was only 5 years old. Her fascination with the game quickly turned into dedication as she practiced and played relentlessly.

Lydia Ko started playing golf when she was 5 years old.
(8)   Lydia Ko from New Zealand  *  Started playing golf at 5 years old  *   Competed in the NZ National Amateur Golf Championship at the age of 7

At seven years old she was competing in Aukland’s national amateur championships. At the age of 14 she became the youngest person to ever win a professional golf tournament winning the BingLee/Samsung Open, an Australian LPG tournament, where she had come in second the year before as a 13 year old.


In 2012 Lydia became the youngest to ever win an LPGA tour event, the Canadian Women’s Open, playing as an amateur golfer. The $300,000 purse was awarded to the tournament runner up Inbee Park. She repeated in 2013, again winning the Canadian Women’s Open as an amateur only this time the $300,000 purse went to runner up Karine Icher of France.

Lydia Ko won her first Pro tournament playing as an Amateur
(9)   Lydia won her first Pro tournament as an amateur playing in an Asian LPGA tournament and was the top World Amateur Golfer for 130 weeks before she joined the LPGA

Competing as an amateur, Lydia lost the 2013 Evian Championship in France by only 2 strokes to Suzann Pettersen of Norway.  Playing as an amateur since 2010 she never missed a cut in 25 professional golf tournaments. After being the top ranked amateur female golfer for 130 weeks, she officially turned Pro in October 2013 after consulting with her golf coach and parents, preempting a previous announcement that she would turn Pro in 2014.


In 2014 Lydia won the Swinging Skirts Classic with a $270,000 purse, the Marathon Classic with a

Lydia Ko won her first Pro tournament at 14, competing as an amateur
(10)   Entering the 2015 season ending tournament Lydia was holding down the LPGA Top Money List at $2,758,417

$210,000 purse, and the season ending CME Group Tour Championship with a $500,000 purse. She went to the bank with a cool $1 Million bonus check (not part of her official LPGA winnings) for winning this event. She was on fire as a young 18 year old LPGA golfer winning $980,000 and becoming the youngest ever to win the LPGA Rookie of the Year award.


Early on after her first 2015 victory Lydia took the lead as the 2015 LPGA Top Money Winner, but relinquished the lead back to Inbee until late in the season when she won the KEB-HanaBank tournament. She extended her lead over Inbee, who had to pull out of the LPGA Blue Bay tournament because of an injured finger.


Lydia chose not to compete in the 2015 Lorena Ochoa Invitational tournament so she could rest up for the season ending CME Group Tour Championship back in the US. Inbee ended up winning the tournament so entering CME Group tournament Lydia’s top money lead over Inbee had been reduced to $188,321.

The CME Group Showdown

This was going to be a great season ending tournament. With a $500,000 purse, the season ending top money winner would be decided between Inbee and Lydia. Everyone else was more than $500,000 back of Lydia.


So who was it going to be … Lydia Ko or Inbee Park. I love Lydia’s game. She has a classic golf swing and is as mentally tough as they come. Some say the strongest part of her game is her mental toughness. That’s saying a lot for a young women who is only 18 years old.


On the other hand, Inbee is a proven winner. She has already won over $12 Million in her LPGA career, and has a way of coming up big in big tournaments.  The 2015 CME Group Tour Championship is a big tournament. 

The Final Results

 Well the showdown between Lydia and Inbee didn't materialize thanks to a powerful tournament  played by Christie Kerr of the US.  Her 4 round total of 271 was 17 strokes under par, and she walked away with the $500,000 purse.  Inbee Park came in 6th place at 276, 12 strokes under par.  Lydia Ko ended in a four way tie for 7th place at 277, 11 strokes under par.  Not what I was expecting, but both golfers ended the year as winners.

Lydia Ko has had a great year in 2015
(11)   2015 Final Results - 5 tournament wins  *  LPGA Player of the Year  *  Scoring Leader (Vare Trophy) Runner Up  *  $2,800,802 tour winnings  *  $4,889,835 career to date winnings

Inbee Park has had a great year in 2015
(12)   2015 Final Results - 5 tournament wins  *  LPGA Player of the Year Runner Up  *  Scoring Leader (Vare Trophy)  *  $2,630,011 tournament winnings  *  $12,580,995 career to date winnings

Those are tremendous accomplishments by these friendly rivals and sets up high expectations for the coming 2016 LPGA season.  They battled for the top money spot all year and both earned over $725,000 than the next golfer on the LPGA  Top 10 Money List.  Both are relaxing with family, resting up for the beginning of the 2016 LPGA tournament season in late January at the Pure Silk - Bahamas LPGA Classic.  I can't wait.


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