Posted by: happyfan08 | May 4, 2010

Congratulations to the New #1 Jiyai Shin!!

This is a historic moment in women’s golf, and I would be remiss if I let it pass without a mention.  Congratulations to Jiyai Shin on becoming the first Korean golfer, male or female, to be officially recognized as the top golfer of his/her gender on the planet!

Jiyai Shin wins in Japan

It has been a long path to get here, and it might be a very tough fight to stay.  I have frequently argued about the accuracy of the Rolex Rankings, which seem to give far too much heft to playing on the Japanese LPGA tour and Ladies European Tour and not enough for starring on the Korean LPGA tour.  As a result, it took Jiyai, who dominated in Korea in 2006 – 2008, much longer to make an international rankings splash than she otherwise should have.  But forget about all that for a moment and take in the accomplishment instead.

This last weekend, the stars all aligned in one of those weird moments that sometimes happen.  A few weeks ago, Lorena Ochoa, the #1 women’s golfer in the world, suddenly announced that she would be retiring, immediately after her next event.  Before this, many had anticipated that Ochoa would soon be leaving the game.  She had always said she would not play the game after getting married, and she did just that last winter.  But when she started the 2010 season, it seemed to be business as usual, and most expected she would at least play out the year before quitting.

Apparently she found it too hard to focus on golf with her new family obligations, however, and her grip on the #1 ranking, which had been slipping for some time, was becoming ever more tenuous.  She probably felt that she would not be able to remain #1 much longer than last week’s Tres Marias event in Mexico, and so felt it was a perfect time to go out.

But as it turned out, she waited one week too long.  Jiyai Shin was not playing in Mexico, deciding instead to play an event on the JLPGA tour.  In the final round, Shin launched one of her patented come from behind efforts to make up four strokes and claim the victory.  This forced Ochoa to finish at least fifth to maintain her top ranking.  Ochoa wound up 6th, and by the slimmest of margins, Shin claimed the #1 spot in the world.

Jiyai Shin

It was an eerie mirror reflection of what had happened at the end of last season.  Shin had led the Player of the Year standings for some time, but Ochoa was slowly chipping away at that lead.  At the very last tournament of the year, the race came down to the final hole.  Had Shin made birdie there, she would have been Player of the Year, but her chip stopped next to the hole, and Ochoa won the trophy for the fourth time.  Last week, the shoe was on the other foot, with Ochoa missing retiring as #1 by the slimmest of margins (and yes, she does retire as #2, since her ranking needs to take into account all her tournaments, including this final one.  The fact that she was technically retired when the rankings were published does not alter that fact).

Shin was thrilled to achieve a feat that even the great Se Ri Pak was never able to attain (granted the Rolex rankings only started in 2006, long after Pak was past her prime, but Se Ri never attained the top spot on the LPGA tour, either).  But she will have some work to do to retain it.  Ai Miyazato won the event in Mexico to creep to third in the world, just fractions of a point behind Shin.  Miyazato will be playing in Japan this week, and Shin will have the week off, so if Miyazato has a half way decent finish, we could have a new #1 next week.

With luck, Shin will be able to establish herself as the firm #1 in the months ahead, but regardless of what happens here on out, she has made a historic statement this week.  Congratulations to her!!

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Responses

  1. The powers that be have stated that Ochoa went out as #1 as the time-line between Shin’s victory and Ochoa’s retiremnet kept at her #1 officially. All a numbers game it seems for Ochoa’s sake. Interesting to see in Shin can maintain the position with Miyazato playing so great right now. Christina Kim in her book said that Yani Tseng doesn’t have the disipline to be #1. She likes to party too much and not devote her free time to practice. It could be between Shin and Miyazato.

  2. A great achievement by Ji Yai Shin…all congratulations to her…however, at her peak, Se Ri Pak was a better player…just was unfortunate that Se Ri’s best years came during Annika’s best years…

  3. Hey, just finished watching LPGA in Wisconsin.
    Na Yeon Choi was amazing!
    Korean girls are pretty tough.

    Congratulations.. Keep up the good work.

  4. […]  “It’s Britney, B—-.” Perhaps Se Ri Pak, 32, can borrow the intro line from the American pop singer’s 2007 hit comeback single, Gimme More.  Just don’t call this a comeback.  Some thought the game had passed her by.  Some even wondered whether she had been obsoleted by younger, more powerful models. […]


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