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Brent Kelley

LPGA Player of the Year Race Back In Play

By October 29, 2012

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Just a few weeks ago it seemed as if Stacy Lewis had the LPGA's Player of the Year Award for 2012 wrapped up. No other player, it appeared following Lewis' win at the Navistar LPGA, could catch her.

Today, Lewis still is the strong favorite, but Inbee Park is making a late charge and could make it interesting - or even wrest the award out of Lewis' hands.

The LPGA uses a points formula - awarding points for Top 10 finishes in LPGA Tour events - to determine its Player of the Year. At the moment, Lewis holds a 28-point lead over Park, a gap that Park has narrowed considerably recently with a win several weeks ago at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and a runner-up finish last week in Taiwan.

There are three tournaments left on the 2012 LPGA schedule: This week's Mizuno Classic in Japan; next week's Lorena Ochoa Invitational; and the season-ending CME Group Titleholders Nov. 15-18.

In the Player of the Year points formula, a win is worth 30 points. That drops all the way to 12 points for second place. So if Park is going to catch Lewis, she must win one of the three remaining tournaments (technically, Park could do it with three straight runner-up finishes, but Lewis is probably going to earn more points, too).

It would be interesting to see which of these golfers would win a vote among LPGA players (the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award is decided by player vote), and which will win any media votes.

Neither Lewis nor Park won a major this year. Lewis has three LPGA wins in 2012: Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, Shoprite LPGA Classic and Navistar LPGA Classic. Park has two LPGA wins: Evian Masters and the Sime Darby. They each have one missed cut.

Lewis has been solid most of the year, and frequently great. Park started slow, but has been on fire since early June. In the tournaments played since June 7, Park has finished outside the Top 10 only once, and that was 15th place. She has five runner-ups plus third- and fourth-place finishes in that stretch, along with both her wins.

Taking at look at LPGA stats, Park leads the money list with Lewis second, but Park has a significant lead ($2.1 million to $1.6 million). Park leads the tour in putting average and putts per GIR. Park is second in scoring average and Lewis third.

Meanwhile, in other LPGA award news, So Yeon Ryu has officially clinched the Rookie of the Year award.

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