By The 2017 European Solheim Cup Captain, Annika…
The year has just flown by. I can’t believe Thanksgiving is tomorrow and the golf season is winding down.
It’s been a great year for the game, especially women’s golf. So much excitement has been generated by many outstanding performances. The ladies have been lucky to play in many different places: kangaroo country in Australia, ultra-modern Singapore and its neighboring Asian countries, beautiful Evian in France, the links of Great Britain and, of course, across the U.S.
Last week was no exception as the top 68 players gathered in sunny Naples, Fla. to conclude the yearlong Race to the CME Globe. So much was at stake as the ladies battled for several prestigious annual awards. When I played competitively, I clearly remember coming into our final event, the Tour Championship, and knowing what it would take to be player of the year, clinch the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average, and top the money list. With so much on the line, my nerves were always shakier than normal that week.
As always, Rolex does a wonderful job supporting women’s golf and threw an elegant season-ending awards dinner on Thursday evening. Great food and conversation was complemented by videos that exhibited players’ accomplishments. I was honored to present the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award (which I was fortunate to win in 1995) to In Gee Chun. She has had a fabulous first year, capturing her second major championship among nine top-10 finishes. She also took home the Vare Trophy. I’m confident this is just the beginning for this talented young Korean player.
Once the tournament kicked off, all eyes were on Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn as they battled for the $1 million dollar bonus and Player of the Year recognition. It went down to the wire and wasn’t decided until the final 18 holes. Congratulations to Thailand’s superstar Ariya! I also would like to extend my very best wishes to Lydia, this year’s Rolex ANNIKA Major Award winner, who continues to impress with her amazing consistency.
I was also very excited to do some Solheim Cup scouting and see several of my fellow Euros continue to make their way up the Rolex World Rankings. Hats off to Charley Hull for her amazing performance. It was quite impressive to see the English rookie capture her first LPGA title with a bogey free, final-round 66. Beatriz Recari from Spain also had a very good tournament, finishing in the top four. They’re just two of the players I’ll be keeping a very close eye on as the 2017 Solheim Cup approaches.
With one month to go in 2016, some players will put the clubs away and take a break, while others will fly overseas to compete in LET events in Dubai and Qatar before getting some much-deserved rest. With so many young stars rounding into top form, 2017 promises to be an incredible season. I can’t wait!
But before we get there, I’d like to wish everyone Happy Thanksgiving. Let’s all take a few moments this week to be thankful for what life has to offer, while making new memories with family and friends.