THREE IS GREAT, FOUR IS UNPRECEDENTED
Three-time defending Champion Inbee Park is the first player since Annika Sorenstam in 2005 to win a single major championship three consecutive times (Sorenstam won this Championship in 2003, ’04 and ’05). No player, however, has won any LPGA major championship four consecutive times. The only golfer, on any Tour, since 1900 to win a single major championship four straight years, without interruption, was Walter Hagen. He won four consecutive PGA Championships from 1924-27. Note that Tom Morris Jr. won four straight Open Championships from 1868-72, with the exception of 1871, when it was not contested.
DOES INBEE HAVE THE WRIGHT STUFF?
Inbee Park is also in hot pursuit of Mickey Wright, who won the formerly titled LPGA Championship a record four times (1958, 1960, ’61, and ’63). Park joins Nancy Lopez, Se Ri Pak, Annika Sorenstam and Kathy Whitworth as three-time winners of this Championship.
ROUNDING THIRD AND HEADING FOR HOME
This week at Sahalee, Ariya (“Air-ee-ah”) Jutanugarn is gunning for her fourth consecutive victory, as in her previous three entries, she won the LPGA Volvik Championship (May 26-29), the Kingsmill Championship Presented by JTBC (May 19-22) and the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic (May 5-8). Jutanugarn did not enter last week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer. To date, only six players in LPGA annals have won as many as four events in a row: Shirley Englehorn, Nancy Lopez, Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam, Kathy Whitworth, and Mickey Wright.
KO HAS A STREAK OF HER OWN
While the Inbee Park (three consecutive KPMG Women’s PGA Championships) and Ariya Jutanugarn (three straight victories) are riding impressive streaks, the No. 1 ranked player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Lydia Ko has won two straight LPGA major championships. Last September, Ko won the final major on the 2015 LPGA schedule, the Evian Championship, before claiming the ANA Inspiration in April. If Ko can win this week at Sahalee, she’d join Inbee Park (2013), Pat Bradley (1985-86), Mickey Wright (1961-62), and Babe Zaharias (1950) as the only women to win three straight majors.
When asked if there are any additional pressures associated with chasing a third consecutive LPGA major championship, Ko said, “I am going to play my own game, hit that one shot at a time and have fun. And I think that’s the key thing. When I think about it as, hey, this is a major, everyone wants to play well at a major, I think there’s just too much pressure.”
CARAFIELLO’S CADDIE OF STATURE & BOND TO A TEACHING LEGEND
PGA Teaching Professional Doug Spencer of Columbus, Ohio, will have a bird’s-eye view this week of his student, serving as caddie for PGA Professional Jessica Carafiello of Stamford, Connecticut. The 35-year-old owner of Spencer Golf Academies in Cincinnati and Fairfield, Ohio, Spencer met Carafiello 16 years ago while he was an apprentice professional at TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Florida, the facility where LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson began her career.
At the time, Carafiello was developing her game and the two became friends. Spencer, who earned PGA membership in 2004, is a native of Parkersburg, West Virginia, and owns Spencer Golf Academies in Cincinnati and Fairfield, Ohio.
“It’s always been friendship first and developing her game after,” said Spencer. “Golf is about building relationships, growing that relationship and seeing results.”
One common denominator for the twosome is 89-year-old PGA Hall of Famer Bob Toski. Spencer said that he couldn’t get enough of the Toski teaching regimen and philosophy.
“When I lived in Florida, I went and watched Mr. Toski teach three or four times a week,’ said Spencer, who said Toski greatly influenced his teaching methods. “Teaching fundamentals and everything overlaps. And great teachers teach fundamentals. He (Toski) is a very smart guy, great player and great teacher.”
In Carafiello’s case, she credits her late grandmother, Anne Carafiello, for fostering a Toski connection. Carafiello turned professional in 2005, and that year Anne happened to be on the practice range at the Toski-Battersby Golf Learning Center in Coconut Creek, Florida.
Anne spotted Toski, walked up to the teaching legend and said, “That’s my granddaughter over there, and I’d like you to work with her.” Anne Carafiello, who went on to witness her granddaughter’s advancement in golf, passed away this April at age 90.