ORLANDO, Fla. » The LPGA Tour Championship is more than just a season finale this year.
There are razor-thin margins that could decide player of the year honors and the top spot in the world rankings, adding intrigue to the tournament that begins today at Grand Cypress Golf Club.
For the first time in a decade, Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam won’t win player of the year. That leaves five in the field with an opportunity to take home the LPGA’s top honor.
"We have got big pressure," said Jiyai Shin, who begins play with the top spot. Shin and Na Yeon Choi have a chance to be the first Koreans to win player of the year.
Cristie Kerr could become the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to claim the award. Yani Tseng would be the first from Taiwan, and Ai Miyazato of Japan is also in contention.
Miyazato, however, can’t finish No. 1 in the world rankings, but Suzann Pettersen, who doesn’t have enough points to win player of the year, can move into the top spot with a victory.
LPGA changes gender rule
LPGA players have voted to allow transgender players to compete on tour in response to a lawsuit filed by a California woman who had her sex changed five years ago.
The players voted to remove the "female at birth" requirement from the tour’s constitution at a year-end meeting.
Lana Lawless, a former police officer who had the sex change operation, filed the federal lawsuit in San Francisco in October claiming the "female at birth" requirement violated California’s civil rights law.