NAPLES, FLA. (AP) - Na Yeon Choi finished last year by winning the LPGA Titleholders and buying a new house at Isleworth outside Orlando. She was No. 2 on the money list with nearly $2 million. She was No. 2 in the world. She was the U.S. Women’s Open champion.
One year later, Choi was missing from the conversation.
Inbee Park won three straight majors and last week clinched LPGA player of the year, the first South Korean to win that award. Suzann Pettersen has challenged Park and has a chance this week to win the LPGA money list. Stacy Lewis, who rose to No. 1 earlier in the year, has a slim lead in the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average.
As for Choi?
She gave up the lead on the back nine at St. Andrews and tied for second behind Stacy Lewis in the Women’s British Open. She was runner-up in the HSBC Champions in Singapore. And those were the highlights. Choi has failed to win a tournament, has slipped to No. 6 in the world and is No. 9 on the money list.
Choi has won at least $1 million the last five years. She needs $80,000 at the Titleholders to keep that streak going.
“I think I put a lot of pressure on myself at the beginning of the season,” Choi said Tuesday. “I started the season No. 2 in the world, and I really, really want to be No. 1. But I think I got too much pressure, too much to think about _ winning a tournament or about the results and lower scores.”
Choi’s solution is to go back to being a rookie. That means working harder and not worrying about results. As a rookie, she had no fear.
“But right now, I’m kind of scared to play, too much thinking, too much worry about,” she said. “So I really want to go back to how I started golf, or when I came to the LPGA Tour, that kind of demeanor.”
SPIETH TO SHERWOOD: Jordan Spieth’s first round of the year was a pre-qualifier to get into the Monday qualifier at Torrey Pines. His last round will be at Sherwood Country Club, a last-minute alternate to the Christmas holiday bonus known as the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods.
Spieth was selected as an alternate Tuesday to replace Brandt Snedeker, who is being extra cautious from a slight knee surgery from when he lost his balance on a Segway during a corporate outing in Shanghai.
The World Challenge is Dec. 5-8.
Spieth never needed that qualifier for the Farmers Insurance Open. He got in on a late sponsor’s exemption, missed the cut, and then headed off to the Web.com Tour. His plans shifted to the PGA Tour in March, and the results were amazing _ enough money to secure a card, a win at the John Deere Classic to instantly get his card, No. 7 in the FedEx Cup standings and a spot in the Presidents Cup.
Sherwood will be a bonus.