COMMENTARY | Stacy Lewis and Na Yeon Choi had quite a duel at the HSBC Women's Champions 2013, one that saw Lewis leave Singapore with her arms around the championship trophy after having prevailed by the margin of a single stroke.
It was a head-to-head matchup between the two finest female golfers on the planet, regardless of what the Rolex rankings say.
Choi is ranked second in the world at present, while Lewis sits in the third slot.
But Yani Tseng, who's currently ranked No. 1, hasn't won a tournament in nearly a year and the gap separating her from her peers has narrowed considerably.
Both Choi and Lewis have impeccable credentials.
Choi, who is 25, has won seven times in her five-plus years on the LPGA Tour. The reigning U.S. Women's Open champion topped the money list in 2010 and won the Vare Trophy that same year for having the tour's lowest scoring average.
Lewis, who just turned 28, is the reigning LPGA Player of the Year. She has six official LPGA wins in four-plus seasons, including the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
It's been a while since the LPGA has had a one-on-one rivalry; you'd likely have to go back to when Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb were battling for No. 1 honors in the late-1990s and early-2000s.
There have been dominant individual players since then: Sorenstam until she retired at the end of the 2008 season, and then Lorena Ochoa until she stepped away midway through the 2010 season.
But one-on-one rivalries have been exceedingly rare in women's golf, particularly at a time when then it could be argued that the level of talent on the LPGA Tour is as deep as it has ever been
Lewis and Choi are part of a select group of LPGA players who are a serious threat to win every time they tee it up. If they can maintain their level of excellence the stage is set for an enduring rivalry that will leave its mark in the annals of the sport, one that will see the two of them battle for tournament trophies, major championships, and end-of-season awards.
It should be noted that Lewis and Choi are as good for their sport off the golf course as they are inside the ropes. Both relate well to golf fans and the media.They understand the big picture.
We can only hope that a Lewis-Choi rivalry, if indeed develops, is not tainted by jingoistic balderdash, that golf fans who truly appreciate the sport won't care that Lewis is an American while Choi is a native of South Korea.
Both athletes have earned the right to be judged on their abilities and people skills, rather than by their country of birth.
It is our hope that their battle in Singapore was just the first installment of a long and memorable series.
Rick Woelfel is the editor and publisher of Women's Golf Report. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and resides near Philadelphia.
- Sports & Recreation
- Na Yeon Choi
- Stacy Lewis