Several years ago, KPMG officials asked former LPGA commissioner Mike Whan a simple question: What’s the LPGA’s No. 1 pain point?
Answer: The lack of statistics and analytics.
KPMG stepped up to the challenge, launching the KPMG Performance Insights technology in 2021, which introduced strokes gained metrics to the LPGA for the first time. The data, collected by caddies, was first made available to the public earlier this year with the launch of a new website.
It’s not ShotLink, but it’s a step in the right direction as the LPGA tries to narrow the great data divide between the men’s and women’s game. Last July, the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach became the the first women’s professional tournament to provide ShotLink data, meaning fans could track every shot from every player in the field.
What would it take to get ShotLink every week? A whole lot of money.
In the meantime, here’s a look at 10 stats leaders from the 2023 season:
Three-time major winner In Gee Chun didn’t win a title this year, but she enjoyed some special moments at the tour’s biggest events. The only player on tour to record two aces this year, Chun’s first came when she holed out at the Chevron Championship on the 164-yard, par-3 17th hole in the third round.
Her second came at the historic U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach, when she struck a perfect shot on the 154-yard par-3 fifth hole during the final round. She then high-fived the crowd down the gallery ropes. It was the 33rd ace in USWO history.
Perfection at Pebble! 1️⃣
— U.S. Women's Open (@uswomensopen) July 9, 2023
Germany’s Polly Mack topped the driving distance category this year with a 281.750 average. The former Alabama player from Germany played in 17 events this season. The LPGA only measures two holes per tournament for distance off the tee.
China’s Xiaowen Yin, another rookie, came in second at 277.264 yards.
LPGA veteran Liz Salas led the way in driving accuracy this season, hitting 88.9 percent of fairways. The 34-year-old Salas only made 12 starts this season, making her total number of possible fairways (558) considerably lower than Ayaka Furue, who hit 84.8 percent of 1,214 possible fairways.
Salas has finished in the top 10 of this category the past nine seasons.
'Shy kids don’t get sweets'
For the past two seasons, Nelly Korda has finished second on tour in par-5 scoring. This year, however, the American star topped the category with a 4.54 average.
England’s Charley Hull finished third on the list with a 4.56 average and delivered one of the more memorable attempts at reaching a par-5 in two at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach, when she knew that she needed to do something special. Coming down the stretch on Sunday, Hull took an aggressive line under a tree with a 3-wood trying to reach the iconic 18th green in two to put pressure on leader Allisen Corpuz.
“You know the saying, shy kids don’t get sweets?” Hull asked her caddie shortly before taking a mighty big swing.
It marked a fun glimpse into the mindset of the two-time LPGA winner.
Shy kids don't get sweets. 🍭
— U.S. Women's Open (@uswomensopen) July 10, 2023
Three players finished the season with 12 eagles: Bailey Tardy, Jennifer Kupcho and Carlota Ciganda.
Many golf fans got acquainted with Tardy for the first time after she led the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach at the midway point. Tardy got there in large part thanks to back-to-back eagles on the par-5 sixth hole in the first two rounds. On Friday, the powerful Tardy hit a 306-yard drive on No. 6 to reach the par 5 in two and make eagle for a consecutive day. Tardy ultimately finished fourth at the USWO and made $482,136.
“I love this place,” said Tardy of her inspired play at Pebble. “It’s heaven on earth.”
Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, a six-time winner on the LPGA, led the tour in birdies with 369 over the course of 90 official rounds. Hataoka averaged 4.1 birdies per round, but she didn’t win a title this season. Her best finish, a share of second, came at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
Hae Ran Ryu finished second with 333 total birdies.
Angel Yin led the tour in strokes gained putting, gaining an average of 1.40 strokes on the field. Yin broke through with her first career victory this season at the Buick LPGA Masters in her 159th LPGA start. And the American did it in style, taking down Solheim Cup teammate and World No. 1 Lilia Vu in a playoff to collect her first title.
The long-hitting Yin also won $1 million for clinching the season-long Aon Risk Reward Challenge, saying a more conservative approach helped her claim the prize.
South Korea’s Mi Hyang Lee led the tour in sand saves, getting up and down 63.89 percent of the time. Lee found the bunker 72 times over the course of the season.
Rookie Grace Kim finished second at 63.53 percent, getting up-and-down in 54 of her 85 attempts.
Thai player Atthaya Thitikul led the tour in top-10 finishes by a mile with 13 in 21 starts. Three players, Hyo Joo Kim, Nelly Korda and Ruoning Yin posted nine top-10 finishes this season.
Thitikul also led the way in top-10 finishes by percent, at 62 percent.
While Thitikul didn’t win on tour this season, her consistent play did earn her the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average (69.533).
Minjee Lee led the tour in Strokes Gained: Approach, gaining an average of 1.53 strokes per round over the field. The two-time major winner averaged 75.2 percent of greens in regulation.
China’s Ruoning Yin, who rose to No. 1 in the world after winning the KPMG Women’s PGA, finished second in Strokes Gained: Approach for the season.
Lee, No. 5 in the Rolex Rankings, won two of her last four starts on the LPGA this season at the Kroger Queen City Championsip and BMW Ladies Championship.