Ochoa, LPGA Set Mark

imageYoung LPGA superstar Lorena Ochoa quietly hit a milestone this last weekend when she won the Corona Merelia Championship in Mexico: She passed the $2 million mark in earnings for this season.

That’s a mark that has previously been reached on the LPGA by only Annika Sorenstam.

Meanwhile Sorenstam is on a pace for her sixth $2 million-plus season. It’s also possible that Karrie Webb could reach that mark this year.

Aside from the obvious implication that Ochoa is currently the heir apparent to Sorenstam’s long-held crown, there’s another note to follow here: that the purses on the LPGA are reaching record heights.

Not only does the tour have its three potential $2 million dollar winners, four others—Cristie Kerr, Mi Hyun Kim, Julie Inkster and Pat Hurst—have broken $1 million. Three more—Jeong Jang, Hee Won Han and Paula Creamer—also could easily join the $1 million club.

Nearly every tournament this year boasted an increased purse as the tour offered a record $50.25 million in prize money. That’s just short of the Champions Tour’s $52 million in prizes.  And while it’s dwarfed by the $250 million offered by the PGA Tour, I think it’s an indication of the increasing strength of the LPGA.

And here’s another interesting thought: While the PGA Tour’s increased popularity has been due to the popularity of a single player, the LPGA seems to be doing it with a bevy of interesting young stars. Meanwhile, media darling Michelle Wie has yet to become—and may never become—a full member of the tour.

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