Friday, December 9, 2016

How accurate were my 2016 top 40 player of the Year Predictions?

Trying to predict the LPGA is a very difficult task. Much harder than the PGA. 

The 2016 season was full of surprises:

  • There were 17 different winners.
  • There were winners from 12 different countries.
  • Five players won for the first time.
  • Unlike the 2015 season when 4 rookies won a total of six tournaments, only one tournament was won by a rookie.
  • The five major championships were won by five different players from five different countries.
It was a year that was almost impossible to predict, but I gave it a try.

Way back in January, before the season began, I made my predictions of who I thought would be the top players of 2016. I put it out there for the whole world to see, knowing in advance that people would focus on my massive misses (but that's what makes this so much fun)  Let's see how I did.

1- Lydia Ko - I certainly played it safe here. No big surprise that she finished 2nd for Player of the Year, and 2nd on the money list.

2- Inbee Park - She was injured early. No recap necessary.

3- Lexi Thompson - She won early in the year, but never got back into the winner's circle again. Her 9 top tens suggests a solid season, but I expected better. She finished 18th on the money list.

4- Stacy Lewis - I kept waiting for her breakthrough win. It never happened. In fact things got worse as the year went on. She finished 16th on the money list. It sure seemed even worse than that.

5- Hyo Joo Kim -  She won the first tournament of the season.....and then fell off dramatically the rest of the season.  She finished  twentieth on the money list. A real disappointment and a big miss on my part. 

6- Sei Young Kim - After finishing 4th on the 2015 money list, I predicted she would fall back a couple of spots. She finished 6th on the money list. Exactly where I placed her.

7- Shanshan Feng - After a very slow first half, she finished the season as the LPGA's hottest player. She finished 5th on the money list and 7th for player of the year.

8- Minjee Lee - After finishing 16th on the ML in 2015, I predicted she would be even better this year. She finishied 12th on the ML and 11th for POY.

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  Brooke Henderson finished 3rd on money list, and for Player of the Year honors, in her first full season on LPGA tour.

9- Brooke Henderson - I got blasted by many when I picked her to finish this high in her first full season. She finished third on ML and POY.

10- Amy Yang - I am certainly on a roll now. Although she failed to win in 2016, she was consistent enough to finish #12 on the Year's money list.

11- Suzann Pettersen - Struggled with a back problems for a good portion of the year, but that is no excuse as I knew that going in. She finished 22nd on the money list.

12- Anna Nordqvist - I did okay here. She finished 7th and 8th on the two lists.

13- Mirim Lee - She still hasn't found that magic that she displayed during her rookie season. After falling to #19 in 2015, I predicted she would improve to this spot. She did improve some, finishing 17th on the money list.

14- Ha Na Jang - With so many solid players coming out of South Korea, it is very difficult to rank them. Somebody has to be left out of the top ten. I left the wrong one out. After finishing 15th last season, I knew she would have another solid year. Just didn't expect a 5th place finish.

15- So Yeon Ryu - If she could only finish. Always consistent as attested by her 11 top ten finishes, but can't seem to do it on Sunday. After finishing 8th last year I figured a slight drop off with so many young stars out there now. She did drop, but just to #10.

16- Jessica Korda - After a poor 2015 where she finished #27, this year had to better. It was, but not by much, as attested by her 24th place finish on ML.

17- Alison Lee -  She had a horrible start to the season, and at one point missed 5 consecutive cuts. She was back to the old Ali in the second half of the season but could only make it to 38th on the ML.

18- Cristie Kerr - She finished 7th on the ML last year, and I predicted a big drop off this year. It was even bigger than I though. She finished 39th.

19- Morgan Pressel - After finishing 11th in 2015, I predicted she would fall back some this year also. She nearly fell off the planet, finishing 48th.

20- Charley Hull - After finishing 48th last year, I predicted a huge jump this year. She made me look good with her 15th place finish. I often wonder how good a player she would be if she ever took golf seriously. 

21- Brittany Lincicome - She finished 12th last year and once again I predicted a drop off here. She certainly did that and more, finishing #47.

Image result for In Gee Chun
In Gee Chun won the Vare Trophy in her rookie season.

22- In Gee Chun - My friends over at Seoulsisters.freeforums.net have not let me live this one down all year. I wish a had a dollar for every "I told you so" I have received. In my defense some of those same people told me that Q-Baek was going to be a huge star the year before. I thought predicting her here in the middle of the pack was a fair placement. As it turned out she won the Vare trophy, and finished #4 on the ML and POY. The strange part is she threw away quite a few chances to win. How good will she be when she learns how to finish? I now have to decide how high I want to rank Sung Hyun Park in 2017.

23- Na Yeon Choi - A complete train wreck! Fortunately for her she had a good first 1/3 of the season. She would go on to miss the cut in 9 of her last 12 starts. In the other 3 there was no cut, and she finished on the bottom of the standings with embarrassing scores. She better get herself straightened out fast or there will be no 2018.

24- Chella Choi - With so many new great players, I predicted she would fall back some from her #20 finish last year. She finished up at #34.

25- Jenny Shin - Her 27th place finish makes me look good here.

26- Azahara Munoz - She seemed almost invisible in 2016. We are still waiting for her to break through and record her first stroke-play victory. Her 43rd place finish was not up to her standards.

27- Yani Tseng - She had somewhat of a comeback season in 2015 with her 21st place finish. I didn't buy it and expected her to retreat some. A 109th place finish was certainly unexpected. Number one in the world just a few short years ago, her future on the LPGA is now on shaky ground.

28- Michelle Wie - Like Yani, Michelle's game is in shambles. Her 105th place finish puts her in the same boat as Yani. Can either one of them make a comeback?

29- Gerina Piller - Maybe the best player on tour not to record a victory. She came close many times in 2016 as attested by her solid 19th place finish.

30 - Mi Hyang Lee - With so many great players on tour who are much more consistent, I predicted she would fall some from her 2015 finish at #22. She did just that, falling all the way to #42.

31- Jaye Marie Green - Jaye played through an injury for most of the season, and when she was finally feeling better was in a car accident. That resulted in her going back to Q-School, where she finished in first place for the second time. A very good ball striker, Jaye is still just 22 and just might be back on my list next year. 

Image result for ariya jutanugarn
Ariya Jutanugarn shocked us all by winning 5 times, and capturing player of the year honors.

32- Ariya Jutanugarn - I picked her here, saying at the time "she has the game to become one of the best players in the world. She is also capable of missing 9 consecutive cuts" (which she did in 2015). She finished 35th on the money list in 2015. I talk to many people during the course of a season, and I don't think anyone saw this coming. At least not this fast. She finished #1 on the money list and won the Player of the year award. 

33- Angela Stanford - Angela finished 37th, just about where I expected.

34- Kim Kaufman - Kim finished 45th on the ML in 2015, and I expected some more improvement similar to her improvement her first two years on tour. She took a small step backward finishing at #53. 

35- Karrie Webb - Is father time catching up to her? She has slipped significantly the last couple of years. Placed at #8 in 2014, she could do no better than 53rd in 2016.

36- Xi Yu Lin - I knew I was taking a big risk putting her this high, but I expected a solid season. It didn't happen as she dropped 22 spots to #61.

37- Mika Miyazato - It was a big comeback year for her in 2015 and I expected her to drop some this year. She certainly did that, finishing #68.

38- Ilhee Lee - If anyone spots the real Ilhee, please let me know. That certainly looked like an imposter playing on the LPGA tour this season. After finishing #24 last season, I expected a decent size drop. Nobody could have predicted her finishing outside the top eighty. She finished #86.

39- Austin Ernst - She wasn't as consistent last year as she had been the year before, resulting in her falling back to #51.

40- Paula Creamer - Her finish this year of #66 on the money list suggests she is now at a crossroads in her career. One of the most popular players on tour for over a decade, she will be starting the 2017 season with a new caddie.

There you have it. How did I do? I will let my readers decide. 

I will be back in a couple of weeks with my top 40 predictions for 2017.

This week's Trivia Question:  (If you haven't already tried it).

What was the average age of the winners on the LPGA tour in 2016?

Bonus:

Who was the oldest winner?


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Monday, December 5, 2016

For 20 New LPGA Members it is A Dream Come True

They played 90 holes over a grueling 5 day period, but it all ended Sunday with 20 players earning their category 12 playing cards. When it was all over, Jaye Marie Green's 68-68-67-70-74 = 347 (-13) was one shot better than runner up Olafia Kristinsdottir of Iceland.

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Jaye Marie Green (R) (Pictured with Lexi Thompson) won final stage of Q-School for the second time.

Green, who also won Final Stage of LPGA Qualifying Tournament in 2013 with a record score of 29-under, is the first player since the event moved to Daytona Beach in 1991 to win Final Stage twice. 

“I feel really good about it and the weeks leading up I wasn’t really that nervous which is weird,” said Green. “I was really laid back this week and I felt like I was picking up where I left off from three years ago.”

Green and Kristinsdottir were tied heading to the 18th hole and Green made a bet with her brother and caddy, Matt, in the fairway. The stakes were simple. If they made birdie and won, Jaye would pay Matt $1,000. 

“I definitely wanted to win, I think that was a good goal for me,” said Green. “I did not play well so to have a putt to win was great. I felt like a kid on the putting green thinking about a putt to win and I got that oh my gosh feeling. When I saw it going dead center I was like ‘oh my gosh’ I did it and I had to fist pump when I never do. I think he is more excited about the $1,000 than the fact that I am going to the LPGA.”

Green, who finished 112th on the LPGA money list this year, said that this result will give her renewed confidence into 2017. 


Kristinsdottir, who had the largest galleries all week of Icelanders, carded a 1-over, 73 to earn a spot on the LPGA.

“It is a relief being done with the round and I’m so happy and really happy to be Icelandic,” said Kristinsdottir. “There are so many people out here and this is so awesome, I can’t even describe it.”

Kristinsdottir played college golf at Wake Forest and was a rookie on the Ladies European Tour in 2016. 

Image result for Olafia Kristinsdottir
Olafia Kristinsdottir of Iceland finished in the runner-up position.
There were 157 players who teed it up on Wednesday and the field was cut to 70 and ties after 72 holes. All players that completed 72 holes did receive Symetra Tour membership in Category D.

For the top 20 players it was a dream come true as many of them were receiving their cards for the very first time. It was a particularly good showing by the U.S. who had eight players finish in the top 20. The other 12 spots were filled with players from 12 different countries. While three of the top four finishers are from the USA, a total of 13 different countries (USA, Iceland, Korea, Taiwan, Denmark, Canada, England, Spain, Israel, Sweden, Philippines, Japan and Thailand) are represented amongst the players that finished in the top 20 to earn category 12 status on the LPGA Tour for 2017.

Angel Yin (Arcadia, Calif.) and Sadena Parks (Scottsdale, Ariz.) finished in a tie for third at 11-under, 349. JeongEun Lee (Seoul, South Korea) finished fifth at 10-under, 350. 

There were 34 other players that earned partial status Category 17 playing cards for finishing 21st - 45th. Don't expect to see much of them on the LPGA tour next season, as many of them will be playing primarily on the Symetra tour. 

All in all, 23 players from the United States, followed by 4 from South Korea and Thailand, would go on to receive LPGA membership.

This was a dream come true for twenty players. Here is a list of the 20 players who received category 12 playing cards for 2017:

1-   Jaye Marie Green - United States
2-   Olafia Kristinsdottir - Iceland
3-   Angel Yin - United States
3-   Sadena Parks - United States
5-   JeongEun Lee - South Korea
6-   Ssu Chia Cheng - Taiwan
6-   Beth Allen - United States
8-   Therese O'Hara - United States
8-   Jennifer Ha - Canada
8-   Mel Reid - England
11- Maria Parra - Spain
12- Amy Anderson - United States
12- Laetitia Beck - Isreal
14- Dani Holmqvist - Sweden
14- Katherine Perry - United States
14- Regan De Guzman (a) - Philippines
14- Dori Carter - United States
14- Nasa Hataoka - Japan
19- Pavarisa Yoktuan - Thailand
19- Karen Chung (a) - United States

 Further, four teenagers finished in the top 20 (Nasa Hataoka, Maria Parra, Angel Yin and Ssu Chia Cheng). 

Of the 54 players receiving 2017 playing status on the LPGA, 31 are rookies: Aditi Ashok, Brittany Benvenuto, Celine Boutier, Nicole Broch Larsen, Hannah Burke, Karen Chung, Jenny Coleman, Emily Collins, Daniela Darquea, Regan De Guzman, Justine Dreher, Allyssa Ferrell, Jennifer Ha, Nasa Hataoka, Caroline Inglis, Augusta James, Lauren Kim, Min-G Kim, Olafia Kristinsdottir, Bronte Law, Maria Parra, Emily Pedersen, Katherine Perry, Krista Puisite, Mel Reid, Madeleine Sheils, Mariah Stackhouse, Jessy Tang, Emily Tubert, Britney Yada and Angel Yin.
They will be joined by Sung Hyun Park, who didn't have to go to Q-School because of her steller play in LPGA events in 2016, and Madelene Sagstrom, Dana Fickelstein, Nelly Korda, Peiyun Chien, and Laura Gonzalez Escallon, as 2017 rookies. All in all there will be 37 rookies in 2017.

PAIR OF AMATEURS TURN PRO AND EARN LPGA STATUS: 
Karen Chung (Livingston, N.J.) and Regan De Guzman (Quezon City, Philippines) were the two amateurs to earn Category 12 status through their play at Q-School. Both chose to turn professional following their rounds.

Today's Trivia Question:

What was the average age of the winners on the LPGA tour in 2016?

Bonus:

Who was the oldest winner?





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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

LPGA Announces 2017 Schedule


Image result for lpga see why its different out here


Commissioner Michael Whan announced today the 2017 LPGA schedule.

Here are the highlights:

  • There will be four new tournaments (two domestic, two international)
  • Three tournaments have been dropped from the schedule (all domestic)
  • Match Play will once again be part of the LPGA Schedule.
  • The schedule will have 34 official tournaments plus the Solheim Cup.
  • It will have a record $67.35 million in official prize money, with eleven of the official thirty tournaments that are returning having larger purses than in 2016.
  • The U.S. Open will have a purse of $5 million dollars, largest in LPGA history.
The first new LPGA stop debuts when the Tour visits Oneida, Wisconsin July 6-9 for the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.

The second new event takes place three weeks later, when  the LPGA travels across the pond to play the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open, July 27-30 at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire, Scotland. 

In September, the Tour makes a pit stop in Indianapolis, Indiana for a $2 million purse at the Indy Women in Tech (IWIT) Championship Presented by Guggenheim. Taking place September 7-10, players will compete on the Pete Dye-designed Brickyard Crossing Golf Course that weaves through the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

The fourth and final new tournament, the MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open, will take place September 28-October 1. 

The Coates Golf Championship, in Ocala, Florida, The Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, in Daly City, California, and the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic, have all been dropped from the schedule.

The 2017 Lorena Ochoa Invitational will be shifted to March instead of November, and be played with a 64-person field at the Club de Golf México in Mexico City. It will be a match play event!


2017 LPGA Tour Season By the Numbers:

201720162011
# of Events353425
# of Official Events343323
Official Money Purses$67.35M$63.10M$41.5M
Events at $2 million16158
Events In North America222315
Events Outside of North America131110

My Summation:

On the positive side:

  • If you are an LPGA fan you have to be happy to see that the number of tournaments has grown significantly since Michael Whan took over as Commissioner.
  • It is also great to see the women playing for record purses. They certainly deserve it!
  • I think we all wanted a match play tournament and now we have one back again.
On the negative side:
  • Losing three domestic events, even though we did get two new ones, is a disappointment. It appears that keeping sponsors for tournaments here in the states will continue to be Mr. Whan's biggest challenge going forward. 


Today's Trivia Question:

What is the longest running non-major LPGA tournament on the 2017 schedule?


For the answer to today's trivia question press here.



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Monday, November 28, 2016

LPGA Qualifying School 2016 - Final Stage

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The Final Stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament will be held Wednesday November 30 through Sunday December 4 at LPGA International - Jones & Hills Courses, Daytona, Florida.

Players will rotate between the Jones and Hills courses over the first 4 days. 

There will be a 72 hole cut made after Saturday's round to the top 70 and ties.


Sunday's final round will be played on the Hills course.


Players who finish in the top 20 will earn category 12 Priority List membership. This means that they will get to play in all full field LPGA tournaments. Players finishing 21-45 will get category 17 membership, which amounts to conditional playing privileges. The players in category 17 usually do not get into many LPGA events and will probably spend most of the 2017 season playing in Symetra Tour events. Su Oh and Brittany Altomare were the only category 17 players who managed to retain their full time playing priviledges because of their play on the LPGA tour during the 2016 season.


Image result for mel reid
Mel Reid will be one of the favorites to capture one of the top 20 spots.


  • There will be 157 players in this week's field.
  • There are 78 players representing the USA, and 79 players representing 32 different countries outside the United States.
  • There are nine 2016 Olympians in the field: Aditi Ashok (India), Laetitia Beck (Israel), Nicole Broch Larsen (Denmark), Tiffany Chan (Hong Kong), Julieta Granada (Paraguay), Alejandra Llaneza (Mexico), Stephanie Meadow (Ireland), Guilia Molinaro (Italy) and Marianne Skarpnord (Norway). The highest finisher was Skarpnord who finished T25.
  • There are 8 players ranked in the top 200 in the world.
  • The field includes 14 teenages, and 41 players under the age of 23.
Although the most significant prize is leaving with a 2017 Tour card, there is a $50,000 purse and the medalist will earn $5,000. 


This coming week is the culmination of a three-stage Qualifying Tournament process that started in late August with Stage I in Rancho Mirage, California. A total of 92 players advanced out of Stage I to Stage II, which was held in October in Venice, Florida. A total of 84 players passed through Stage II to get to where we are now. 

A total of 36 players have made it through to Final Stage from Stage I. 

There are three players in the field that have won on the LPGA Tour. Lorie Kane (Charlottetown, Canada) is a four-time winner with her last coming at the 2001 Takefuji LPGA Classic. Julieta Granada (Asuncion, Paraguay) won the 2006 LPGA Playoffs at The ADT and Silvia Cavalleri won the 2007 Corona Championship.

The highest ranked player in the field according to the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings is Beth Allen (San Diego, Calif.), who ranks 63rd. Allen currently plays on the Ladies European Tour and leads the Order of Merit. There are eight players ranked in the top 200 in the world (Allen - 63, Nicole Broch Larsen (Hillerod, Denmark) - 90, Emily Pedersen (Smoerum, Denmark) - 109, JeongEun Lee (Seoul, South Korea) - 123, Mel Reid (Loughborough, England) - 135, Nasa Hataoka (Ibaraki, Japan) - 145, Holly Clyburn (Cleethorpes, England) and Aditi Ashok (Bangalore, India) - 198.


NO. 1 AMATEUR IN WORLD WITHDRAWS; STAYING AT DUKE: The big news just a week ago came when Leona Maguire, the No. 1 amateur in the world according to the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR), withdrew. Maguire, a junior at Duke, finished T6 at Stage II and appeared as if she would test the waters at Stage III. 

The 2014-15 National Player of the Year and a two-time First-Team All-American decided last week to stay in school. 

“Upon considerable deliberation, I have decided to withdraw from stage III of LPGA Q-School and not pursue LPGA membership for 2017,” said Maguire.  “This is not a decision that I have taken lightly but one that I feel is best for me in the pursuit of my long-term aspirations. I am thankful for the continuous support of my parents, friends, teammates, coach Shane O Grady, ILGU and everyone at Duke and for their guidance in helping me to reach my decision.”

The No. 2 amateur in the world, Bronte Law, will compete this week. Law, who captured the 2016 ANNIKA Award, finished second at Stage II. The second highest ranked amateur in the field is Katelyn Dambaugh, who is ninth. Dambaugh, a senior at South Carolina, finished 2015-16 with a scoring average of 71.62, which was second lowest in the country. 

THERE WILL BE LOTS OF ATTENTION ON 17-YEAR-OLD FROM JAPAN: Nasa Hataoka (Ibaraki, Japan) may be the second youngest player, but she might have the most attention on her. On October 2, she became the first amateur to win a JLPGA major by capturing the Japan Women’s Open Golf Championship. In the process, she surpassed Ai Miyazato’s record as the youngest champion of a major. Miyazato won the same JLPGA event in 2005 at the age of 20.

UL INTERNATIONAL CROWN PLAYERS REPRESENTED IN FIELD: There are four players - Rebecca Artis (Australia), Ssu Chia Cheng (Taiwan), Holly Clyburn (England) and Mel Reid (England) - in the field that competed in the inaugural UL International Crown in July. The UL International Crown pitted the four best players from the top eight nations against each other. The United States went on to win.

Reid, a veteran of two Solheim Cups, captured headlines with stellar play against the Japanese team. She was playing by herself because teammate Charley Hull couldn’t compete due to illness and Reid took the high power Japanese team to the 18th hole in best-ball format. 

SYMETRA TOUR NEXT 15 IN FIELD: In addition to awarding ten LPGA Tour cards, the Symetra Tour also gives exemptions to Final Stage to the top 15 non-LPGA members that finish the year outside the top 10. 

The following Symetra Tour players noted below bypassed Stage II and will compete in Final Stage. The only player that had the opportunity to compete, but did not sign up is Jessica Wallace. 

No. 11 Clariss Guce (Artesia, Calif.), No. 12 Erica Popson (Davenport, Fla.), No. 13 Augusta James (Bath, Ontario, No. 16 Brittany Benvenuto (Langhorne, Pa.), No. 17 Erynne Lee (Silverdale, Wash.), No. 18 Natalie Sheary (West Hartford, Ct.), No. 20 Nicole Broch Larsen (Hillerod, Denmark), No. 21 Dottie Ardina (Laguna, Philippines), No. 22 Paola Moreno (Cali, Colombia), No. 24 Shannon Fish  (Spring, Texas), No. 25 Emma de Groot (Coffs Harbour, Australia), No. 26 Emma Talley (Princeton, Kentucky), No. 29 Brittany Marchand (Orangeville, Ontario) and No. 30 Emily Tubert (Burbank, Calif.). 

Guce won twice on the Symetra Tour in 2016 while Popson, Lee, Broch Larsen and Moreno each won once.

It is always difficult to hadicap the Q-School field, but I will give it a shot. Here are my picks:
1- Mel Reid
2- Beth Allen
3- Jaye Marie Green
4- Bronte Law
5- Aditi Ashok
6- Stephanie Meadow
7- Angel Yin
8- Holly Clyburn
9- Prima Thammaraks
10- Nicole Broch Larsen 
11- Haeiji Kang
12- Mariah Stackhouse
13- Emily Tubert
14- Emily Pedersen
15- Jeong Eun Lee
16- Vicky Hurst
17- Amy Anderson
18- Ssu Chia Cheng
19- Laeticia Beck
20- Sadena Parks


This Week's Trivia Question:

What player broke the all-time Q-school scoring record in 2013, when she shot an amazing -29 under par?

For the answer to this week's trivia question press here.


Click here for all round by round results:




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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Rating the Rookies - Part 3 - Final Analysis

Let me start by saying that 2016 was not a very good year for LPGA rookies. Only 6 of the 29 rookies finished in the top 100 on the 2016 money list. Three more will be retaining their cards because of their stellar Symetra Tour play. The other twenty players are all going back to Q-School next week. This was a dramatic decrease from 2015 when we had a spectacular rookie crop, but also down substantially from 2014.

  • 2016 -  9 of 29  = 23.1%
  • 2015 - 19 of 33 = 57.6%
  • 2014 - 13 of 28 = 46.4%


Below are my ratings for all 2016 LPGA rookies. These ratings are strictly based on how they fared on the LPGA tour this season. Any successes or failures on other tours, excluding the Symetra Tour, are not considered here. Success in retaining their 2017 LPGA playing card was my determining factor for my final ratings.

Image result for In Gee Chun wins vare
In Gee Chun (holding Vare Trophy) was by far and away the year's best rookie.


The Best:
1- In Gee Chun - Winning the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award could not have been any easier. She did it easily in spite of missing several tournaments early in the year due to injury. Although she won just once (she had several second place finishes), it was a major Championship. She had 8 top five finishes, and missed only one cut the entire season. To top things off she earned another Hall of Fame point (her 5th) when she won the Vare Trophy.

Strong Rookie Season:

1- Megan Khang - Megan had a fine rookie season of her own. She had one top five finish, 2 top tens, and 6 top twenties. She made 17 of 28 cuts, finished #57 on the year's money list, and was runner-up for Rookie of the Year honors. She is just 18 years old and has a bright future ahead of her.

2- Gaby Lopez - Gaby was a cut making machine in her rookie season. She teed it up 26 times and missed just 4 cuts. Although she didn't register a top ten finish, she came close several times as her 8 top twenties would indicate. She finished a solid #60 on the money list, and #3 for ROY.

3- Su Oh - Didn't get into many tournaments early in the year, but when she did, there was no stopping her. In just 22 starts she registered 1 top five, 2 top tens, and 6 top twenties. She was #50 on the money list and #4 for ROY. I'm predicting big things for her in 2017.

Consider Them a Success:
1- Annie Park - When the season began, many thought that if there was going to be a huge surprise it would be this young lady. Expectations were very high. What followed was a very uneven season. Although she did have 2 top ten finishes, she did struggle for large portions of the season. She teed it up 23 times making 15 cuts. Her #82 finish on the money list guarantees her plenty more opportunities next year. 


2- Lee Lopez - Probably the biggest surprise on this list. "The other Lopez" had quite a solid year. Her highlight was finishing 6th at the Cambia Classic. She made 18 of 26 cuts and finished #76 on the money list.

Retaining Their Playing Cards Thru the Symetra Tour:
1- Ally McDonald - Because of a poor priority ranking, she only got to tee it up once this year on the LPGA tour (she finished 30th at the Evian Championship). It doesn't matter. Her 2nd place finish on the Symetra Tour money list guarantees her full time playing privileges in 2017.

2- Wichanee Meechi - She also played in just one LPGA tournament, and missed the cut. Her #4 finish on the Symetra Tour money list means we will be seeing plenty of her next season.

3- Sherman Santiwiwatthannaphong - With her 6th place finish on the Symetra Tour money list, we will be seeing her teeing it up regularly next year on the LPGA. If she becomes the next Thai sensation, we are all going to get writers' cramp.

They are Going Back to Q-School:
The following 3 players are going back to Q-school to improve their priority list ranking for 2017. Although they still have a playing card (category 16), they did not play well enough to guarantee them many starts (if any) in 2017.

1- Ssu-Chia Cheng - She made just 7 of 15 cuts. Her best finish was a tie for 31st, and she finished #122 on the money list.

2- Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras - Making just 8 cuts in 18 events, with a best finish of 22nd, resulted in a money list finish of #123. 

3- Holly Clyburn - She teed it up 15 times, but was only able to make 6 cuts. Her best finish was a tie for 41st. She finished #125 on the money list.

The following players finished outside the top 125 on the money and will have to be successful in Q-school next week to earn back their playing privileges. (In alphabetical order).    Number of cuts made / Position on money list.

1- Hannah Collier - 2 of 10 / 160
2- Ani Gulugian - 0 of 1 / N/A
3- Ginger Howard - 0 of 6 / N/A
4- Jaclyn Jansen - 1 of 8 / 169
5- Briana Mao - 6 of 14 / 129
6- Grace Na - 1 of 18 / #170
7- Benyapa Niphatsophon - 8 of 18 / 134
8- Ashlan Ramsey - 2 of 18 / 165
9- Marion Ricordeau - 4 of 14 / 143
10- Cyna Rodriguez - 2 of 15 / 168
11- Rachel Rohanna - 5 of 19 / 135
12- Bertine Strauss - 6 of 18 / 133
13- Budsabakorn Sukapan - 5 of 19 / 141
14- Anne-Catherine Tanguay - 5 of 10 / 146
15- Prima Thammaraks - 2 of 8 / 164
16- Pavarisa Yoktuan - 0 of 1 / N/A
17- Jiayai Zhou - 5 of 10 / 163

Today's Trivia Question:
In Gee Chun was the only rookie to win on the LPGA Tour in 2016. There were four rookies who won on the LPGA tour in 2015. Can you name them?


For the answer to today's trivia question press here.


Be sure to check back here early next week for my preview of phase 3 Q-School.
  



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Monday, November 21, 2016

Stats & Facts - Volumel 31 - Final 2016

First let me congratulate Charley Hull for winning the CME Group Championship. She carded a final round 66 to best runner-up So Yeon Ryu by 2 strokes. It was the first LPGA victory of Charley's career.

That wasn't the whole story of the weekend though as three big season ending awards were decided:

  • Ariya Jutanugarn won the player of the year award and therefore receives a Hall of Fame point.
  • In Gee Chun won the Vare trophy (lowest average score per round) an also receives a Hall of Fame point. Earlier this month she also won The Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year award.
  • Ariya Jutanugarn wins the Race to The CME Globe, and wins the 1 million dollar bonus. Lydia Ko (who was shut out of the season ending awards) finished 2nd and wins a bonus of $150,000. Brooke Henderson finished third and earned a $100,000 bonus.


We have come to the close of the 2016 LPGA season. In my opinion, it was in many ways one of  the most exciting seasons ever. Every week we were treated to exciting and competitive tournaments. In fact, there were 5 tournaments that needed a playoff to decide the outcome. There were 9 more tournaments that were decided by just one stroke, and 5 more that were decided by two. We had winners from 12 different different countries. We also saw team USA bring home the International Crown trophy with an exciting one stroke victory over South Korea.

Last year I asked, "How would they top the 2015 season?" In many ways I think they did. Now we look forward to what is in store for 2017. The LPGA has not released its schedule yet for 2017 (we expect it sometime this week), but we do know that there will be at least four new tournaments. Those tournaments will be in Green Bay Wisconsin, Indianapolis, Indiana, New Zealand, and Scotland. How many will be lost? We don't have the answer to that yet, but I am going to assume it will be just two or three. That will give the LPGA its largest number of events ever. I am also going to go out a limb here and say that 2017 will have the most TV coverage and the largest total purse ever! This certainly gives us all something to look forward to.

Image result for usa wins int crown
It wasn't a great year for American golfers but they did bring home the International Crown and U.S. Open trophies.


On that note I would like to take a look at some of the most important stats of the 2017 season.

Victories:
1- Ariya Jutanugarn - 5 
2- Lydia Ko - 4
3- Ha Na Jang - 3
4- Six players with - 2

Most Top Ten Finishes:
1- Ariya Jutanugarn - 16
2- Brooke Henderson - 15
3- Lydia Ko - 14
4- Three players with - 11

Rolex Player of the Year:
1- Ariya Jutanugarn - 268 points
2- Lydia Ko - 248
3- Brooke Henderson - 154
4- In Gee Chun - 149
5- Ha Na Jang - 12

Vare Trophy:
1- In Gee Chun - 69.583 strokes per round.
2- Lydia Ko - 69.596
3- Ariya Jutanugarn - 69.870
4- Shanshan Feng - 69.877
5- Han Na Jang - 69.976

Official Money:
1- Ariya Jutanugarn - $2,550,928
2- Lydia Ko - $2,492,994
3- Brooke Henderson - $1,724,409
4- In Gee Chun - $1,501,102
5- Shanshan Feng - $1,458,579


*Race to the CME Globe:
1- Ariya Jutanugarn - $1,000,000
2- Lydia Ko - $150,000
3- Brooke Henderson - 100,000
* All unofficial money, and does not count on official money list.

Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year:
1- In Gee Chun - 1,358 points
2- Megan Khang - 526
3- Gaby Lopez - 516
4- Su Oh - 469
5- Annie Park - 283

Average Driving Distance: (minimum 15 tournaments played)
1- Joanna Klatten - 281 yards
2- Lexi Thompson - 277
3- Sadena Parks - 275
4- Sei Young Kim - 272
5- Benyapa Niphatsophon - 271
5- Maude-Aimee Leblanc - 271

Greens In Regulation: (minimum 15 tournaments played)
1- Anna Nordqvist - 78.6%
2- So Yeon Ryu - 77.1
3- Ha Na Jang - 77.0
4- Lexi Thompson - 76.9
5- Shanshan Feng 74.7

Putts Per Green in regulation: (minimum 20 tournaments played)
1- Lydia Ko - 1.711 
2- In Gee Chun - 1.742
3- Ariya Jutanugarn - 1.751
4- Hyo Joo Kim - 1.753
5- Minjee Lee - 1.755

Most Wins by Country:
1- South Korea - 9
2- Thailand - 5
3- New Zealand - 4
4- USA - 3 (includes International Crown)
5- Six countries with - 2

This Week's Trivia Question:
What LPGA player finished the 2016 season by registering an amazing 20 top twenty finishes in her last 22 starts?

For the answer of this week's trivia question press here.

Other Tidbits:
Seo Yeon Ryu has amassed an amazing seventeen top five finishes since her last win in August of 2014.

Rolex Movers of the Week:
So Yeon Ryu jumps up two spots and into the top ten this week, jumping from #12 to #10. Charley Hull leaps up from #29 to #18, while Jennifer Song catapults from #93 to #72.

Who's Hot:
Shanshan Feng ended her season with seven consecutive top ten finishes. So Yeon Ryu ended her season with three consecutive top fives.


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