Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Surprises & Disappointments - Final 2014

With the 2014 season in the books, I would like to look back at the players who were the biggest surprises and biggest disappointments of the 2014 season.

Michelle Wie was my Biggest Surprise of the 2014 Season

Biggest Surprises:

1- Michelle Wie - We waited for a long time for this to happen. So long, that most of us thought it might never happen at all. Well it did! In spite of missing a chunk of the season with an injury, she still managed to win twice (including the U.S. Open), have 9 top five finishes, and 13 top tens. Last year she finished #41 on the money list, this year she finished #4.

2- Mirim Lee - All the talk was about Lydia Ko this year, and in my opinion Mirim was overlooked. All she did was win twice in her rookie season, have 4 top tens, and 11 top twenty finishes. Her 14th place finish on the money list deserves to be noticed.

3- Julieta Granada - She really came into her own in 2014 with 3 top five finishes, 8 top tens, and 14 top twenties. She also improved her money list finish from # 55 last year to #18 this year. 

4- Ihlee Lee - You will not find her big improvement by comparing her numbers to last year. Her 2013 numbers were padded by a 36 hole win in the Bahamas, otherwise it was not a very good year. This year started horribly with no top 20 finishes in her first 18 starts, but then she caught fire and was one of the most consistent players on tour. In her next 10 tournaments she would have 5 top tens and 9 top 20 twenty finishes.

5- Brittany Lincicome - Brittany had a poor 2013 season, and had a very poor first half of 2014. Many thought that the end was near. That certainly didn't turn out to be the case as she had 3 top fives, and 5 top tens in her last 8 starts. 

6- M.J. Hur - Nobody has really paid attention to MJ in quite some time. She hadn't played very well for a number of years. That all changed in the second half of the 2014 season, when she was as hot as any player on tour. She not only won, but had 2 top fives, 3 top tens, and 5 top twenties. She finished #30 on the money list, up from # 75 last year.

7- Lydia Ko - Why do I have her this far down the list? It is because I think that some of us really weren't that surprised that she won 3 times and had 15 top ten finishes. That said, how can I leave off a rookie that finished in the #3 position.

8- Jenny Shin - Even though she tailed off some in the second half, it did not tarnish the fact that this was her best year on tour. With 6 top tens, and 14 top twenties, she climbed all the way up to #21 on the money list this year.

9- Kim Kaufman - Before the year started, many people wrote in listing their top rookie picks of the year. With so many good rookies, nobody, including myself, had Kim on their list. In spite of not playing the first one third of the season, she had 2 top fives, 3 top tens, and 5 top twenty finishes. With many fewer starts than most players ahead of her, she still managed to finish #58 on the money list.

10- Mi Hyang Lee - With all the Lee's on tour (see Mirim and Ilhee above), her comeback season didn't get much attention. Lost was the fact that she not only won, but had 4 top tens, and 8 top twenty finishes. Last year she finished #92 on the money list. This year she finished #31.

Honorable Mentions - Austin Ernst and Line Vedel.

Ai Miyazato was the biggest disappointment of 2014

Biggest Disappointments:

1- Ai Miyazato - Ai had an off year in 2013 finishing all the way down at #27 on the money list. We all thought she would bounce back in 2014. We were all wrong. It is hard to explain the dramatic fall she took this year, except to say that she did not have a single top ten finish all year. Her fall to #86 on the money list explains it even better.

2- Mika Miyazato - She had almost the same year as Ai did. Mika failed to have a single top twenty finish the entire season. She dropped on the money list from #36 to #91.

3- I.K. Kim - I.K. did not show up for many tournaments in 2014, playing in just 18 of a possible 32. When she did show up, she just didn't play that well. Managing just 2 top ten finishes, she fell from her #7 money list finish last year, to #48 this year.

4- Beatriz Recari - Beatriz had a breakout season in 2013 when she won twice. We expected a small drop this year, but got a big one. With only one top ten all year, she dropped from #8 last year to #53 on the money list this year.

5- Chie Arimura - She came onto the LPGA with high expectations, but has not lived up to them thus far. She had just one top 20 finish all year, and went back to Q-School where she missed the cut. She finished #106 on the money list.

6- Sun Young Yoo - Once one of the better players in the world, she just didn't show up in 2014. In 25 starts she had just one top ten, while finishing outside the top 25 eighteen times. She fell way back to #61 on the money list.

7- Amy Yang - Amy didn't have a terrible year, she just had a terrible year based on her standards. Although she had 4 top tens, she didn't contend very often, and fell all the way down to #25 on the money list.

8- Hee Young Park - In 29 starts this year, she managed just 2 top tens. Last year she finished #10 on the money list, this year #40.

9- Caroline Hedwall - Maybe if we didn't see her win all 5 of her matches at the last Solheim Cup, our expectations might have been lower. Still, just one top ten all year? She was #14 on last year's money list, and # 46 this year.

10- Jennifer Johnson - Jennifer was disappointed in 2013 when she was not picked for the Solheim Cup Team. With just one top ten in 25 starts in 2014, she is going to have to play much better than that to be considered in 2015. She finished all the way back at #57 on this year's money list.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Looking Back At My 2014 Predictions. Did I Get It Right?

The 2014 LPGA season was full of surprises. We had 21 different winners. We had 8 multiple winners. Two winners were non LPGA members. We also had winners that came from 7 different countries. We had seven first time winners. It was a year that was almost impossible to predict, although I did give 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 2014. I put it out there for the whole world to see. Let's see how I did:

  1. Stacy Lewis - She won every major award possible. She was the top money winner of 2014. She won the Rolex Player of the Year, and won the Vare trophy. Needless to say, I got this one correct.
  2. Suzann Pettersen - Suzann finished the 2013 season very strongly and figured to have a big 2014.  Back problems slowed her down for a part of the year, and she never seemed to get on track. She did not have a win, but did finish #11 on the money list.
  3. Lydia Ko - Predicting a rookie to finish #3 is usually not the thing to do. But this rookie was a really special one. She easily won the  Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, and made me look great by finishing #3 on the money list.
  4. Inbee Park - Inbee had a terrific year winning three times. She missed out on all the major awards on the last day of the season, finishing #2 on the money list.
  5. Lexi Thompson - After finishing #7 in 2013, I figured a step up was in the making. She started quick when she won the first Major Championship of the year, and the first of her career. She had an up & down second half, which resulted in her finishing #12 on the money list.
  6. Shanshan Feng - Shanshan seemed to be in contention all year long, but managed just one win. You can high five me on this one as she did finish #6.
  7. Na Yeon Choi - Never seemed to be the threat to win that she was in past years. She wound up finishing #13 on the money list, leaving us wondering about next year.
  8. So Yeon Ryu - Always dangerous, and almost always in contention in 2014, she finished #5.
  9. Jessica Korda - Jessica won twice in 2014, so why do I feel like she didn't have that great a year? It was because she contended very few times. Her 16th place finish on the money list, although the best of her young career, is not that impressive for a multiple winner.
  10. Paula Creamer - Just four top tens?  She usually has that many by March. That 75 foot putt she sank to win in Singapore, which gave her win #10, sure saved her season. Has she fully healed from her hand injury? Has all those years on tour started to take its toll? Has she been distracted because of her impending marriage? Still one of the most popular players in the history of the women's game, we will have to wait until next year to see if her #22 money list finish was just a fluke. 
  11. I.K. Kim - She just never seemed to show up all year, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. She only showed up for 18 tournaments, and wasn't much of a factor when she did tee it up, finishing #48 on the money list.
  12. Chella Choi -  How could it possibly be that Chella has not yet won an LPGA event? She had 10 top ten finishes and 20 top twenties. It will come soon and when it does she will improve on her 10th place money list finish.
  13. Beatriz Recari - I was way off on this one. After finishing #6 on the money list in 2013, I figured she would take a dip. I didn't think she would fall all the way to #53.
  14. Amy Yang - Amy didn't contend nearly as much as I would have thought she would. She finished in the #25 spot.
  15. Hee Young Park - With her sister on tour with her this year, maybe she can better her #40.
  16. Pornanong Phatlum - Another player who seems to contend weekly but never win. I was close though, as she finished #20.
  17. Caroline Hedwall - I seem to rate her much too high every year. Maybe she is not as good as I think she is. She finished in the #46 spot.
  18. Gerina Piller - Still looking for that first victory, she took a step back this year finishing #39.
  19. Lizette Salas - She did get her first win this year, but didn't contend enough. I was close to her actual finish at #24.
  20. Carlotta Ciganda - Has as much talent as anyone on tour, but never seems to be able to put it all together. She finished at #44.
  21. Karrie Webb - Karrie does this to me every year. She finished #8.
  22. Ai Miyazato - I don't feel too bad about this one because nobody could have predicted such a complete meltdown. You thought her #40 finish in 2013 was a bad year? She finished the year without a top ten, and wound up #86 on the money list.
  23. Anna Nordqvist - She started out real strong with two quick wins, then cooled off the rest of the season. Those wins were good enough for a 7th place finish on the money list.
  24. Angela Stanford - It was a typical Angela season as she finished in the #19 spot.
  25. Cristie Kerr - Christie didn't win in 2014, but her #15 finish was higher than Korda who won twice. She still has something left in the tank.
  26. Jodi Ewert-Shadoff -  Took 2 steps backward this past season as shown by her #52 finish.
  27. Karine Icher - Was close on this one as she finished in the #33 spot.
  28. Michelle Wie - Every year I predicted her to break out and she always disappointed me and made me look foolish. This year I gave in, and gave up on my high expectations of her. Of course she made me look foolish, finishing in the #4 spot.
  29. Morgan Pressel - Came on strong the last part of the season and finished in the #35 spot.
  30. Azahara Munoz - It was a big bounce back year for Azahara as she earned over 1 million dollars. Even though she is still looking for that first stroke play win, she was solid enough to finish at #9.
There you have it. Although it wasn't a complete disaster, I have had better years. I will be posting my predictions for the 2015 season very shortly.

Other Tidbits:
Now that the results of the Final Phase of Qualifying Tournament are known, it is going to be one hell of race for rookie of the year in 2015.

You have heard me say that the 2014 rookie crop was the best in quite sometime. The 2015 rookies might be the best ever! It will include 8 players that already ranked in the top 100 in the world.
Here they are listed according to their world ranking:

Hyo Joo Kim - Rolex Ranked #9 (Winner on LPGA Tour in 2014)
Kyu Ju Baek - #11 (Winner on LPGA Tour in 2014)
Ha Na Jang - #25
Charley Hull - #37
Sei Young Kim #40
Sakura Yokomine #44
Minjee Lee - #82
Ariya Jutanugarn - 91
Although there will be quite a number of American rookies in 2015, none of them are on the above list.

Laetitia Beck is the first Israeli to earn an LPGA playing card. 

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

LPGA Qualifying School: The Final Stage

The Final Stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament will be held Wednesday December 3 through Sunday December 7 at LPGA International - Jones & Hills Courses.

There will be 154 players in the field competing to earn LPGA membership for the 2015 season.

Update - Monday 12/8/14

Karlin Beck made a 75 foot chip shot on the 5th playoff hole of the day and the 11th in total, dating back to Sunday night, to earn the final Category 12 LPGA Card. Casey Grice was eliminated on the 10th playoff hole, and Stephanie Meadow was eliminated by Beck's chip shot on the 11th playoff hole.

Both Meadow and Grice have earned Category 17 LPGA Cards. Grice was the first round leader. Meadow, who finished third in the 2014 U.S. Open, figures to get a number of sponsor exemptions. She will have ample opportunities to improve her status during the LPGA reshuffles. 

Update - Sunday 12/7/14

Believe it or not, they have finished 5 rounds and 90 holes and it is still not over!
When 90 holes were completed there were 7 players tied for the 18th spot. Only 3 players of those 7 can get a fully exempt category 12 playing card, so they went to a 3 hole playoff. After that playoff only one player was eliminated, so on and on they went. After a few more playoff holes, 2 more players got in, leaving 3 players fighting for one spot. Of course it got dark. They will continue tomorrow morning.

Here is the list of the 19 players that have earned full time playing privileges in 2015:
1- Allison Lee -10
1- Mingee Lee -10
3- Ariya Jutanugarn - 9
3- Maria Hernandez - 9
5- Ryann O'Toole -8
6- Simin Feng - 7
6- Ha Na Jang -7 (Incredibly, she shot an 80 today and still got in)
9- Kelly Shon - 6
9- Nanette Hill -6
11- Cheyenne Woods - -5
11- Therese Koelbaek -5
11- Perrine Delacour -5
11- So Be Kim -5
11- Sakura Yokomine -5
11- Sofia Popov -5
11- Ju Young Park -5
18- Laetitea Beck -4 (Got in via playoff)
18- Garrett Philips -4 (Got in via playoff)

Here are the 3 players that will be fighting it out for the last spot tomorrow:
18- Karlin Beck -4
18- Stephanie Meadow -4
18- Casey Grice -4

Here are the players that have earned a category 17 LPGA card. They will have limited opportunities to get into playing fields next year. The players at the top of this list should get a few opportunities to get into the playing fields and will have to make the most of them to get reshuffled into a better position (like Kim Kaufman did in 2014). The players at the end of this list will have little or no opportunities to play this year on the LPGA Tour, and will probably be playing mostly Symetra Tour events.

21- Loser of the above playoff
22- Loser of the above playoff
23- Julie Yang (a) - Lost playoff
24- Jacqui Concolino - Lost playoff
25- Nontaya Srisawang -3
25- Daniella Iacobelli -3
25- Louise Stahle -3
28- ***Charley Hull -2
28- Natalie Sheary -2
28- Jeong Eun Lee -2
28- Rebecca Lee Bentham -2
28- Jean Reynolds -2
28- Lindy Duncan -2
34- Jing Yan (a) -1
35- Paolo Morena -Even
35- Victoria Elizabeth -Even
35- Celine Herbin -Even
35- Emma de Groot -Even
35- Jennifer Gleason -Even
35- Sophie Giquel -Even
35- Elizabeth Nagel -Even
35- Caroline Westrup -Even
43- Katy Harris +1
43- Marta Sanz Barrio +1
43- Giulia Molinaro +1

*** Charley Hull is the exception to my above explanation of category 17 playing opportunities.
Because of her "bigger than life" persona, and her status on the Ladies European Tour, Charley will get into quite a few tournaments this year. In addition to the normal amount of events she would get into because of her placement, expect her to get 6 more sponsor exemptions. In addition she has already qualified for several events based on her 2014 play.
 With all these opportunities, expect her to reshuffle into full time status very quickly.

Other notables that failed to earn there cards today, in addition to the players I listed yesterday.

52- Veronica Felibert +3
52- Kathleen Ekey +3
58- Emily Talley +4
64- Maude-Aimee Leblanc +5
64- Birdie Kim +5

Check back tomorrow for the playoff result. 

Update - Saturday 12/6/14 (Completion of round 4 of 5)

Ha Na Jang shot a 68 today to take a 3 stroke lead after the fourth round. She finished at 15 under par. Maria Hernandez is in second place at -12.

Other Notable scores:
Mingee Lee -11 (3rd place)
Alison Lee, Ju Young Park -10 (4th place)
Sei Young Kim, Sakura Yokomine - (9th place)
Stephanie Meadow - 7 (14th place)
Ryann O'Toole -6 (17th)
Jean Reynolds -4 (25th)
Cheyenne Woods, Rebecca Lee Bentham -3 (32nd place)
Emily Talley -2 (38th place)
Kathleen Ekey -1 (44th place)
Victoria Elizabeth -Even (54th place)
Veronica Felibert +1 (58th place)
Charley Hull, Maude-Aimee Leblanc +2 (68th place)

The following players were among the bigger named players that missed the 72 hole cut and will not be receiving a 2015 LPGA playing card.

Lori Kane +8
Sylvia Cavalleri +9
Valentine Derrey, Vicky Hurst +10
Chie Arimura +13
Madison Pressel, CindyLaCrosse +15

Madison Pressel (R) will be trying to join her sister Morgan on the LPGA Tour

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 2015 season playing in Symetra Tour events. Only 3 category 17 players managed to retain their cards this year (Kim Kaufman, Joanna Klatten, and Lee Anne Pace) as a result of their LPGA accomplishments.

There will be a cut on Saturday after 72 holes are completed. The top 70 and ties will advance to the final round on Sunday.

There are just four ways that a player earned entry into the field this week:
  • By finishing in the top 80 of qualifying School phase 2.
  • By finishing 11-30 on the 2014 Symetra Tour money list.
  • If they are currently ranked in the top 40 of the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings.
  • Had 2014 LPGA Tour membership.
This will be one of the strongest fields in history, as it will include 3 players who are ranked in the top 40 in the world, and 3 players who have posted a top 10 finish on the LPGA in 2014.

Three Players in the Top 40 of the Rolex Rankings:
  1. Ha Na Jang - Currently at #25 in the Rolex Rankings, She finished in a tie for third at the 2014 Evian Championship.
  2. Charley Hull - Currently #37 in the Rolex Rankings, she finished tied for third at the Airbus LPGA Classic, and tied for 7th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
  3. Sei Young Kim - Currently #43 in the Rolex Rankings, she played 5 LPGA events in 2014, but failed to finish higher than 40th place.
Sakura Yokomine (44), Minjee Lee (82), Ariya Jutanugarn (91), and Valentine Derrey (100) are also ranked in the top 100 in the world rankings.

The following players who are in the field, have previously won on the LPGA Tour.
  1. Lori Kane - Lori won  four times during the 2000 LPGA season.
  2. Birdie Kim - She won the 2005 U.S. Women's Open Championship.
  3. Sylvia Cavalleri - She won the 2007 Corona Championship
Other Notable Players in the Field:
  1. Stephanie Meadow - She finished third at the 2014 U.S. Women's Open Championship, and is trying to become the first LPGA member from Northern Ireland.
  2. Cheyenne Woods - She was a winner this year on the Ladies Europeon Tour. She failed in her attempt to get her card last year when she missed the 72 hole cut.
  3. Alison Lee - She was the WGCA Freshman of the year at UCLA. She also had the lowest scoring average (71.02) in the country. She finished 4th at stage one, and solo 2nd at stage 2.
Three Players Trying to Join Their Sisters on LPGA Tour:
  1. Madison Pressel - Will be trying to join her sister Morgan.
  2. Ariya Jutanugarn - Hoping to join sister Moriya on the LPGA Tour.
  3. Ju Young Park - She will be attempting to play beside her sister (Hee Young).
Past medalists (finishing in first place) of LPGA Final Stage include: Paula Creamer, Ai Miyazato and Stacy Lewis. Jaye Marie Green was the 2013 winner, with a record breaking score of -25.

Other Facts & Figures:

There will be fifty-one 2014 LPGA Tour members in the field. They include players such as Ryann O'Toole, Kathleen, Ekey, Vicky Hurst, Cindy LaCrosse, and Veronica Felibert, who are trying to regain their playing cards.

There will be 54 Symetra Tour players in the field.

Their will be 32 countries represented this week including the United States.

The state of Florida has 16 players teeing it up.

There will be 12 amateurs in the field.

Lori Kane's 99 top ten finishes on the LPGA tour is the most (by far) of any 2014 Q-School participant. 

Here are the pairings for the first round.

Be sure to check back here for any updates. I will post results when rounds are completed.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Rating the Rookies - Part 3 - Final Analysis

Let me start by saying that 2014 was a very good year for LPGA rookies. Thirteen of the 28 rookies have retained their playing cards based on their 2014 LPGA performance. That is 46.4%, up from 22.8 % in 2013, when only 8 of 35 rookies retained their cards. Two more rookies retained their playing cards for 2015 as a result of their play on the Symetra Tour, and 3 did in 2013.

Below are my ratings for all 2014 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 2015 LPGA playing card was my determining factor for my final ratings.

Kim Kaufman may have been the biggest surprise of 2014

The Best:
1- Lydia Ko - We may never see another rookie like Lydia again in our lifetime. Lydia not only won three times, but had ten top five finishes. She did not miss a cut in any of her 27 starts. She finished #3 on the money list, and is presently ranked #3 in the Rolex World Rankings. The sky is the limit.

2- Mirim Lee - If this was just about any other year, she would have won the Rookie of the Year award. Mirim won twice, had 4 top tens, and 10 top twenties. She made 20 of 24 cuts, and finished #14 on the money list.

Strong Rookie Seasons:
1- Line Vedel - Line quietly put together quite a strong 2014 season. She had 3 top five finishes, highlighted by a 4th place finish at the Swinging skirts LPGA Classic. She made 19 of 24 cuts, and finished #44 on the money list. She was #3 in the Rookie of the Year race.

2- Kim Kaufman - Kim might have been the biggest surprise of the 2014 season. With a terrible Priority List rating, she did not get into an event until the season was 1/3 over. When she got her chance, she sure took advantage of it finishing 4th at the North Texas Shootout. After that tournament the LPGA had their first reshuffle, giving Kim full playing status. She would finish her abbreviated season with 2 top fives, 3 top tens, and 5 top twenties. She also made 12 of 19 cuts. Kim finished #58 on the money list and was 4th in ROY points.

Consider Them A Success:
1- Amy Anderson - It was an up and down year for Amy in 2014. Her first half of the season was actually better than the second. Her best finish was 7th place at the Lotte Championship, and she had two other top twenty finishes. She finished 5th in the ROY race, and 80th on the money list.

2- Paula Reto - It looked like she would would be going back to Q-School until she shocked us all by finishing 3rd at the Yokohama Classic. It was her only top twenty of the year, but it was good enough to place her #77 on the money list.

3- Xi Yu Lin - Her cut ratio, 15 of 21, was excellent, but she had a lot of poor finishes where she barely made it to the weekend. Her 8th place finish at the Portland Classic was the highlight of her year, and her only top 10 finish. She finished #81 on the money list and 6th in the ROY race.

4- Kelly Tan - Kelly's 4th place finish at the Marathon Classic was her only top twenty finish of the year, but it was good enough for her to finish #89 on the money list. She made the cut in half of her 20 starts.

5- Jaye Marie Green - So talented. So much potential. Lydia Ko defeated her for the Amateur Championship in 2013, but it took her 35 holes to do so. A great ball striker; her extreme aggressiveness sometimes becomes her worst enemy. She led the Marathon Classic after the first few holes of the final round, but finished 18th. She made 11 of 22 cuts, and finished 93rd on the money list.

6- Joanna Klatten - One of the longest hitters on the tour, Joanne finished 4th in driving distance. Her 13th place finish at the Shoprite Classic was the highlight of her season, where she made 8 of 14 cuts.
She placed 99th on the money list and barely (top 100) kept her full time playing card.

Retaining Their Card Through the Symetra Tour:
1- Jackie Stoelting - Played only one LPGA event this year because of her poor Priority List ranking, but made the cut. None of that matters as she not only retains her card, but will have full time playing privileges next year. She accomplished this by finishing #3 on the Symetra tour money list. Jackie was also the winner of the Big Break earlier in the year.

2- Yueer Cindy Feng - Played in only 5 LPGA events in 2014, but did have a 13th place finish at the U.S. Women's Open. She made 2 of 5 cuts, but also retains her card by finishing 7th on the Symetra Tour money list.

They Are Going Back to Q-School:
The following 3 players are going back to Q-school to improve their Priority List status for 2015. They still have a playing card, but did not play well enough to guarantee them many starts in 2015.

1- Jennifer Kirby - Jennifer made the cut in 9 of her 18 starts, but without a top 20 finish could not finish higher than #111 on the money list.

2- Guilia Molinaro - Made 8 of 18 cuts, but finished #114 on the money list.

3- Stacey Keating - Stacy only made 5 of 16 cuts, and finished #120 on the money list.

The following players finished outside the top 125 on the money list, and have lost their playing cards for the 2015 season. They will try to get them back at Q-School next week.

1- Brittany Altomare - Did not get into a single LPGA event this year.
2- Dottie Ardina - Failed to make the cut in all 6 of her starts.
3- Lindy Duncan - Missed the cut in her only LPGA event.
4- Megan Grehan - Missed the cut in 16 of her 18 starts and finished #147 on the money list.
5- Dani Holmqvist - Made just 2 of ten cuts and finished the year at #160.
6- Emma Jandel - Missed 10 of 13 cuts and finished in the #141 position.
7- Megan McChrystal - Made just 5 of 14 cuts and finished the year at the #135 spot.
8- Erica Popson - Made just 5 cuts in 19 attempts. She finished #134 on the money list.
9- Natalie Sheary - Missed the cut in all 7 of  her LPGA starts.
10- Marta Silva - Missed the cut in both her starts.
11- Caroline Westrup - Made just 1 of ten cuts and finished #159 on the money list.

Giving up the LPGA?
The following players have lost their playing cards and have not registered for Q-school.

1- Anya Alverez - She made just 2 of 12 cuts and finished #150 on the money list.
2- Kristie Smith - Missed the cut in her only start.

Be sure to check back here next week for my preview of phase 3 Q-School.
Ryann O'Toole, Kathleen Ekey, Vicky Hurst, and Veronica Felibert are among the many LPGA players who have lost their cards and will be trying to get them back.
Other notables trying to get their cards for the first time include; Charley Hull, Stephanie Meadow, Madison Pressel, Ariya Jutanugarn, Mingee Lee, and Cheyenne Woods.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stats & Facts - Volume 22 - Final 2014

We have now come to the end of 2014 LPGA season. A season that was without a doubt the best season ever. Every week we were treated to exciting and competitive events. It certainly seemed that week in and week out the outcome wasn't decided until the final hole. There were 8 tournaments that went to a playoff. We had winners from 7 different countries. Last year I asked, "How are they going to top this year?" They certainly did. Now I am thinking, "How can they top this next year?" Well, Commissioner Michael Whan is sure going to give it a try. His announcements last week that 2015 will have 33 tournaments plus the Solheim cup, higher purses, and 10% more television coverage, tells me they are off to a flying start.

Team Spain won the first playing  of the International Crown

On that note I would like to look at some of the most important statistics from 2014:

Rolex Player of the Year:
Winner:  Stacy Lewis - 231 points (receives Hall of Fame point)
Runner Up:  Inbee Park - 226
3rd Place:  Lydia Ko:  182

Vare Trophy:
Winner:  Stacy Lewis - 69.53 (receives Hall of Fame point)
Runner Up:  Inbee Park - 69.68
3rd Place:  Michelle Wie - 69.82

Official Money:
Winner:  Stacy Lewis - $2,539,039
Runner Up:  Inbee Park -  2,226,641
3rd Place:  Lydia Ko - 2,089,033

Rolex Rookie of the Year:
Winner:  Lydia Ko - 1,720 points
Runner Up:  Mirim Lee - 941
3rd Place:  Line Vedel - 538

Most Top Ten Finishes:
1- Stacy Lewis - 18
2- Inbee Park - 17
3- So Yeon Ryu - 15
3- Lydia Ko - 15
5- Michelle Wie - 13

Most Top Twenty Finishes:
1- Stacy Lewis - 22
2- Chella Choi - 20
2- So Yeon Ryu - 20
4- Lydia Ko - 19
4- Inbee Park - 19

Most Consecutive Tournaments Without a Missed Cut:
1- Stacy Lewis - 72
2- Lydia Ko - 42 (has never missed a cut in an LPGA event ever)
3- Shanshan Feng - 38
4- Julieta Granada - 21
5- Brittany Lincicome - 16

Most Wins by Country:
1- United States - 13
2- South Korea - 10
3- New Zealand - 3
4- Australia - 2
4- Sweden - 2

Most Bizarre Statistic of the Year:
Team Spain won the inaugural International Crown, but no player from that country won an LPGA event in 2014.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Spectacular Ending to 2014 LPGA Season

If this was a movie script we would have said that "it could never happen that way." The fact that it actually did, left us all with smiles on our faces, as the 2014 LPGA season came to an end. In the opinion of many, this was the greatest LPGA season ever.

I have said over and over again that it seems that every tournament this year came down to the 72nd hole, and many weren't even decided then. The last three tournaments of the season all went to a playoff. There were eight playoffs this year.

Lydio Ko, the amazing 17 year old from New Zealand was the latest playoff winner, winning the CME Group Tour Championship on the fourth hole of a sudden death playoff. She defeated Julieta Granada and Carlotta Ciganda, as all three players finished regulation at ten under par.

Besides winning the $500,000 first prize check, Lydia also won the $1,000,000 bonus.

Lydia Ko Won the $1,000,000 Bonus

Carlotta Ciganda had a chance to win the tournament on the 3rd playoff hole, but missed a short putt and play would continue. Carlotta's 2nd shot on the fourth playoff hole went into the hazard. When she had to take a drop and a one stroke penalty, it was all but over.

The tournament was filled with many other joyful accomplishments and bitter disappointments.

The weekend's biggest winner however, turned out to be Stacy Lewis. Stacy, who would finish in 9th place, would wind up the winner of every season ending award. She also earned two big Hall of Fame points. Stacy won all of the following:

  • Player of the Year award, which comes with a Hall of fame point.
  • The Vare Trophy (lowest scoring average), which also comes with a Hall of Fame point.
  • 2014 money list winner.
Stacy Lewis wins all the big season ending awards

Stacy had made it quite clear all week that winning those 2 Hall of Fame points was what was most important to her.

It was Stacy's 2nd consecutive Vare Trophy win, and second Player of the Year award in the last 3 years. It now gives Stacy 16 of the 27 points needed to get into the Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately, the weekend also had its disappointments. Inbee Park, who had a chance at all the awards that Stacy won, was never in contention.

Inbee Park came up short at a most crucial time

Inbee had come into this tournament as the LPGA's hottest golfer. She finished in the top ten in her last nine events, but her game let her down at the most crucial time of the season. Her 24th place finish this week left her with empty hands, as Stacy Lewis grabbed every award. It was a bitter disappointment for what was otherwise a very good season.

With the conclusion of the 2014 season, it has left us all looking forward to what is in store next year.

I want to congratulate Commissioner Michael Whan for all his efforts in bringing us this extroadinary 2014 LPGA season.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

LPGA Announces 2015 Schedule

The LPGA announced its 2015 LPGA schedule at 3:00PM today, and continued its current trend of upward momentum. 

LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann hosted the live stream which took place at the CME Tour Championship in Naples, Florida. Commissioner Michael Whan and Chief Commercial Officer John Podany jointly announced increased prize money, increased television coverage, and another increase in the  total number of tournaments.

Here are the highlights:

1- There will be 33 official tournaments in 2015, up from  32 in 2014. 

2- The 2015 LPGA season will kick off on Jan 28-31 with the Coates Golf Championship, in Ocala Florida. This is a brand new event. It will have a Saturday finish as the next day is the Super Bowl.

3- There will be 33 tournaments televised in 2015 (32 official tournaments and the Solheim Cup). The Mizuno Classic remains the only tournament with no TV coverage.

4- There will be 410+ hours of television coverage, up from 380 hours in 2014. Television ratings for the LPGA were up 15% this past season.

5- Prize money will be a record high $61.6 million. That is up over $4 million from 2014.

6- ANA Airlines will be the new sponsor for the first major championship of the year (Formerly the Kraft Nabisco Championship). All Nippon Airlines (ANA) has signed on through the year 2019.

LPGA Tour 2015 Season By the Numbers:
2014 Schedule   2015 Schedule   
Total Official Money Events 3233
Total Purse$57.55 Million $61.6 Million
Average Purse $1.79 Million$1.81 Million 
Official North American Events2122
Official Asian Events99
Official European Events22
Televised Events3233
Televised Hours380+410+
Unofficial Team Event International CrownSolheim Cup

Once again Commissioner Michael Whan must be commended for the continued growth in the sport that we all love. The Commissioner took over a "sinking ship" 5 years ago that had only 23 tournaments on its schedule. 

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CME Group Tour Championship

This is the one!

 If you are an LPGA fan, and you are not excited about this week's tournament, then maybe you should start watching curling or water polo.

The LPGA's overwhelmingly successful 2014 season comes to an end this week with the playing of the CME Group Tour Championship. With one million dollars and many of the most important awards still undecided, this figures to be the most exciting tournament of the year.

At stake this week are the following prizes and awards:
  1. Nine players will have a chance at the $1 million bonus for winning the 72 hole event. The top 3 players (Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, and Lydia Ko) have their fate in their own hands. If they win the championship, the $1 million will go to one of them.  
     2. The Rolex Player of the year award will be decided. Stacy Lewis currently leads Inbee Park by a 229-226 count. Player of the Year points are given out in the following way:

1st place - 30 points
2nd place - 12 points
3rd place - 9 points
4th place - 7 points
5th place - 6 points
6th place - 5 points
7th place - 4 points
8th place - 3 points
9th place - 2 points 
10th place - 1 point

          As you can clearly see, Stacy has a very slim advantage. The winner of the Player of the Year award will receive a Hall of Fame point.

      3- The Vare Trophy Award will be decided. Stacy Lewis currently holds a slim advantage (69.476 to 69.571) over Inbee Park. This may very well go down to the final stroke of the final hole. The winner of the Vare Trophy will receive a Hall of Fame point.

     4- The 2014 money list title is also at stake here. Stacy Lewis has earned $2,502,309. Once again it is Inbee Park with $2, 209,460 who is threatening that lead.

How much more excitement can a tournament provide than this?

Here are some more of the key details:

Course:  Tiburon Golf Club
Location:  Naples, Florida
Defending Champion:  Shanshan Feng
Winning Score:  66-74-67-66 = 273 (-15)

Final Field: 72 players qualified. (69 are playing)
Par:  36/36 = 72
Yardage:  Not indicated on LPGA website
Purse:  $2,000,000 

This will be one of the strongest fields of the year. The only player in the top 25 on the LPGA Priority list not in attendance is Amy Yang. 

Here are the first round pairings.

Here are the television times:
Nov 20 - GC 1:30 PM-4:00 PM ET
Nov 21 - GC 1:30 PM-4:00 PM ET
Nov 22 - GC 1:30 PM-4:00 PM ET
Nov 23 - GC 1:30 PM-4:00 PM ET

Here are my picks for this week's tournament:
1- Inbee Park
2- Shanshan Feng
3- So Yeon Ryu
4- Lydia Ko
5- Stacy Lewis
6- Michelle Wie
7- Brittany Lincicome
8- Pornanong Phatlum
9- Chella Choi
10- Azahara Munoz
11- Suzanne Pettersen
12- Cristie Kerr
I am currently in 3rd place among the 22 Pak Picker players. I still have an outside chance to win it all.

Other Tidbits:
Christina Kim's victory at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational was the 13th win by an American player this year, clinching the 2014 title for the U.S.A. Late charging South Korea has 10.

Rolex Rankings Mover of the Week:
Christina Kim catapults up from #76 to #49.

Race to the CME Globe: 
This is all explained above.

Who's Red Hot:
Inbee Park has 5 consecutive top 5 finishes, and nine consecutive top tens.

Who's Ice Cold:
Hee Young Park has failed to register a top 25 finish in her last 6 starts. She has only one top ten in 28 starts this year.

Here are the third round leaders:
1Carlota Ciganda-7F
1Julieta Granada-7F
3Morgan Pressel-6F
4Michelle Wie-5F
4Sarah Jane Smith-5F
4Sandra Gal-5F
7Chella Choi-4F
7So Yeon Ryu-4F
9Moriya Jutanugarn-3F
10Brittany Lang-2F
10Jennifer Johnson-2F
10Jenny Shin-2F
10Lydia Ko-2F
10Belen Mozo-2F

Be sure to check back here for any tournament updates. Results will be posted here after every round. Links to live scoreboards are always available at the top of this page.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Lorena Ochoa Invitational Preview & Pairings

First let me say congratulations to Mi Hyang Lee for winning the Mizuno Classic. Lee won on the 5th hole of a three player playoff. It has been quite an exciting year for the LPGA with almost every tournament going down to the final hole, or going to a playoff.

With the Asian swing of the tour completed, the LPGA moves to Mexico this week for the playing of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. With a field of just 36 players, this will be the smallest field of the year.

Defending Champion Lexi Thompson holds up her trophy

This will be tournament # 31 of 32 on this year's LPGA schedule.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Club de Golf Mexico
Location:  Mexico City, Mexico
Defending Champion:  Lexi Thompson
Winning Score:  72-64-67-69  = 272 (-16)

Final Field:  36 players
Par: 36/36 = 72
Yardage:  6,684 
Purse: $1,000,000

My strength of field rating is just 44.5%, but in this case that is a bit misleading. The low rating is because the field lacks depth with only 36 players, but the top 7 players in the world will be teeing it up. Players skipping the event this week, although they would have qualified, include: Karrie Webb, Chella Choi, Jessica Korda, and Na Yeon Choi.

Here are the pairings for round 1:

Here are the television times:
Nov 13 - GC 5:00 PM-7:00 PM ET
Nov 14 - GC 5:00 PM-7:00 PM ET
Nov 15 - GC 5:00 PM-7:00 PM ET
Nov 16 - GC 5:00 PM-7:00 PM ET

Here are my Pak Picker picks for this week's tournament:
1- Stacy Lewis
2- Inbee Park
3- Lexi Thompson
4- So Yeon Ryu
5- Shanshan Feng
6- Lydia Ko
7- Michelle Wie
8- Suzann Pettersen
9- Cristie Kerr
10- Azahara Munoz
11- Anna Nordqvist
12- Mi Hyang Lee
My accurate picking last week moved me up to 2nd place among the 22 contestants that have played this year.

Chella Choi will be taking the week off. This will break her streak of  playing in 106 consecutive tournaments. Every LPGA player has now taken at least one week off this year.

Ayaka Uehara's top ten finish at the Mizuno Classic was her first in her last 36 starts. Morgan Pressel's top ten finish broke a drought of 22 tournaments without one. 

Rolex Rankings Movers of the week:
Mi Hyang Lee vaults up from #75 to #50, while Jessica Korda moves up 2 spots to #22.

Race to the CME Globe:
Stacy Lewis increases her lead this week and now has 4,823 points. She is followed by Inbee Park with 3,912 and Lydia Ko with 3,313.

Who's Hot:
Chella Choi now has 19 top 20 finishes this year. Only Stacy Lewis (21) has more.
Pernilla Lindberg has been flying under the radar but playing the best golf of her career. She has 6 top 20 finishes in her last 12 starts.

Who's Not
P.K. Kongkraphan has not finished better than 49th in her last 16 starts.
Jennifer Johnson has failed to finish in the top 20 in any of her last 10 starts.

Here are the final results:

1x-Christina Kim-15F
2Shanshan Feng-15F
3Inbee Park-11F
4Brittany Lincicome-9F
4So Yeon Ryu-9F
6Pornanong Phatlum-8F
7Jenny Shin-7F
7Azahara Munoz-7F
9Angela Stanford-5F
9Lydia Ko-5F

Be sure to check back here daily for any tournament updates. Tournament results will be posted here at the completion of the round. Links to live scoreboards are always available at the top of this page.

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