If you watch the LPGA regularly I am sure you hear it mentioned at least once every broadcast that Paula Creamer has not won since winning the U.S. Open in 2010. That of course is true, but doesn't tell the entire story of the level of golf Paula is playing. When a top player doesn't win for 3 years it usually means that they are in some kind of playing slump. Looking at Paula's record, she really has not had a period in her career where she has ever played poor golf. In fact, I can't find where she has ever had three bad tournaments in a row. It seems that in spite of the fact that she has been absent from the winner's circle for 3 years, she is always on the first or second page of the leader board. In fact she has finished in the top twenty 11 times this year already. That is more times than Inbee, Yani, Suzann, and Stacy. That is more times than anyone on the LPGA this year. She has also made 56 consecutive cuts.
Paula's 4th place finish in last week's U.S. Open put her over the 10 million dollar mark in career earnings. She is the 8th player to achieve that feat. She did it in 194 tournaments. Only Lorena Ochoa accomplished it quicker.
How does that stack up against some of today's brightest stars? Let's take a look.
Cristie Kerr - $14,867,000 (396 starts)
Se Ri Pak - $11,903,000 (323 starts)
Suzann Pettersen - $10,197,000 (213 starts)
Paula Creamer - 10,096,000 (194 starts)
Yani Tseng - $9,244, 985 (133 starts)
Na Yeon Choi - $8,119,000 (137 starts)
Angela Stanford - $7,695,000 (295 starts)
Ai Miazato - $7,451,000 (166 starts)
Inbee Park - $7,374,000 (148 starts)
Jiyai Shin - $6,005,000 (110 starts)
I.K. Kim - $6,001,000 (154 starts)
Brittany Lincicome - $5,191,000 (191 starts)
Stacy Lewis - 4,947,000 (122 starts)
Those are the current active players highest on the career money list. I left out Juli Inkster because the LPGA stats don't go back to when she first started. It would not be fair to include her anyway because 30 years ago the prize money was very small.
Now let's look at those same players and rank them by the average prize money they have made per tournament:
1- Yani Tseng - $69,353
2- Na Yeon Choi - $59,263
3- Jiyai Shin - $54,591
4- Paula Creamer - $52, 041
5- Inbee Park - $49,824
6- Suzann Pettersen - $47,873
7- Ai Miyazato - $44,904
8- Stacy Lewis - $40,549
9- I.K. Kim - $38,967
10- Brittany Lincicome - 27,178
11- Angela Stanford - 26,084
I dropped Kerr and Pak from the above list because they started much earlier than the rest of the players. Prize money was much smaller then, and the numbers would be distorted. They wouldn't reflect the great Hall of Fame career of Se Ri.
All of those players I listed above have been playing on the tour a minimum of 5 years (Jiyai), to a maximum 10 years (Pettersen). Paula is in her 9th season. Prize money, although it has increased some, has not changed all that drastically over that 5 year span. Certainly not like the PGA. So although studies like this one are never perfect, we ARE comparing apples to apples here.
Getting back to Paula (this is an article about Paula), her $52,000 plus per tournament stands up to any active player in the game today, even without winning in 3 years.
Yani Tseng's numbers, although looking quite impressive, are dropping quite quickly. She has failed to win in her last 32 outings and has averaged under $20,000 per event over that period. Although Paula hasn't won during that time frame either, she has averaged over $40,000 per event.
Paula would be the first to tell you that winning is what she wants more than anything. Winning is what she is out there to do. Sure, I agree with that, but the fact remains she is putting some big career numbers on the board. She has put up very impressive numbers for 9 years now (and isn't even 27 yet). You wonder if the big new stars on the LPGA can sustain a high level of play for that long. I guess only time will tell.