Back in July I sat down here and wrote who I thought were my Biggest Surprises & Disappointments of the 2013 season. The LPGA had only played 15 of the 28 tournaments on the schedule at that point, a lot has changed since then. Now that the season has ended, it is time to take a final look.
1- Lydia Ko - How can somebody this young be so good? Lydia defended her Canadian Open Title in 2013 at the tender age of 16. She also finished 2nd at the Evian Championship, 3rd at the Australian Open, 4th at the Walmart Championship, 7th at the Marathon Classic, and 9th at the Lotte Championship. She did all of that making just 10 LPGA starts.
2-Beatriz Recari - Beatriz really stepped up to the next level in 2013. Although she did get her maiden victory in 2012, few expected this much of an improvement. Beatriz won twice in 2013, had 4 top 5 finishes, 9 top tens, and 14 top twenties. She finished #32 on the 2012 money list, and jumped all the way up to #8 this year.
3- Inbee Park - Wasn't sure if I should include her on this list. You ask why? It's because she did finish #1 on the money list in 2012, so finishing #1 again isn't so surprising. She also had a big drop-off in the second half of the season. She had more top tens last year than she did this year. Then I thought about the 3 consecutive Major Championship wins, that was sure a surprise. Just not a surprise enough to put her #1.
4- Lexi Thompson - I know she has always had the "can't miss" label attached to her. But haven't we seen that attached to other golfers who have never lived up to it? Lexi has improved each season, but this season at the age of eighteen, took it to another level, moving from #21 on the 2012 money list to #6 in 2013. She finished the year with 8 straight top 20 finishes. Two of those were victories, and 4 were top tens. She had 7 top tens in all.
5- Lizette Salas - Lizette has snuck up on us very quickly. In 2013 she posted 6 top ten finishes, which was good enough to move her from last year's #55, to this year's #15 on the money list.
6- Pornanong Phatlum - She kept getting better as the year went by. She did everything but win on the LPGA Tour (she did win on the L.E.T. recently). She was #55 on the money list last year, but her 4 top fives and 7 top tens led her to a #23 finish this year.
7- Jodi Ewart-Shadoff - I expected this a year sooner, but she arrived in 2013. This lady has one of the sweetest swings in the game, and proved it this year with 6 top tens, and 11 top twenty finishes. She jumped up this year from #56 to #29 on the money list.
8- Gerina Piller - You could see this starting to develop in the second half of 2012. In 2013 she finished in the top ten 8 times. She ended the season on a high note, with a 2nd place finish at the CME Titleholders. She jumped from last year's #48 to this year's #26 on the money list.
9- Jessica Korda - An injured wrist is the only reason she isn't way up on this list. She was unable to play in consecutive weeks most of the second half of the season, limiting her to 6 top 10 finishes. Even with all the time on the sidelines, Jessica still improved her money list standing from #41 to #25. If she is healthy next year watch out!
1- Yani Tseng - This one was easy. Yani started the year the number one player in the Rolex Rankings. She is now battling to stay in the top 30. In her last 22 starts, she managed only 2 top ten finishes, while finishing out of the top forty 13 times. She was #4 on the 2012 money list, and #38 this year.
2- Ai Miyazato - At the start of the season who could have possibly guessed that these two great players would be listed this high? My only concern about Ai, was when she would win that first Major Championship. Only 2 top tens in 21 starts, now brings about other concerns. Last year's #5 player on the money list, was this year's #27.
3- Vicky Hurst - Vicky came out of the Symetra Tour with high expectations that she would win early on in her career. She has not lived up to those expectations. This year brought a total collapse.
In 25 starts, Vicky, failed to register a single top 10 finish. She also missed 8 cuts. Her money list fall was dramatic, as she fell from #35 to #74.
4- Momoko Ueda - It is hard to make this list two year's running, but Momoko did. Last year she fell from #34 to #58 on the money list. This year she fell from #58 to #88. How bad was it? She did not have a top 25 finish all year.
5- Brittany Lang - With her maiden victory last year and her engagement to be married, it looked like this might be a big year for Brittany. It wasn't. Brittany played in all 28 tournaments this year, and had just 1 top ten. Her 6 missed cuts led to her drop from #24 to #42 on the money list.
6- Candie Kung - I am pretty sure that I watched every round of golf that was televised this year, and I don't ever remember seeing Candie hit a single shot. In fact in her last 22 starts she failed to have a top 10 finish, while failing to make the top forty, 17 times. She dropped from #28 to #54 on the money list.
7- Hee Kyung Seo - It wasn't a terrible season for the "Model of the Fairways," but we all expected big things from her this year. Her 3 top tens in 22 starts was definitely a step and a half backwards.
Finishing #22 on the 2012 money list, she slipped back to #33.