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Rating the Rookies 2014 - Part 2

Four months have passed since I last did a report card on this year's rookies. 

I would like to change this up a bit this time, by strictly rating these girls on their chances of retaining LPGA cards for the 2015 season. Any successes or failures on other tours are not considered here. My only concern here is, are they safe for the upcoming season, or will they have to go back to qualifying school?

For those of you who might need some information on how the LPGA "Priority List" works, here is a brief explanation: 

If you finish in the top 80 on the 2014 money list, that will be your priority rating for 2015. In other words, if a player finishes #45 on the money list this year, she will be #45 on the priority list next year. That also means she will be eligible for all tournaments, since even limited fields have more than 45 players. It starts to get  real tricky after that as the top 10 players on the Symetra tour money list earn playing cards and are given the next ten spots on the Priority List. Players who finish 81-100 on the LPGA money list are then added, followed by the top 20 finishes from qualifying school. All of these players should still get into most tournaments in 2014.

If you finish 101-125 on the 2014 money list you are then added to the priority list. Unfortunately, although you get to keep your playing card, you will not get into all full field tournaments. In fact some of these players will choose to go back to qualifying school to try to improve their priority rating, or even choose to play on another tour. If you finish 126 or worse you lose your playing privileges.

The above is a general explanation, as trying to list all the categories on the priority list is too time-consuming and potentially confusing. The official LPGA website explains it in more detail. 

Very Secure:

1- Lydia Ko - Lydia has already won twice this year, and has 9 top tens. Saying that her card is secure is certainly an understatement. She is in a class by herself. Ranked #3 in the world, she has the Rookie of the Year Award all sewn up.

2- Mirim Lee - Also a winner on the LPGA tour this year, Mirim also has 2 other top ten finishes. She has made 12 of 16 cuts this year and is currently #23 on the money list. She is 2nd to Ko in the ROY race. 

3- Line Vedel - This former LET player is having a big year. Besides making 12 of 17 cuts, she has 3 top 5 finishes. Running 3rd in the ROY race, she is currently #34 on the money list and climbing fast.

4- Kim Kaufman - Probably the biggest surprise on this entire list based on expectations. Kim earned her card in Q-School this past year, but because she didn't finish very high had a very poor LPGA Priority Rating. She didn't get to play the first eight tournaments of the year so she played the Symetra Tour. When she finally got her chance, she sure opened our eyes with a 4th place finish in Texas. She proved that wasn't a fluke finishing 5th last week in Canada. She is #50 on the LPGA money list in spite of making only 12 starts. Very tall, listed at 6 feet, she looks like she is here to stay.

Looking Very Good:

1- Xi Yu Lin - When I did my original draft of this list a few days ago, she was not anywhere near this high. She changed all that this past weekend finishing 9th in Portland. That top 10 finish moved her all the way up to #71 on the money list and removed any doubt about her being around next year. She has made 10 of 15 cuts and is #4 in the ROY race.

2- Amy Anderson - Amy came onto the LPGA Tour this year with big expectations because of her 20 college victories. She has had a very up and down year. Her highlight so far is a 7th place finish in Hawaii. She has made 7 of 17 cuts this year, and is currently #82 on the money list. With her card for next year pretty much sewn up, look for her to become more consistent as she gains experience.

3- Kelly Tan - Kelly has quietly put together a very successful rookie season. She opened some eyes with her 4th place finish in Ohio. Unlike Kaufman above, she still has to show us she can do it again. Currently #85 on the money list, she appears to have done enough to be here next year.

4 & 5- Yueer Cindy Feng and Jackie Stoelting - Feng has played just 4 tournaments this year and Jackie just 1. It doesn't matter as they will gain full status on the LPGA tour next year because of the their stellar play on the Symetra Tour. Feng is currently 4th on the money list on that tour, and Jackie is 6th. 

On the Borderline:

1- Joanna Klatten - She drives the ball as far as any player on tour. Like Kim Kaufman, she had a poor LPGA Priority Rating at the start of the year and didn't get to play until the tenth tournament. She has played well making 7 of 11 cuts and finishing in the top 25 three times. She is currently hanging on to the #99 position on the money list. Hopefully she will retain her card and not go back to Q-School, but it is just a matter of time before she is here permanently. 

2- Jaye Marie Green - If the season ended today she would retain her card. Unfortunately for her, it doesn't, and she may have to make one more cut. Jaye has made 9 of 19 cuts this year and is #100 on the money list. Jaye has actually contended in a few tournaments this year only to fall down with poor final rounds. It was also unfortunate for her that one of her best finishes this year did not count on the money list because she was a sponsor exemption in a tournament with no cut on foreign soil. If that money had counted, she would be listed above some of the others I have already listed. Still very young and not as experienced as some on this list, she is seen by many as a future star. 

3-  Jennifer Kirby - Jennifer is on the outside looking in at this point because she is #109 on the money list. She has made 9 of 17 cuts but has failed to finish higher than 36th. Unlike Jaye Marie, she has lots of work to do and very little time to do it.

4- Paula Reto - It looked like she had no chance at all to retain her card coming into this past weekend. That changed quite a bit when she finished 9th in Portland giving her some hope. Unfortunately she had made only 5 of 16 cuts up until then. She moved up this week to #105 on the money list, meaning she has to have another good finish or it's back to Q-School in December. 

5- Lindy Duncan - Lindy has played just one tournament this year and missed the cut. She is currently #11 on the Symetra Tour money list, and is just one spot away from gaining full time status on the LPGA Tour. 

Not Looking Good:

1- Guilia Molinaro - Her second place finish on the Symetra Tour money list last year led to high expectations. She has not yet been able to live up to them. She has made just 7 of 19 cuts and has not finished higher than 23rd. Her current position of #114 on the money list means she needs a top ten finish fast.

2- Stacey Keating - Stacey has made just 3 of 14 cuts this year. She does have a 19th place finish giving her a very small glimmer of hope. Currently #126 on the money list, she also needs a top ten finish fast.

3- Erica Popson - She has made just 5 of 18 cuts this year and her best finish is 44th. Her #133 position on the money list puts her in the same position as the two players above her.

4- Emma Jandel - It has been a very tough season for Emma. Her best finish in 12 starts is 48th. Making just 4 cuts this year has put her in a position where she might need a top 5 finish in Alabama (probably her last opportunity), to retain her card.

Looking Dismal:

The following rookies have little or no chance of retaining their LPGA playing cards for the 2015 season. Qualifying School is definitely in their future. (In alphabetical order)

1- Brittany Altomare - Has not played an LPGA event this year
2- Anya Alvarez - Has made just 2 of 12 cuts
3- Dottie Ardina - Has not made a cut in her 4 opportunities
4- Megan Grehan - Has made just 2 of 17 cuts
5- Dani Holmqvist - Has failed to make the cut in all of her 7 opportunities
6- Natalie Sheary - Has not made a cut in 5 starts
7- Marta Silva - Has missed the cut in both of her opportunities
8- Kristie Smith - Played only once and failed to make the cut.
9- Caroline Westrup - Eight opportunities and 8 missed cuts

Other Tidbits:
Jenny Shin missed the cut this past weekend for the first time in her last 20 starts.
Moriya Jutanugarn, last year's Rookie of the Year, finally broke through with a 19th place finish. It was her first top 20 finish in 21 starts this year.
Austin Ernst became the 8th American player to win a tournament this year. The Americans now have a total of 12 victories this year. South Korea is next in line with 3 players totaling 4 wins.

Rolex Movers of the week:
Line Vedel jumps up from #72 to #64, while Austin Ernst catapults from the #145 position all the way to #74.

Race to the CME Globe: (1 Million Dollars)
Stacy Lewis continues to have a huge lead with 3,964 points. She is followed by Inbee Park with 2,993 and Lydia Ko with 2,800.

Who's Hot:
Eun-Hee Ji has very quietly amassed 4 top tens and 7 top 20 finishes this year.

Who's Not:
Giulia Sergas has missed the cut in her last 4 tournaments.
Mika Miyazato has failed to register a top 20 finish this entire season.

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  1. Very detailed list, Tony. Well done. The entire Not Looking Good category will remain so in my opinion. Joanna Klatten may need another fresh start. Jennifer Kirby has to post more than one good round per tournament.

  2. I wonder what the percentage is historically of rookies who finish their first season in the top 100... top 125.

    1. Dave, in recent years the percentage of rookies to retain full time status has been between 33% and 40%.

  3. Question... If a player finishes #125 on the money list at the end of the season she retains some status for the following year, correct? Below #125 they don't? It seems like #125 drops down to about #155 for the next season (behind the new Symetra 10 and the 20 from Q School? But above the 20-45 finishers at Q School. I've known players who finished in the 116 to 125 range on the money list and seemed to get plenty of playing opportunities in the following season even if they did not improve their status at Q School.

    1. Yes, #125 does maintain their playing card but will not get into all full field events. Depending on the year and how many medical exemptions are given, etc., #125 on the money list could turn out to be anywhere from #152 to #160 on the next years Priority List. As you know most full field events have a field of 144, meaning if you are #160 on the Priority List you have to hope 16 players sit out so you can play. That is why a player like Tiffany Joh, who finished #117 on the ML last year, went back to Q-School. She was successful and moved all the way up to #119 on the Priority List giving her full time status. Also since she got a category 12 playing card, she was not subject to the reshuffles. Remember, those players ranked 101-125 on the money list, although retaining their cards, are subject to the 2 reshuffles during the year and could then find themselves behind those players who finished 21-40 at Q-School (who are also part of the reshuffle). So that #160 on the Priority list we talked about could now be as high as #180.

  4. 140 spots generally available for full field events (144 minus 2 sponsor exemptions and 2 Monday qualifiers). It often seems that 10 or more top-ranked players often skip an event, so #150 on the priority list... or even higher... gets into most of those. A girl I know was #152 at the beginning of the year and she got into 7 of the first 8 full field events, I think, which gave her a good chance to improve her status in the first "reshuffle" of the priority list. Unfortunately she didn't do it, and ended that season with no status. So had to go back to Q School and start the process al over again. It is not for the weak of heart... haha


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