Monday, February 9, 2015

How Good are the 2015 LPGA Rookies?

If we had any doubts that the 2015 LPGA season could ever match the excitement of 2014, those doubts no longer exist. Once again this weekend we had an extraordinary finish. This time it was a 3 way playoff that included two 2015 rookies, Sei Young Kim, and Ariya Jutanugarn.

How good is the 2015 rookie crop? I am going to say without a doubt the best in LPGA history.
Not only did 2 rookies go into a playoff in this week's Pure Silk LPGA Classic, but a rookie finished in 2nd place last week at the Coates Championship.

Sei Young Kim holds up her Pure Silk Classic trophy

With 32 rookies this year, here are my top ten picks:

1- Hyo- Joo Kim - The cream of the crop. If she doesn't win the top rookie award it will be because she chose to play a number of tournaments in Asia, and her LPGA appearances were limited.  She has won 8 times on the KLPGA tour. This 19 year old is already ranked #7 in the Rolex Rankings. She received her LPGA card when she won the Evian Championship last year. 

2- Ha Na Jang - She has won 6 times on the KLPGA tour, and at the age of 22 is ready to make some big noise on the world's biggest tour. In her first event as an LPGA member, she finished in 2nd place last week at the Coates Championship. She is currently ranked #19 in the world rankings.

3- Ariya Jutanugarn - Trying to become part of the first sister act to both win the Rookie of the Year award. At just 19 years old  she is a future superstar! She finished in second place this past weekend losing in a playoff to Sei Young Kim. She is currently ranked # 58 in the world, and will see the top 10 very soon.

4- Q-Baek - She received her LPGA card as a result of winning last year's KEB Hana Bank Classic as an non LPGA member. This 19 year old has already won 4 times on the KLPGA, and is ranked #11 in the current Rolex Rankings. 

5- Sei Young Kim - Don't have to say much here except that she won the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic this past weekend. She is 22 years old and is currently ranked #23 in the world.

6- Charley Hull - Will make her debut as an LPGA member next week in Australia. Already a winner on the LET (and took top rookie honors), this 18 year old future star is set to make a big splash on the LPGA tour. As a non LPGA member, she finished 7th at last year's Kraft Nabisco Championship. She is currently ranked #39 in the world.

7- Minjee Lee - Co-winner of the Q-School tournament, Minjee is 18 years old and destined for greatness. As a non LPGA member, she finished 11th at the Australian Open, 22nd at the U.S. Open, and 16th at the Evian Championship last year. She is currently ranked #68 in the world.

8- Alison Lee - She doesn't have the experience of the players above, but she has an abundance of talent. One of only two Americans on this list, she finished 13th last week at the Coates Championship. She was also the co-winner of the Q-School tournament.

9- Sakura Yokomine - This rookie, at 29 years old, is the veteran of the group. A 23 time winner on the JLPGA, she finished 7th in the 2014 U.S. Women's Open. She is ranked #51 in the world.

10- Cheyenne Woods -  I don't think she is of the caliber of the players listed ahead of her, but she does have an LET victory on her resume.

I think any one of the top 7 on this list could be in contention for rookie honors. There are other players like Stephanie Meadow (third at last year's U.S. Open), and Ju Young Park (Hee Young's sister), who could make some noise.

Other Tidbits:
Mika Miyazato's 19th place finish at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, was her first top 20 finish in her last 19 starts.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Sei Young Kim's victory this past weekend catapults her from #40 to #23. Ariya Jutanugarn leaps from #100 to #58, while Brittany Lincicome moves from #20 to #18.

Race to the CME Globe:
Na Yeon Choi and Sei Young Kim lead with 500 points apiece. They are followed by Lydia Ko with 390 points.

Who's Hot:
Lydia Ko and Sun Young Yoo are the only players to finish in the top ten in the first two LPGA tournaments.

Who's Not:
Haeji Kang, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Belen Mozo, and Ayaka Uehara, have missed both cuts.

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