Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rating the 2015 LPGA Rookies - Part 1

With the LPGA season about 1/3 complete I would like to take a look at how the rookies are faring so far this year. I will do this again at the 2/3 mark and a final time at the end of the season. These ratings are strictly based on how they fared in LPGA events only. Any successes or failures on other tours are not considered here. My main objective here is to analyze the chances of these rookies retaining their LPGA cards next season. Ideally you would like to finish in the top 80 on the money list. That will guarantee you a priority list ranking good enough to compete in all full-field events. If you finish further down the money list you then have to deal with the top 10 ladies coming off the Symetra Tour, and qualifying school graduates getting to play ahead of you. If you finish in the top 100 on this year's money list, you will still play in most events next year. Further down the list than that, there are no guarantees about playing time.  Let's take a look at how they are doing so far. 

Hyo Joo Kim is already ranked #4 in the world.

In alphabetical order:

Q- Baek -  A winner last year as a non LPGA member, expectations were high that she would be a huge factor in this year's rookie of the year race. The results so far, although not bad, have not been what we expected. She has not had a top 10 finish yet this year in 9 starts. The fact that she is ranked 111th in driving accuracy tells part of the story. She has made 7 of 9 cuts, and is currently 6th in the ROY race. Her 72.42 scoring average is okay for an average rookie, but she needs to improve on that to contend. That said, her #49 ranking on the money list tells me she will have no problem retaining her card. Grade B- 

Laetitia Beck - The first LPGA player from Israel is not off to a very good start. She has teed it up 5 times this year, but has missed 3 cuts and has a 70th place finish. A tie for 27th place earlier in the year is her best finish to date. Her scoring average of 73.57 is not very good, and her current 119th ranking on the money list will have to improve. Grade D+

Kendall Dye - It took Kendall awhile to get her LPGA card, but if she doesn't improve dramatically she is not going to have it very long. The opportunities have been there, but she has made only 1 cut in 9 events this year. Her 75.20 scoring average and her #153 money ranking have her in big trouble. Grade F

Simon Feng - Another player that has had plenty of opportunities but has not taken advantage of them. Feng has only made 3 of 9 cuts this year and her scoring average of 73.36, although better than many on this list, isn't good enough. Her best finish this year is 59th, and she finds herself #118 on the money list. Grade D+

Casey Grice - Her poor priority rating has forced her to play mostly on the Symetra Tour this year, where she is currently #7 on the money list. She has played only 1 LPGA event and missed the cut. Grade Incomplete

Emma De Groot - Like Casey above, she has played mostly on the Symetra tour this year. She has not faired all that well there and is currently 39th on that tour's money list. She has played only one LPGA event and missed the cut. Grade Incomplete

Celine Herbin - Has not played on the LPGA tour yet this year. Grade Incomplete

Wei-Ling Hsu - Wei-Ling has played a lot this year and most of the time with decent results. Although her best finish is 25th this year, she has missed only 2 cuts in 10 tournaments. Her 72.94 scoring average could be better, but isn't bad either. Time will tell if her length (96th on the tour) will be a problem. For now her #72 ranking on the money list has her in good shape. Grade B-

Charley Hull - Charley's poor priority ranking has limited her to only 3 starts this year. She certainly took advantage of them. She made all 3 cuts and even has a 7th place finish. The first LPGA reshuffle last week has now put Charley in a position where she can play in all full field events. She will not have to worry about retaining her card for a very long time. Grade B

Ha Na Jang - One of the most consistent players on the LPGA this year, Ha Na has already had 4 top 10 finishes. Her missed cut this past weekend was the first one this year, and she has teed it up 10 times. Her scoring average of 70.79 is very good. She is currently #13 on the money list. Grade A-

Ariya Jutanugarn - Will the real Ariya please step forward. A tale of two seasons so far this year. She started out like she was going to go straight to the top of the Rolex World Rankings. She finished in the top 20 in her first 5 tournaments of the year, finishing in 2nd place at the Pure Silk tournament in the Bahamas. Since then she has played so poorly that you wonder if she is injured. In her last 6 tournaments she has missed 4 cuts and has a 76th place finish. She can't find the fairway anymore, ranking #148 in that category. Her 72.03 scoring average is still good, and she has certainly done enough to retain her card. Grade B

Soo Bin Kim - She has played just enough for her results to meaningful. She has made the cut in 3 of 5 tournaments, with her best finish a tie for 25th. Putting appears to be her problem as her ranking is 107th. Her scoring average of 72.88 needs to come down a bit. Currently #115 on the money list, she needs to take better advantage of her future starts. Grade C- 

Hyo Joo Kim - The cream of the crop. Her 69.64 scoring average is the best, by far, of any rookie. She has made the cut in all of her 9 starts this year, and amazingly has 7 top 11 finishes, and 8 top 20's. Already ranked #4 in this week's Rolex World Rankings, look for her to to battling for the #1 spot soon. Grade A+

Sei Young Kim - Already a 2 time winner this year, Sei Young is a very big surprise. Her 70.40 scoring average is excellent if not compared to Hyo Joo above. Her one achilles heel could be that she is ranked #119 in driving accuracy. That will have to be watched. She has made 10 of 11 cuts this year, but has tailed off lately, finishing 48th and 49th in her last 2 starts.  Grade A

Therese Koelbaek - Has had the opportunities but has not taken advantage of them, making just 2 of 6 cuts. Her scoring average of 73.35 needs to come down some. Currently #125 on the money list, she has a lot of work to do. Grade D

Minjee Lee - An up and down season really turned up this past week as she won the Kingsmill Championship. Her 71.56 scoring average is very good, as is her #14 ranking on the money list. She has made 7 cuts in 11 tournaments this year. Like Hyo Joo above, a superstar in the making. Grade A-

Min Lee - Everything about her season is very mediocre. She has made 5 of 9 cuts, has a scoring average of 73.50 and ranks #100 on the money list. Her best finish to date is a tie for 24th. Her season could go either way. Grade C

Jeong Eun Lee - Has not played this year. Grade Incomplete

Alison Lee - Another future superstar. Her 70.97 scoring average is excellent. She already has 3rd and 4th place finishes this year. Needs to be a bit more consistent as shown by her 3 missed cuts this year, but that will come with time. Currently # 21 on this year's money list. Grade B+

Stephanie Meadow - There will be some who think my grades are very tough. They have to be as many of these players have to take advantage of what may be limited opportunities. If they don't they will lose their playing privileges. Stephanie is the perfect example of someone who came through when she had to. Playing in only 1 tournament this year because of a poor priority rating, she posted a top 20 finish. With the new reshuffle she will now be playing regularly. She entered last week's tournament, but had to pull out when her father passed away. In spite of playing just once she is #95 on the money list, with a scoring average of 71.25. She finished 3rd in last year's U.S. Women's Open. Another future star. Grade B- 

Elizabeth Nagle - Has not played this year on the LPGA tour. She has played regularly on the Symetra tour (currently 29 on that tour's money list) with mediocre results. Grade Incomplete

Ju Young Park - The younger sister of Hee Young Park has had enough opportunities to impress, but has failed to do so. In fact, her season has been nothing short of disasterous. Her scoring average of 74.50 and her #152 ranking on the money list puts her near the bottom of the 32 rookies listed here. She made just 1 cut in 5 attempts and that was a 58th place finish. She should still get quite a few more opportunities, but needs to show a marked improvement to retain her card. Grade F

Sadena Parks - Hasn't shown that her game belongs on the LPGA. She has made just 1 of 9 cuts and is #145 on the money list. Her scoring average of 75.00 won't cut it in the big time. Grade F

Sophie Popov - Has made 2 of 4 cuts this year, but her best finish is 55th. Her scoring average of 73.75 needs to come down. Currently #128 on the money list, she needs to step up her game to retain her card. Grade D-

Debbie Runus - Another rookie that has struggled this year to keep her head above water. Has played regularly but has made only 3 of 8 cuts, with a best finish of 54th. Her scoring average of 73.44 needs to be improved, and her #129 money list ranking has to come down quite a bit to retain her card. Grade D-

Marta Sanz Barrio - Missed the cut in the only tournament she has played this year. Grade Incomplete

Kelly Shon - Her results so far this season show some definite potential. She has teed it up 9 times this year making 4 cuts, with an 11th place finish being her highlight so far. Her scoring average of 73.15 is better than most on this list. Currently #93 on the money list, she doesn't have a lot of room for error. Grade C

Marissa Steen - Another rookie that has had plenty of opportunities but as of now is not in a very good position to retain her playing card. She has made just 3 cuts in 9 starts, with a best finish of 38th. Her scoring average is a very poor 74.28. She is currently #124 on the money list.  Grade D-

Cheyenne Woods - So far the results haven't lived up to what are probably very unfair expectations. She hasn't been horrible, but she hasn't been all that good either. She has made just half of her cuts (4 of 8), and has a very mediocre 73.50 scoring average. Her best finish this year is 24th, and she currently resides at #110 on the money list. Grade C- 

Jing Yan - Her 11th place finish last week has made me erase everything I previously had prepared to write about her. She had previously moved up from #183 to #154 when the reshuffle was posted last week. She will move up more on the next reshuffle. She has made the cut in all 4 her her events and has her scoring average down to 72.50. Currently #94 on the money list, she is heading in the right direction. Grade C+

Julie Yang - Moving up 20 spots to #152 after the reshuffle of the priority list should get her a few more starts. She has made only 1 of 4 cuts but her scoring average of 72.90 says that she isn't playing that badly. Her best finish this year is 34th and she resides at #131 on the money list. Needs to take advantage of the opportunities she gets before the next reshuffle. Grade D

Sakura Yokomine - Although she is having a pretty decent year so far, like Q-Baek, we all expected more. Her 72.00 scoring average is certainly good enough to keep her playing on this tour, but we didn't expect just one top 10 and 4 missed cuts. Currently #51 on the money list her card is secure. Grade B-

Other Tidbits:
Stacy Lewis has now made the cut in 82 consecutive tournaments. That is one more than the 81 reached by Paula Creamer last year. 

With a scoring average of 69.639, Hyo Joo Kim moves ahead of Lydia Ko into third place in the race for the Vare Trophy. Stacy Lewis currently leads the tour with a 69.525. Stacy won that race last year and received a Hall of Fame point for her accomplishment.

Karine Icher had her cut streak stopped at 20. Christine Song has now missed 14 consecutive cuts. 

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Minjee Lee soars up from #59 to #19, while Alison Lee springs up from #100 to #61.

Race to the CME Globe:
Lydia Ko continues to lead with 2,090 points. Inbee Park is next with 1,866, while Stacy Lewis moves past Sei Young Kim into 3rd place with 1,612.

Who's Hot:
Hyo Joo Kim has never finished outside of the top 25 in her 19 career LPGA starts.

Who's Not:
Caroline Hedwall has not finished inside the top 25 in any of her 9 starts this year.
Sun Young Yoo has missed 6 cuts in her last 7 starts.

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  1. Well done, but no mention of Brooke Henderson.....they should let her play in spite of her age...

  2. I didn't mention Brooke Henderson because she is not a rookie.