Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Stats & Facts - Volume 26 / Asian Swing News

With the LPGA nearing the end of its longest break of the year, it's a good time to take a look at the key player statistics after the first 24 tournaments of the year. Only 7 tournaments remain on the 2015 schedule, so the race for the major awards is really heating up.

It looks like Inbee Park & Lydia Ko will be fighting it out for all the major awards

Rolex Player of the Year: (Winner receives a Hall of Fame point)
1- Inbee Park - 243 points
2- Lydia Ko - 224
3- Sei Young Kim - 122
4- Stacy Lewis - 113
5- Lexi Thompson - 104
This appears to be a 2 player race, with Inbee & Lydia going down to the wire.

Vare Trophy: (Winner receives a Hall of Fame point)
1- Inbee Park - 69.442 strokes per round
2- Lydia Ko - 69.534
3- Stacy Lewis - 69.725
4- Hyo Joo Kim - 69.986
5- Lexi Thompson - 70.096
This race is still up for grabs. The top three are very close, but don't count anyone out yet.

Official Money:
1- Inbee Park - $2,316,422
2- Lydia Ko - $2,190,922
3- Stacy Lewis - $1,538,431
4- Sei Young Kim - $1,375,797
5- Lexi Thompson - 1,307,893
It looks Like Inbee and Lydia will go down to the wire again.

Race to the CME Globe (1 million dollars)
1- Lydia Ko - 3,893 points
2- Inbee Park - 3,832
3- Stacy Lewis - 2,773
4- Sei Young Kim - 2,563
5- Lexi Thompson - 2,181
Don't let the fact that Inbee & Lydia are way ahead fool you. These points are reset before that final big tournament, making those big leads much smaller. Stacy was way ahead last year and did not win.

Before I go any further, I want to say the above races are the most important of all the stats I have compiled. It shows which players are truly having the best seasons.
It clearly shows the following:
1- Inbee Park and Lydia Ko are far and away having the best seasons on the LPGA tour.
2- Stacy Lewis, in spite of not winning, is staying close enough where a big finish could put her in contention for an award or two.
3- Hyo Joo Kim & Sei Young Kim, in their rookie seasons, have quickly put their names up there with the very best players on tour.
4- Lexi Thompson has quietly blossomed into the superstar she was advertised to be. She is one of just 4 players (Inbee, Lydia, and Stacy are the others), who are listed in all of the above races. She is now the number four ranked player in the world.

Most Top Five Finishes:
1- Inbee Park - 10
2- Lydia Ko - 9
3- Stacy Lewis - 7
3- So Yeon Ryu - 7
5- Sei Young Kim - 6

Most Top Tens:
1- Inbee Park - 13
2- Lydia Ko - 12
3- Stacy Lewis - 11
4- Lexi Thompson - 10
4- Shanshan Feng - 10

Most Top Twenty Finishes:
1- Inbee Park - 18
2- Stacy Lewis - 17
3- Hyo Joo Kim - 15
4- Sei Young Kim - 14
4- Lydia Ko - 14
6- Lexi Thompson - 13
6- So Yeon Ryu - 13

Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award:
1- Sei Young Kim - 1200 points
2- Hyo Joo Kim - 1102
3- Minjee Lee - 936
4- Ha Na Jang - 694
5- Alison Lee - 693
The best rookie crop ever? This one appears to be a 2 player race, but don't count Minjee out yet.

Solheim Cup Points:
1- Lexi Thompson - 58
2- Kris Tamulis - 40
3-Alison Lee - 32
4- Stacy Lewis - 28
5- Morgan Pressel - 22
6- Austin Ernst - 20
7- Sydnee Michaels - 18
8- Jaye Marie Green - 16
It's early. But they all count.

Most Wins By Country:
1- South Korea - 12
2- United States - 4
3- New Zealand - 4
4- Four tied with - 1

Other Tidbits:

There are no more full field events remaining on the LPGA schedule. All of the remaining 7 events have limited fields. Here are the field numbers for all the remaining events:

1- Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia - Field 75, From LPGA list 63, 12 sponsor exemptions.
2- LPGA KEB Hana Bank - Field 78, 58 LPGA, 12 KLPGA, 7 sponsor exemptions.
3- Fubon LPGA Taiwan - Field 81, 61 LPGA, 15 Taiwan LPGA, 4 sponsor exemptions.
4- Blue Bay LPGA - Field 81, LPGA 61, 15 China LPGA, 4 sponsor exemptions
5- Toto Japan Classic - Field 78, LPGA 43, Japan LPGA 35, no sponsor exemptions.
6- Lorena Ochoa Invitational - Field 36, LPGA 31, 5 sponsor exemptions
7- CME Group Tour Championship - Field 72, LPGA 72.
On all 5 tournaments of the Asian swing, LPGA players qualify by their placement on this year's money list, not the priority list that was used for all the previous tournaments.

All money earned by players that got into the field as a sponsor exemption (on all Asian swing tournaments), will not count as official money, and therefore will not help in any way in retaining their playing cards for 2016.

The following players have been given sponsor exemptions into next week's Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia:
1- Aditi Ashok (a)
2- Anil Baker
3- Nur Durriyah Damian (a)
4- Christina Kim
5- Michelle Koh
6- Cindy Lee Pridgen
7- Ryann O'Toole
8- Melissa Reid
9- Paula Reto
10- Jennifer Rosales
11- Kelly Tan
12- Cheyenne Woods

The following players have been given sponsor exemptions for the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship, that will be played two weeks from now.
1- Hee Yun Chong
2- Yu-Sang Hou
3- Mi Jung (MJ) Hur
4- Juli Inkster
5- Han Sol Ji
6- Ai Miyazato
7- Min Lee

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Year - Part 2

With the LPGA taking a 2 week break I would like to take this opportunity to take a look at the players that have taken the biggest leaps, and the biggest falls in the Rolex Rankings in 2015. I last did this when the season was 1/3 over. Now we have completed over 75% of the schedule, and things have changed dramatically.

The Rolex Rankings system awards points to players based on an accumulated 104-week "rolling" period, with the points awarded in the most recent 13-week period carrying a stronger value. A player is then ranked according to her average points per tournament, as determined by dividing her total number of points by the number of eligible tournaments played during the 104-week period. A minimum divisor (35) is also used. I have gone back to the first Rolex Rankings of the year and compared them to the current rankings. The only requirements for my list are: A player must have been ranked in the top 100 at the start of the year, or be in the top 100 now. 

Brooke Henderson is  currently the Rolex Rankings biggest mover of 2015

The Year's Biggest Gainers:

1- Brooke Henderson - 0.51 to 4.48 = Gain of 3.97 (Moved from # 223 to #16)
2- Minjee Lee - 1.45 to 4.89 = Gain of 3.44 (Move 78 -13)
3- Alison Lee - 0.09 to 3.43 = Gain of 3.34 (Move 482 - 27)
4- Lydia Ko - 9.66 to 12.68 = Gain of 3.02 (Move 2 - 2)
5- Sei Young Kim - 2.46 to 5.35 = Gain of 2.89 (Move 39 - 10)
6- Amy Yang - 3.32 to 5.49 = Gain of 2.17 (Move 23 - 9)
7- Inbee Park - 10.61 to 12.76 = Gain of 2.15 (Move 1 - 1)
8- In Gee Chun - 3.49 to 5.34 = Gain of 1.85 (Move 19-11)
9- Morgan Pressel - 2.16 to 3.79 = Gain of 1.63 (Move 52 - 22)
10- Jin-Young Ko - 2.42 to 3.90 = Gain of 1.48 (Move 41 - 21)
11- Lexi Thompson - 5.31 to 6.68 = Gain of 1.37 (Move 10 - 4)
12- Nicole Larson - 0.41 to 1.59 = Gain of 1.18 (Move 249 - 72)
13- Brittany Lincicome - 3.63 to 4.80 = Gain of 1.17 (Move 18- 14)
14- Maria McBride - 0.06 to 1.22 = Gain of 1.16 (Move 528 - 98)
14- Bo-Me Lee - 2.60 to 3.76 = Gain of 1.16 (Move 36 - 24)
16- Candie Kung - 0.76 to 1.78 = Gain of 1.02 (Move 154 - 62)
16- Sung-Hyan Park - 0.67 to 1.69 = Gain of 1.02 (Move 169 - 66)
18- Teresa Lu - 2.70 to 3.69 = Gain of 0.99 (Move 33-25)
19- Mika Miyazato - 1.37 to 2.29 = Gain of 0.92 (Move 82 - 45)
20- Austin Ernst - 1.51 to 2.25 = Gain of 0.74 (Move 75 to 47)
20- Mi Hyang Lee - 2.03 to 2.74 = Gain of 0.74 (Move 56 - 31)

Michelle Wie has been the Rolex Rankings biggest decliner in 2015

The Year's Biggest Decliners:

1- Michelle Wie - 6.30 to 3.91 = Loss of 2.39 (Moved from #6 to #20)
2- Q Baek - 4.90 to 2.77 = Loss of 2.13 (Move 11-32)
3- Karrie Webb - 5.56 to 3.77 = Loss of 1.79 (Move 9 - 23)
4- Suzann Pettersen - 6.85 to 5.53 = Loss of 1.32 (Move 4 to 8)
5- Paula Creamer - 3.47 to 2.24 = Loss of 1.23 (Move 20 - 50)
6- Se Ri Pak - 1.95 to 0.83 = Loss of 1.12 (Move 59 - 146)
7- Jessica Korda - 3.30 to 2.25 = Loss of 1.05 (Move 24 to 48)
8- Caroline Hedwall - 2.03 to 1.01 = Loss of 1.02 (Move 55 to 120)
9- Meena Lee - 2.16 to 1.24 = Loss of 0.92 (Move 51 - 96)
10- Catriona Matthew - 2.83 to 1.92 = Loss of 0.91 (Move 28 - 56)
11- Yoon-Kyung Heo - 2.71 to 1.81 = Loss of 0.90 (Move 32 - 61)
12- Sun Ju Ahn - 3.97 to 3.10 = Loss of 0.87 (Move 15 - 29)
13- Angela Stanford - 3.37 to 2.55 = Loss of 0.82 (Move of 22 - 36)
13- Jodi Ewart Shadoff - 1.53 to 0.71 = Loss of 0.82 (Move 74 to 175)
15- Beatriz Recari - 1.86 to 1.05 = Loss of 0.81 (Move 62 - 114)
16- Jennifer Johnson - 1.58 to 0.82 = Loss of 0.76 (Move 71 to 149)
17- Shanshan Feng - 6.84 to 6.12 = Loss of 0.72 (Move 5 - 6)
18- Haeji Kang - 1.34 to 0.63 = Loss of 0.71 (Move 84 to 195)
19- Na-Ri Lee - 1.65 to 1.04 = Loss of 0.61 (Move 68 to 116)
20- Hee Young Park - 2.24 to 1.64 = Loss of 0.60 (Move 49 to 68)

I will revisit this one more time at the end of this season.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Suzann Pettersen Apologizes for Solheim Cup Actions

It was an incredible weekend of women's golf. A huge congratulations goes out to Team USA for winning the 2015 Solheim Cup.

The USA takes back the Solheim Cup

 They did it in spectacular fashion, coming back after being down 10-6 after the first 2 days. It was the biggest comeback in Solheim Cup history.

The victory now gives the USA a 9 to 5 victory advantage in Solheim Team play.

American Alison Lee was also left in tears as the situation at the 14th Solheim Cup got the better of her in Germany
Alison Lee, after the completion of her Sunday morning fourball match.

A picture is worth a thousand words

By now everyone has either seen, heard, or read about the Pettersen - Alison Lee incident. I am sure most have formed their opinions over what took place on the 17th green on Sunday morning. I want to say that I am overjoyed that this incident did not have any effect on the final outcome. As an American, of course I was rooting for my team to pull out the victory, but if it wasn't to be, I was hoping team Europe won by a margin bigger than 1 point.

I have been doing this blog for a number of years now and I try to report interesting statistics about how the LPGA players are performing. Most of the time those statistics are positive, sometimes they are not. I always keep it to the golf and not about the players' personality. For the first time I am going to break that rule.

Golf, it has been said, is a gentlemen's game. It is a sport where the integrity of the game is supposed to be the most important thing. It has been played by such class acts as Arnold Palmer, Nancy Lopez, and Se Ri Pak (just to name a few). I am afraid that Suzann Pettersen will never be thought of in that company. Was Suzann within the rules for doing what she did? Yes she was. Should she have done it? Of course not. It was just another selfish act that has become the norm when following her. Here are just a few examples:

1- A few year's back commissioner Michael Whan announced a tournament (the Founders Cup), that would not have a purse. It was strictly a charitable event. Not everyone showed up to play for free, but most did. Almost all players from the USA, Asia, and Europe teed it up. It was for a good cause. Suzann was among the few who did not attend. It was certainly within her right. She could have quietly stayed away. Instead she was very vocal about not playing for free. The Founders Cup is now one of the biggest events on the LPGA schedule and includes a large purse. Of course Suzann plays it now every year.

2- During the Sybase match play championship, players were asked not to leave if they were eliminated in round one. The LPGA had something going on the next day (I don't remember what). Natalie Gulbis and Suzann were the only players to leave. Natalie's grandparent died. Suzann just took off.

3- It is etiquette in golf that when you putt out, you wait for the player(s) your paired with to finish the hole before moving on. Suzann just takes off and is at the next tee. She did it repeatedly yesterday in her match with Angela Stanford. She has no respect whatsoever for her playing companions.

These are just a few examples. I am sure that some of my readers will have more.

Laura Davies said the following:
“I am disgusted. I know she is angry and justifying everything, but she has let herself down and she has certainly let her team down. I am so glad I am not on that team this time.”

Two-time major champion Zach Johnson tweeted: “What happened on the 17th green is a disgrace to the sport.”

In a way I am glad that this happened Sunday where it could be seen by everyone. People now will see, what myself, other avid fans that follow the game, the press, and the other players on the LPGA already know.

In summing up, I would like to say that the 2015 Solheim Cup was a huge success for women's golf. We all got to see some incredible golf.  It was very exciting TV, and we were on the edge of our seats right to the very end. Julie Inkster should be very proud of what her team accomplished. It will be remembered for a long long time. I will remember for a very long time how players such as Sandra Gal, Melissa Reid, and Caroline Masson lost with class and dignity. I hope that is what my readers will most remember about this tournament also.

UPDATE: The following apology was written by Suzann via social media this morning:

I've never felt more gutted and truly sad about what went down Sunday on the 17th at the Solheim Cup.  I am so sorry for not thinking about the bigger picture in the heat of the battle and competition. I was trying my hardest for my team and put the single match and the point that could be earned ahead of sportsmanship and the game of golf itself! I feel like I let my team down and I am sorry. To the U.S. team, you guys have a great leader in Juli , who I've always looked up to and respect so much. Knowing I need to make things "right," I had a face to face chat with her before leaving Germany this morning to tell her in person how I really feel about all of this. I wanted her also to know that I am sorry. I hope in time the U.S. team will forgive me and know that I have learned a valuable lesson about what is truly important in this great game of golf which has given me so much in my life. To the fans of golf who watched the competition on TV, I am sorry for the way I carried myself. I can be so much better and being an ambassador for this great game means a lot to me. The Solheim Cup has been a huge part of my career. I wish I could change Sunday for many reasons. Unfortunately I can't.  This week I want to push forward toward another opportunity to earn the Solheim Cup back for Europe in the right way. And I want to work hard to earn back your belief in me as someone who plays hard, plays fair and plays the great game of golf the right way.

Hopefully the above statement was heartfelt, and was not posted because of pressure put on her by her sponsors (Nike for one). We are never to old to learn from our mistakes, and hopefully Suzann will learn from hers. Time will tell.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Solheim Cup Preview - United States Gets Revenge?

The LPGA takes a break from its normal tournament schedule for the playing of the 2015 Solheim Cup.

The Solheim Cup is a biennial golf tournament for professional women golfers contested by players from the United States and Europe. It is named after the Norwegian-American golf club manufacturer Karsten Solheim, who was a driving force behind its creation.

The inaugural cup was held in 1990, and the event was staged in even numbered years until 2002, alternating years with the Ryder Cup (the equivalent men's event between the USA & Europe). Because of the attacks of September 11th 2001, forcing the postponement of the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup was switched to odd numbered years in 2003.

Qualifying for Entry:  (USA)
1- A player must finish in the top 8 on the Solheim Cup points list.
2- The top 2 players in the Rolex Rankings that have not already qualified.
3- Two captain's picks.

Points are accumulated the following way:
(From the first event after the previous Solheim Cup match in 2013 through the end of the 2014 season)
Winner - 40 points, 2nd - 20 points, 3rd - 18 points, 4th - 17 points, all the way down to 20th - 2 points.
(The 2015 season tournaments, leading up to the Solheim match)
Winner - 60 points, 2nd - 30 points, 3rd - 28.5 points, 4th - 27 points, 5th - 25.5 points, all the way down to a 20th place finish worth 3 points.
The reason for the increased points for the last part of the term is to give an advantage to the players who are hot going into the match. 
Points are doubled for major championships.

Qualifying for Entry:  (Europe)
1- A player must finish in the top 4 on the LET  Solheim points list.
2- The top 4 players from the Rolex Rankings that have not already qualified.
3- Four captain's picks.

The event is played over three days. Since 2002, they play 28 matches - eight foursomes, eight four balls, and twelve singles matches.

Of the previous 13 matches, the USA has won eight, and Europe has won five. That does not tell the whole story though, as Europe has won the last 2 meetings, including an 18-10 shellacking in 2013.

Team Europe celebrates after their 2013 victory

The captains this year will be Juli Inkster for the United States, and Karen Koch for Europe.
For the Americans, revenge will be the motivating factor. With 11 of the 12 players returning from the 2013 beating they took at the hands of the Europeans, it will not be hard for captain Juli Inkster to use that as a way of motivating her team.

The USA last won the cup in 2009

Here are the key details:

Course:  St. Leon-Rot Golf Club
Location:  St. Leon-Rot, Germany
Defending Champion:  Europe
Winning Score:  18-10

Final Field:  24 players
Par: 72
Yardage:  6,535
Purse:  This one is for pride!

Here are the teams:  (Solheim records in parenthesis)

Team USA:
Stacy Lewis (2-5-1)
Lexi Thompson (1-2-0)
Cristie Kerr (12-14-4)
Michelle Wie (6-5-1)
Brittany Lincicome (5-7-2)
Morgan Pressel (8-5-2)
Angela Stanford (3-11-3)
Gerina Piller (0-2-1)
**Alison Lee (Rookie)
Lizette Salas (0-1-2)
Brittany Lang (5-4-2)
Paula Creamer (12-6-5)
     Totals (54-62-23)

** - Is the only rookie on either team.

Team Europe:
Suzann Pettersen (14-9-6)
Gwladys Nocera (5-3-2)
Charley Hull (2-1-0)
Melissa Reid (1-3-0)
Anna Nordqvist (6-5-0)
Azahara Munoz (4-3-1)
Sandra Gal (0-2-1)
Carlotta Ciganda (3-0-0)
Catriona Matthew (12-9-8)
Karine Icher (3-3-1)
Caroline Masson (2-1-1)
Caroline Hedwall (5-0-0)
     Totals (57-39-20)

Everything here points to a European victory.
1- They come in with 2 consecutive cup victories.
2- They have the home course advantage.
3- The European players have a 59.3 winning %, as compared to the American's 46.6%.

My Prediction:
USA defeats Europe in a nail biter 14 1/2 to 13 1/2.

Other Tidbits:
With her victory at the Evian Masters, Lydia Ko has now won as many tournaments (4) as all of the American players combined in 2015.

Lydia Ko now becomes the youngest player to win a major championship.

Michelle Wie's 16th place finish at the Evian Championship, was  only her third top 20 finish of 2015.

Ai Miyazato is now 0-42 in major championship competition. She also has failed to register a top 10 finish in her last 57 LPGA events.

Rolex Movers of the Week:
 Lexi Thompson surges from #7 to #4. Mi Hyang Lee jumps from #43 to #33, and Ilhee Lee leaps from #50 to #36.

Race to the CME Globe:  (1 million dollars)
Lydia Ko takes over the top spot with 3,893 points, followed by Inbee Park (3,832) and Stacy Lewis (2,773)

Who's Hot:
Lexi Thompson's 2nd place finish at Evian was her 10th top 10 of the year.) Only the big 3 (Lydia, Inbee, Stacy) have more.

How consistent has Inbee Park been this year? She has played in 20 LPGA tournaments, and has 18 top 20 finishes. Stacy Lewis has 17 of 21.

Who's Not:
Paula Creamer, who came into this year never missing the cut twice in a row, has missed her last four.

Jessica Korda has missed the cut in 6 of her last 8 tournaments.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

The Evian Championship Preview & Pairings

After a week off the LPGA is back in action this week with the playing of the Evian Championship.

Hyo Joo Kim will be trying to defend her Evian Championship title 

Hyo Joo Kim will be attempting to defend the title she won last year as a non LPGA player. Hyo Joo birdied the final hole and came out on top by one shot over Karrie Webb, who bogeyed that very same hole.

Inbee Park will be attempting to win her third major championship of the year and 8th of her career. She has already won the KMPG Women's PGA Championship and the Ricoh Women's British Open. Brittany Lincicome (Ana Inspiration) and non LPGA member In Gee Chun (U.S. Women's Open), have each won a major this year.

An Inbee Park win would give her the 2 points she needs to reach the required 27 points needed for the Hall of Fame. A minimum of 10 years played on the LPGA tour is required to be inducted in the LPGA Hall of Fame. Inbee is in her 9th year.

This will be tournament #24 of 31 on the 2015 LPGA schedule. It is also the fifth and final major of the year.

Here are the Key Details:

Course:  Evian Resort Golf Club
Location:  Evian-les-Bains, France
Defending Champion:  Hyo Joo Kim
Winning Score:  61-72-72-68 = 273 (-11)

Final Field: 120 players
Par:  35/36 = 71
Yardage:  6,453
Purse:  $3,250,000

My strength of field rating is a very solid 77%, although I have it ranked as the weakest of the 5 major championships this year. All the big names will be here with the exception of Na Yeon Choi. The lack of field depth (when compared to the other 4 majors) with just 120 players, and the lack of major players from other tours accounts for my lower rating. In Gee Chun (U.S. Open winner) and In Young Ko (2nd place finish at the Ricoh British Open), are the only big name non LPGA members in attendance. Nicole  Broch Larson, who just won Helsingborg Open on the LET Tour, will now be added to the field.

Here are the pairings for the first round:

Here are the television times:
GC   Thurs. Sept.10  5:00 a.m.- 8:00 a.m. ET
GC   Thurs. Sept.10  9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET
GC   Friday Sept.11  5:00 a.m.- 8:00 ap.m. ET
GC   Friday Sept.11  9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET
GC   Sat.     Sept.12  6:30 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. ET
GC   Sun.    Sept.13  8:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. ET
NBC Sun.    Sept.13  12:30 - 2:00 pm. ET

Here are my Pak Picker Picks for this week's tournament:
1- Lexi Thompson
2- Lydia Ko
3- So Yeon Ryu
4- Brooke Henderson
5- Inbee Park
6- Stacy Lewis
7- Hyo Joo Kim
8- Shanshan Feng
9- Suzann Pettersen
10- Ha Na Janh
11- Sei Young Kim
12- Brittany Lincicome
I am currently in first place among the 22 participants.

Be sure to check back here daily for any updates. They will be posted here, at the end of this blog.

Here are the final results:

1Lydia Ko-16F
2Lexi Thompson-10F
3Shanshan Feng-8F
4Ilhee Lee-7F
4Mi Hyang Lee-7F
6Alison Lee-6F
6Lee-Anne Pace-6F
8Inbee Park-5F
8Eun-Hee Ji-5F
8Amy Yang-5F
11Candie Kung-4F
11Sei Young Kim-4F
11Minjee Lee-4F
11Nicole Larsen-4F
11Morgan Pressel-4F
16Stacy Lewis-3F
16In-Kyung Kim-3F
16Michelle Wie-3F
16Jennifer Song-3F

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Rating the 2015 LPGA Rookies - Part 2

It has been almost four months 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 2016 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?

Sei Young Kim is one of four rookies (Hyo Joo Kim, Minjee Lee, Brooke Henderson are the others) to win this year.

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 2015 money list, that will be your priority rating for 2016. 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 2015.

If you finish 101-125 on the 2015 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.

Brooke Henderson will be playing playing full time in 2016

Very Secure:
First let me state that I have been doing this for a number of years, and the most players I have ever put in this category was 4. We have 10 this year. In my opinion 2015 has the deepest rookie crop ever.

1- Sei Young Kim - A winner twice already this year, she leads by a very narrow margin in the rookie of the year race.  She has only missed 2 cuts in 20 tournaments this year. She has 6 top fives, and 9 top tens this year. A mainstay on the LPGA tour for years to come.

2- Hyo Joo Kim - In my opinion the best rookie of 2015. She is already #5 in the world rankings. Currently second in the rookie of the year race, she has played in 2 less tournaments than the current leader. Making 17 of 18 cuts this year, she has 1 win, 4 top fives, and 8 top tens. She has only finished outside the top twenty, 4 times this year. In years to come, her battles with Lexi, Lydia, and Brooke will be classics.

3- Brooke Henderson - Brooke just became a member of the LPGA a couple of weeks ago, and now has rookie status. Like Hyo Joo and Q-Baek last year, she has a full category 7 LPGA card for 2016 based on her victory this year as a non LPGA member. She has played in 12 LPGA events this year, with 1 win and 4 top fives. In just a dozen tournaments, her earnings would place her #14 on the LPGA money list. The only rookie to earn more money per event this year is Sei Young Kim.

4- Minjee Lee - Like the 3 rated above her, Minjee has also won in her rookie year. Currently #3 in the rookie of the year race, she has 1 win, 2 top fives, and 5 top tens to her credit. She has made 17 cuts in 22 tournaments this year.

5- Ha Na Jang - Currently #4 in the rookie of the year race, she has 3 top fives, and 6 top tens to her credit this year. Ha Na has made the cut in 16 of the 18 tournaments she has played in this year. She currently ranks #15 on the money list. Solid in every facet of the game, look for her to be on this tour for a very long time.

6- Alison Lee - How good are this year's rookies? I have Alison #6, and she compares very favorably to 2013 winner Moriya Jutanugarn. Alison has made 15 of 19 cuts this year, with 3 top fives, and five top tens. Currently #5 in rookie of the year points, Alison has done everything this year but win. That will be coming soon.  She is currently #21 on the money list. Lacks the experience of most of the players I ranked ahead of her, so look for her to still have a very big upside.

7- Q-Baek -  We get a bit of a drop off here in comparison to the top six, but Q-Baek's 2016 card is certainly very secure. She is currently #7 in the ROY standings, and #45 on the money list. Her game has been inconsistent, missing 6 cuts, and she has just 1 top ten all year. Many had her in the fight for ROY this year, but that just hasn't materialized. I think there is a better player in there somewhere, look for it to surface if not this year then next..

8- Ariya Jutanugarn - Almost impossible to rate the season she is having. When I did my pre-season forecast I had her in the top 3, and a favorite to win the ROY award. She started the season with 2 top fives, and 5 top twenties, in her first 5 events. Then the roof caved in. She missed 10 consecutive cuts. Has played better the last couple of weeks, but still not up to her high standards. At #31 on the money list, her 2016 card is secure, but based on this year's results her future appears to be clouded.

9- Charley Hull - Charley would be ranked much higher than this if she played more tournaments on the LPGA tour. Splitting her time with the LET tour, she played in just 9 LPGA tournaments this year, and has 2 top tens. She has missed just one cut. Currently #51 on this year's money list, her card for next year is secure.

10- Sakura Yokomine - Like Q-Baek above, Sakura has been inconsistent and somewhat disappointing when compared to expectations. Playing in 19 tournaments this year, she has missed 5 cuts and has just 1 top 10 finish. Her 4 top 20 finishes has earned her enough money to easily retain her card for 2016.  She will be 30 years old at the start of next season, so her career trajectory bears watching.

Looking Very Good:
1- Wei-Ling Hsu - Her fortunes sure took a leap into this category this past week, when she finished 8th at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic. It was the first top ten in her career in 21 starts this year. Wei-Ling does have the unusual knack of making cuts (18 of 21), without coming close to contending. In fact, last week's finish was her only top 20. Still, making cuts is a real key in retaining your card, and she is currently #55 on the money list.

2- Min Lee - Min has teed it up 19 times this year, making 14 cuts. She does not have a top ten finish, but does have 2 top twenties. Her best finish came at the U.S. Open where she finished tied for 12th. Currently 62nd on the money list, we will be seeing her next year.

3- Kelly Shon - Kelly had a 3rd place finish earlier in the year at the Manulife Classic, and that alone has saved her year. With just one other top 20 finish in her 19 starts, she still ranks #74 on the money list. Kelly will make it to 2016, but will need to play much more consistent to keep moving on.

On the borderline:
1- Sadeena Parks -  After missing the cut in 10 of her first 11 tournaments this year, she has turned it around with 5 made cuts in her last 7 starts. She has seen the weekend in her last 4 starts, including a 29th place finish this past week. Currently #97 on the money list she needs to stay in the top 100.

2- Soo Bin Kim - Her 13th place finish in Portland a couple of weeks ago has given her a shot at retaining her card. It was her only top 20 finish in 13 starts this year. She has made 7 of 13 cuts, and is currently in the precarious #100 spot on the money list.

3- Laetitia Beck - The first LPGA member ever from Israel has made 8 of 14 cuts this year. The high point of her season came at the Manulife Classic when she finished in 19th place. Unfortunately, she currently ranks #110 on this year's money list, which is a position where she would not lose her card but not get into many events. Last year's #110 place finisher, Rebecca Lee Bentham, wound up with a Priority rating of #157 and teed it up just 10 times this year. Laetitia could decide to go back to Q-school to improve her position for 2016.

4- Jing Yan -  It has been a strange year for this young rookie. She made her first 5 cuts of the year (including an 11th place finish at Kingsmill), but then missed the next 6. She rebounded this past week with a 20th place finish. She has made 6 of 12 cuts this year, and currently ranks #111 on the money list. Like Laetitia above, she has a Q-school decision to make.

5- Casey Grice - Because of a poor priority ranking she has gotten into just one tournament, and missed the cut there. Why is she in this category you ask? Because she is currently #8 on the Symetra Tour money list, and if she finishes in the top 10 on that tour, she will have full time playing privileges next year.  There are still 6 events left this year on the Symetra Tour, so she will have to play well to keep her current position.

Not Looking Good:
1Cheyenne Woods - A winner already on the LET, and that famous name, probably led us all to unrealistic expectations. Cheyenne only managed to make 7 cuts in 16 tournaments, with a 24th place finish her best of the year. Currently #124 on the money list, even if she kept that position she would only get into a few events next year. I would think she will choose to try it again at Q-school later on this year.

2- Stephanie Meadow: Stephanie started the season well when she had a top 20 finish in her first event. Things did not go well after that. She missed some time with the passing of her father, and when she returned she did not make another cut, missing her last 10. Currently #131 on the money list, this talented young lady will probably be next teeing it up in Q-school

3- Simin Feng - Although she made 7 cuts this year (out of 18 played), she somehow managed to not finish better than 59th in any of them. Currently #135 on the money list, she will probably be teeing it up at Q-School.

Looking Dismal:
The following players just did not cut it in the big time this year. The only chance you will get to see them in 2016 is if they return to Q-school and are successful there.

1- Marissa Steen - She was the 2014 Symetra Tour Money leader, but didn't fare well as an LPGA rookie. Making just 4 of 17 cuts, she is #138 on the money list.

2- Ju Young Park - Probably the biggest disappointment on this entire list when compared to expectations. Ju Young (the younger sister of Hee Young Park), never made any kind of impact on the tour whatsoever. The opportunities were there. Playing in 13 events she only managed to make 3 cuts, with a best finish of T27. Currently #139 on this year's money list, it's off to Q-school if she wants to continue her career here.

3- Sophie Popov- Making just 4 of 10 cuts with a best finish of 41st, she is #140 on the money list.

4- Therese Koelbaek - Made 3 cuts in 16 events, she is #142 on the money list.

5- Elizabeth Nagel - Made 2 cuts in 4 attempts, with a high finish of T55. Currently #143.

6- Jeong Eun Lee - A poor performance in Q-school last year led to a very high priority rating. As a result she only played in 2 LPGA tournaments and made the cut in both, with a best finish of T33. Hopefully she will fare better in Q-school this year as she did show some potential.

7- Demi Runus - Plenty of starts (18), just poor play. Making just 4 cuts she sits at #147.

8- Kendall Dye - After 6 years on the Symetra Tour, Kendall finally made it to the LPGA. She did get into 17 events, but made just 4 cuts. Currently #149 on the money list, we will have to wait and see if at 28 years of age, she will want  to return to Q-school.

9- Julie Yang - Made her first cut of the year, and then never made another. Julie missed the cut in the last 10 tournaments she played in. Currently #155 on money list.

10- Emma De Groot - Playing in just two tournaments and making 1 cut (T69), she is currently #167. Has played most of year on the Symetra Tour but doesn't rank very high there.

11- Celine Herbin & Marta Sanz Barrio - Played in 2 & 4 events respectively, with no money earned.

Other Tidbits:
Cheyenne Woods has a received a sponsor exemption for the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia tournament in October.

Yes, Kris Tamulis does lead the Solheim Cup standings for the 2017 event.

The Manulife LPGA Classic has announced that next year's tournament will be held September 1 - September 4. With the Canadian Pacific open being played in Calgary the week before, it will be back to back tournaments in Canada.

Rolex Movers of the Week:
Kris Tamulis is the big mover this week soaring from #125 to #71. Austin Ernst leaps from # 51 to #44, while Yani Tseng rebounds 14 spots to #61. Sydnee Michaels jumps into the top 100 for the first time moving from #116 to #100, and Jaye Marie Green continues her 5 week surge moving up 7 more spots to #94.

Race to the CME Globe: (1 million dollars)
Inbee Park is still leading with 3,726 points. She is followed by Lydia Ko (3,268) and Stacy Lewis (2,704).

Who's Hot:
Lexi Thompson has 1 win, 3 top tens, and 5 top twenties, in her last 5 starts.

Who's Not:
Kristy McPherson has missed 15 consecutive cuts. Ai Miyazato has missed her last 5 cuts, and the former #1 has now fallen all the way down to #172 in the Rolex Rankings.

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