Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Year 2015 - Final

As we wait for the 2016 season to begin (we are about a month away), it gives me a little time to look back at the players that made the biggest moves in the Rolex Rankings in 2015.

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 was the biggest mover of 2015

The Year's Biggest Gainers:

1- Brooke Henderson - 0.51 to 4.08 = Gain of 3.57 (moved from #223 to #17)
2- Sei Young Kim - 2.46 to 5.84 = Gain of 3.38 (move 39 -7)
3- Alison Lee - 0.09 to 3.26 = Gain of 3.17 (move 482-23)
4- Minjee Lee - 1.45 to 4.08 = Gain of 2.63 (move 78-18)
5- Sung Hyun Park - 0.67 to 2.95 = Gain of 2.28 (move 169-27)
6- Lydia Ko - 9.66 to 11.78 = Gain of 2.12 (move 2-1)
7- Amy Yang - 3.32 to 5.38 = Gain of 2.06 (move 23-8)
8- In Gee Chun - 3.49 to 5.31 = Gain of 1.82 (move 19-10)
9- Lexi Thompson - 5.31 to 7.07 = Gain of 1.76 (move 10-4)
10- Bo-Mee Lee - 2.60 to 4.27 = Gain of 1.67 (move 36-15)
11- Candie Kung - 0.76 to 2.04 = Gain of 1.28 (move 154-50)
12- Ha Na Jang - 3.41 to 4.57 = Gain of 1.16 (move 21 to 14)
13- Nicole Larson - 0.41 to 1.53 = Gain of 1.12 (move 249-73)
14- Teresa Lu - 2.70 to 3.75 = Gain of 1.05 (move 33-20)
15- Morgan Pressel - 2.16 to 3.19 = Gain of 1.03 (move 52-24)
16- Yani Tseng - 1.36 to 2.37 = Gain of 1.01 (move 83-38)
17- Mika Miyazato - 1.37 to 2.37 = gain of 1.00 (move 82-37)
18- Ji-Hee Lee - 1.10 to 2.09 = Gain of 0.99 (move 104-48)
19- Inbee Park - 10.61 to 11.54 = Gain of 0.93 (move 1-2)
20- Cristie Kerr - 4.21 to 5.13 = Gain of 0.92 (move 13-11)

Michelle Wie took the biggest tumble in 2015

The Year's Biggest Decliners:
1- Michelle Wie - 6.30 to 2.88 = Loss of 3.42 (moved from #6 to #28)
2- Q-Baek - 4.90 to 2.02 = Loss of 2.88 (move 11-52)
3- Karrie Webb - 5.56 to 2.79 = Loss 2.77 (move 9-31)
4- Suzann Pettersen - 6.85 to 4.95 = Loss of 1.90 (move 4-12)
5- Paula Creamer - 3.47 to 1.89 = Loss of 1.58 (move 20-62)
6- Stacy Lewis - 9.55 to 8.04 = Loss of 1.51 (move 3-3)
7- Se Ri Pak - 1.95 to 0.48 = Loss of 1.47 (move 59-228)
8- Azahara Munoz - 4.11 to 2.83 = Loss of 1.28 (move 14-30)
9- Meena Lee - 2.16 to 0.93 = Loss of 1.23 (move 51-134)
10- Angela Stanford - 3.37 to 2.19 = Loss of 1.18 )move 22-45)
11- Caroline Hedwall - 2.03 to 0.87 = Loss of 1.16 (move 55-141)
12- Catriona Matthew - 2.83 to 1.70 = Loss of 1.13 (move 28-67)
13- Yoon-Kyung Heo - 2.71-1.62 = Loss of 1.09 (move 32-69)
14- Beatriz Recari - 1.86 to 0.85 = Loss of 1.01 (move 62-143)
15- Jodi Ewart Shadoff - 1.53 to 0.55 = Loss of 0.98 (move 74-206)
16- Lizette Salas - 3.20 to 2.30 = Loss of 0.90 (move 25-39)
17- Haeji Kang - 1.34 to 0.48 = Loss of 0.86 (move 84-229)
18- Shanshan Feng - 6.84 to 5.99 = Loss of 0.85 (move 5-6)
19- Mo Martin - 2.70 to 1.92 = Loss of 0.82 (move 34-56)
20- Hee Young Park - 2.24 to 1.50 = Loss of 0.74 (move 49-75)

I would like to finish off here by wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year. Let's play lots of golf, and keep supporting the great ladies of the LPGA and the other women's tours.

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

How Well Were My Pre-Season Questions Answered?

Way back in January, before the 2015 LPGA season began, I listed 10 questions that I was looking forward to getting the answers to.

Below I have shown those questions again. Let's see how well they were answered.

10- Can Sakura Yokomine (2015 LPGA rookie) break the terrible slump that Japanese players have been in for the past couple of years?

It was a better year for Japan in 2015 mainly because Mika Miyazato rebounded and put together a much better season than the year before. Yokomine did not dazzle us like many of the other 2015 rookies, as she had just 2 top ten finishes all year.

9- Will Azahara Munoz, one of the most consistent players on tour, break through and get her first stroke play victory? (She won the Sybase Championship which was a match play event).

She did not get that first stroke play victory. She missed part of the season when she had hand surgery, and never quite got back on track after that. She did get married last week, and needs a great start to the season if the Spanish team is going to qualify for the International Crown.

8- Can Hyo Joo Kim (ranked #7 in the world) and Kyu Jung Baek (ranked #11), have the same kind of success on the LPGA Tour that they had on the KLPGA?

In Hyo Joo's case the answer was yes. A victory and 9 top ten finishes proves that. That was not the case for Q-Baek, who had only one top 10 finish all year.

7- Will one or more of the following players: Pornanong Phatlum, Chella Choi, Carlotta Ciganda, or Gerina Piller, finally break through and get that highly anticipated first victory?

It was only one. Chella Choi was the only one of the bunch to get her maiden victory. 

Chella Choi won her first LPGA Trophy with a win at the Marathon Classic

6- Is this the year that former #1 player Yani Tseng (now #83) starts climbing back in the right direction?

It was indeed! Yani moved all the way up to # 21 on the money list. Still not the Yani of old, we may never see that player again, but a big comeback season.

5- With youngsters Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson winning their first Major Championships in 2014, is it Lydia Ko's turn to do it in 2015?

It certainly was! Lydia won the first of what should be many major championships, when she won the Evian Championship.

4- Can the U.S., coming off major disappointments in the last two Solheim Cup competitions, bounce back and bring the trophy back to America?

In the most amazing comeback in Solheim Cup history, the United States came back from a 10-6 deficit to bring the cup back home. 

The 2015 winning Solheim Cup Team

3- Can Stacy Lewis return to the #1 position in the world for the third time, or will Lydia Ko take Inbee Park's spot on top of the Rolex Rankings?

It didn't happen. In fact, Stacy did not register a win in 2015, in spite of having 6 second place finishes. She currently sits at #3 in the world.

2- With Michelle Wie coming off the best season of her career, is she ready to join the big three (Inbee, Stacy, Lydia) and make it the big four?

A resounding No. In an injury plagued season, Michelle didn't register a single top 10 finish, and fell all the way down to #27 in the Rolex Rankings.

1- Is it even possible for the LPGA to match or better the success it had in 2014?

Considering how great the 2014 season was, I guess it is a matter of opinion if 2015 exceeded it. The two seasons were certainly very comparable. The fact remains that the LPGA is growing bigger and better every year. The 2016 season will bring us a record number of events (34 including the International Crown), a record total purse (they will be playing for over 63 million dollars), and a record number of television hours (410 plus). 

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Monday, December 21, 2015

International Crown Update (What happened to Spain?)

With the 2016 LPGA season just one month away, I think this is a good time to look at one of the most anticipated events of the upcoming season: The International Crown.

Chicago's Merit Club will host the 2016 UL International Crown

Before the International Crown was announced in January of 2013,the only competition between countries that the LPGA had on its schedule was the Solheim Cup. A competition between the United States and Europe. As a resident of the United States, it was my favorite tournament of the year. At the tournament's completion, it always made me sad that we had to wait two more years before it would be played again. But in truth, I was lucky that at least I got to see my country play. That could not be said for fans of players from South Korea, Japan, Australia, Thailand, and many other countries whose players could not compete.

With the announcement of the International Crown, all that has changed. Every country would now have a chance to compete. The tournament is played on even numbered years, while the Solheim cup will continue to be played on odd numbered years.

The final field of eight countries will be determined by the combined Rolex World Ranking of the top four players from each country as of the Rolex World Rankings published at the conclusion of the 2016 ANA Inspiration. (Countries must have a minimum of four ranked players to be eligible.)

The four players who will compete for each pre-qualified country will then be determined at the conclusion of the KMPG Women's PGA Championship in June. The highest ranked players from each of the eight countries as of the Rolex World Rankings on Monday June 13, 2016, will compete to see who will be crowed the best golf nation in the world.

Spain is the defending Champion, having won this event in 2014.

Defending Champion Spain would not qualify as of today!

Now it's time to take a look at the standings as they are today. Which countries would qualify as of right now. Here is a listing of the top eight countries with their top players' Rolex Ranking in parenthesis:

1- South Korea -22 
Inbee Park - (2)
So Yeon Ryu - (5)
Sei Young Kim - (7)
Amy Yang - (8)

On the outside:
Hyo-Joo Kim - (9)
In Gee Chun - (10)
Ha Na Jang - (14)
Bo-Mee Lee - (15)

With 8 of the top 15 players in the world, this is going to be a dogfight to the very end to see which 4 players will qualify.

2- United States - 34
Stacy Lewis - (3)
Lexi Thompson - (4)
Cristie Kerr - (11)
Brittany Lincicome - (16)

On the outside:
Alison Lee - (23)
Morgan Pressel - (24)
Jessica Korda - (25)
Michelle Wie - (27)

It would certainly appear that Stacy & Lexi are in. It should be a fight for the remaining 2 spots.

3- Japan - 187
Shiho Oyama - (36)
Mika Miyazato - (37)
Momoko Ueda - (55)
Ayaka Watanabe - (59)

4- Chinese Taipei - 219
Teresa Lu - (20)
Yani Tseng - (38)
Candie Kung - (52)
Ssu-Chia Cheng - (109)

5- Sweden - 352
Anna Nordqvist - (13)
Pernilla Lindberg - (87)
Maria Mcbride - (112)
Caroline Hedwall - (140)

6- England - 368
Charley Hull - (41)
Melissa Reid - (83)
Holly Clyburn - (92)
Hannah Burke - (152)

7- Thailand - 372
Pornanong Phatlum - (43)
Ariya Jutanugarn - (63)
Moriya Jutanugarn - (107)
Thidapa Suwannapura (159)

8- Australia - 383
Minjee Lee - (17)
Karrie Webb - (31)
Rebecca Artis - (135)
Sarah Jane Smith - (200)

The above 8 countries would qualify for the International Crown as of today.

On the outside:

9 -China - 428
Shanshan Feng - (6)
Xiyu Lin - (53)
Jing Yan - (139)
Yan- Hong Pan - (230)

10- Spain - 433
Azahara Munoz - (29)
Carlota Ciganda - (51)
Beatriz Recari - (143)
Belen Mozo - (214)

It would appear that the top 4 countries are in. The real battle is going to be between the countries that currently hold positions 5 through 10. They will be fighting for the final 4 spots.

I will continue to keep everyone updated as we get closer to the above deadlines.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Surprises & Disappointments - Final 2015

With the 2015 season in the books, I would like to look back at the players that I thought gave us the most surprising seasons, and those who disappointed. This is based purely on my expectations of these players coming into the 2015 season. You won't see names like Inbee Park or Lydia Ko on here, as we certainly expected them to have big years. You won't see names like Hyo Joo Kim or Minjee Lee here because we knew they were going to have big rookie seasons. Some of these players aren't household names, but had unexpected results this season.

Biggest Surprises:

Nobody predicted Sei Young Kim would be a 3 time winner.

1- Sei Young Kim - We knew that this year's rookies were going to be among the best ever. Many people wrote in their choices for Rolex Rookie of the Year, but this lady was hardly even mentioned. All she did was win 3 times, have 8 top 5 finishes, and 13 top tens.

Brooke Henderson
2- Brooke Henderson - Did not become  an official LPGA member until she won in Portland in August, but it was a dream 2015 season nonetheless. Teeing it up just 14 times, she had that victory in Portland, 4 top fives, and 11 top twenty-five finishes. Her earnings would have placed her #18 on the money list. Makes you wonder what she can do in a full season. We will find out soon enough.

3- Alison Lee - When the season started American fans were hopeful that they may have a new star. She did not disappoint. In fact, she exceeded our expectations with three top 5 finishes, 6 top tens, and 11 top twenties.

4- Yani Tseng - Maybe we wrote her off a bit too quickly. It was a big comeback season for Yani who registered four top 5 finishes. Still not the Yani of old, but she jumped from #57 to #21 on the money list.
Alena Sharp 

5- Alena Sharp - This veteran deserves to be acknowledged for her 2015 season. A real fighter, over the years she has had to battle her way back onto the LPGA through Q-School, and again through the Symetra Tour. With the influx of all these "super teenage rookies," many veterans are finding surviving on the LPGA Tour getting tougher and tougher each year. Alena has showed us that she's tough too. Finishing #65 on the money list shows she still has something left in the tank.

6- Jaye Marie Green - After a very disappointing rookie season in which she barely retained her LPGA membership, it was a big bounce back year in 2015. Jaye really found it in the last third of the season when she had 3 top tens, and 5 top twenties in her last 9 starts.

7- Xi Yu Lin - Another player who barely held on to their card in 2014. This year was another story. With 4 top tens and 9 top twenties, she improved from # 93 to #38 in 2015.

Biggest Disappointments:

1- Michelle Wie - What a difference a year makes. Last year she was my biggest surprise. There are going to be some that will point to her injuries, and yes she did have enough of them. But the fact remains that she did play in 24 tournaments without registering a single top ten. She was only able to hit 61% of her fairways, which ranked #136 on the LPGA Tour. Wie, normally one of the real monster drivers on tour, finished 26th in driving distance. That tells us she is either sacrificing distance by not using her driver, or she is hitting lots of trees.

2- Beatriz Recari - The fall here has been very far and very fast. Two years ago she finished # 8 on the money list. Last year she fell to #53, and this year to #75. She had just one top ten all year. She is going to have to pick it up quickly, or the defending champion Spanish Team will not qualify for the 2016 International Crown. They currently rank 9th (eight teams qualify).

Beatriz must improve quickly if she wants a chance to defend the International Crown title

3- Meena Lee - After a solid 2014 campaign where she finished #26 on the money list, she dropped all the way down to #93 this year. She managed just three top 30 finishes all season.

4- Julieta Granada - After her most solid LPGA season in 2014 when she finished #18 on the money list, many expected a solid follow up. What they didn't expect was a 17 week drought without a top ten, and a 51st place finish on this year's money list.

5- M.J. Hur - M.J. really came into her own the second half of 2014, leading us to believe this was going to be a stellar year. What happened in 2015 is hard to explain. Not only did she fall from #30 to #72 on the money list, but she failed to register a single top ten finish.

6- Caroline Hedwall - Her career has been a very puzzling one so far. Once considered a future star, her stock has dropped significantly in the past couple of years. She finished #14 on the money list in 2013, 46th in 2014, and fell all the way to #93 this year. She did not have a top 20 finish in any of her 18 LPGA starts.

7- Christina Kim -  The comeback player of the year in 2014, Christina gave it all back in 2015. She managed just 2 top 20 finishes in 28 starts, and fell from #27 to #69 on the money list.

8- Jodi Ewart Shadoff - Once considered an up and coming star, Jodi had to fight to keep her card this year. Finishing in the top 25 on the money list just 2 years ago, she fell all the way to #98 this year. In 21 starts, she failed to register a single top 20 finish.

9- Moriya Jutanugarn - Moriya was the Rookie of the Year just 2 years ago. She has struggled with her game since. She finished the 2015 season #64 on the money list, but things got worse as the season progressed. She did not have a top 20 finish in her last 17 starts.

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Friday, December 11, 2015

Looking Back At My 2015 Predictions. Did I Get It Right?

The 2015 LPGA season was full of surprises:

  • There were 17 different winners
  • There were winners from 7 different countries
  • Two winners were non LPGA members
  • Four players won for the first time
  • Four rookies were winners (including Brooke Henderson who became a rookie after her victory)
  • Rookies accounted for 6 victories
It was a year that was almost impossible to predict, but I did give it a try.

Way back in January, before the season began, I made my predictions of who I thought would be the top players of 2015. I put it out there for the whole world to see. Let's see how I did.

1- Stacy Lewis - Stacy was coming off her best season as an LPGA member. I thought she would follow it up with another multiple win year. It didn't happen. There were six 2nd place finishes, but she never did find the winner's circle. Not a bad pick though as she did finish #3 on the year's money list.

2- Lydia Ko -  I knew when I picked her here that she would have a chance to take Stacy's crown. She did with a very dominant year. She not only finished #1 on the money list, but won 5 times, and took both the Player of the Year Award, and the Race to the CME Globe. 

Lydia may have changed her look, but her game keeps getting better.

3- Inbee Park - Inbee had a spectacular year. She not only won five times, but two of them were major championships (one more than Lydia Ko). Many people thought she should be player of the year, but it wasn't to be. She finished 2nd on the money list, 2nd for POY, and 2nd in the Race for the CME Globe. She made my pick look good.

4- Michelle Wie - I was doing real good until this pick. How could anyone predict her injury filled year would not include a single top ten? She finished #49 on the money list. 

5- Chella Choi - After finishing #16 on the 2014 money list, I was looking for a breakout season and her first victory. I got the victory, but she actually fell down to #20 on the money list. It was an inconsistent season to say the least. 

6- Suzann Pettersen - It was an up and down year for Suzann, which did include a victory. She struggled at times with a back injury and never really got on a roll. Her finish at #14 on the money list wasn't that bad, but I believe we will remember her for the Solheim Cup rather than any other achievements in 2015. 

The always consistent So Yeon Ryu

7- So Yeon Ryu - Although she did not win, she seemed to always be in the mix. Getting a reputation as a player who gets lots of top tens, but can't finish. Still, many players would certainly take her #8 finish on the money list which made my pick look great. 

8- Shanshan Feng - I'm still on a roll. Although she didn't win a tournament, her consistent play landed her #9 on the money list. 

9- Hyo Joo Kim -  Many people thought I was picking her way too high as she was just a rookie. I was slightly high, but she sure didn't disappoint. A year which did include a victory, landed her #13 on the money list. 
Can Lexi become the #1 American player in the world this coming season?

10- Lexi Thompson -  After a mediocre start, Lexi was as good as anyone the last dozen tournaments of the year. Winning twice, and numerous other top 10 finishes, vaulted her to #5 on the money list. Is she ready to join the big three in the world rankings? You will have to wait for my 2016 predictions for that answer. 

11- Azahara Munoz - I was off on this one but have a real good excuse. She had hand surgery earlier in the year which caused her to miss part of the season. When she returned it took some time for her to regain her sharpness. That said, she still finished at #32.

12- Jessica Korda - She seemed invisible until she won the Sime Darby LPGA Classic in Malaysia. Didn't do much after that either. Still only 22 years old, you have to figure her best days are still ahead of her. She finished at #27.

13- Pornanong Phatlum - After a breakout year in 2014 (#26 on ML) I was looking for her to make big strides this year. I was wrong. She finished the year at #38.

14- Mirim Lee - In 2014 she won twice in her rookie year, and finished #11 on the money list. I predicted she would fall some in her sophomore year. I was correct as she finished #19.

15- Brittany Lincicome -  She played well in 2014 as shown by her #19 finish. I thought she could still do better. She did just that with her #12 finish.

16- Julieta Granada - OK. I am entitled to miss one every once in awhile. Not sure what happened here. A hugely disappointing season saw her fall all the way to #51.

17- Minjee Lee - I have to pat myself on the back for this one, as this super-rookie not only had a victory in 2015, but finished #16 on the money list. She will get even better.

18- Anna Nordqvist - A very solid season that included a victory at the ShopRite Classic. She has become one of the most consistent players on tour, and as a result finished #10 on the money list.

19- Na Yeon Choi - She came into this year as a player that always ranked among the leaders in top ten finishes, but should have won many more times than she had. She reversed that this past season as she won twice, but was only able to finish #17 on the year's money list.

The Pink Panther will we celebrating her 1st anniversary this month

20- Paula Creamer - No longer among the elite players on the LPGA tour, Paula fell all the way down to #47 on this year's money list. She got married last December and has never seemed happier. Still, it's difficult to watch a superstar on the decline. Or maybe I'm counting her out too quickly.

21- Karrie Webb - Every year I have been predicting her decline and she has proven me wrong. This year she fell very far, very fast. Last year's #8 is now this year's #43.

22- Cristie Kerr - What a bounce back year it was for Cristie! Did anyone expect 2 wins? Now in the driver's seat for both the International Crown and the upcoming Olympic Games, she finished the year #7 on the money list.

23- Angela Stanford - She put herself in contention on Sunday a number of times this year, but she was never able to seal the deal. No longer appearing to be able to contend on a regular basis, Angela finished #34 this year.

24- Jenny Shin - A solid, if not spectacular player, Jenny finished at #26. At just 23 years old, her best days may still be ahead of her.

25- Q-Baek - Her name got lost this year amongst all the great rookies. I expected more, and I believe most everyone else did also. Finishing #57 on the money list was a disappointment.

26- Charley Hull - Her season was far better than her statistics might show. She played in only 14 tournaments, so her # 48 ranking was a positive. She promises to play regularly this coming year, so look for a big jump.

27-  M.J. Hur - Maybe the most disappointing performance of any of my picks. She finished #24 last year, leading me to believe we would see more of that player. Finishing #72 was not what anyone would have expected.

28- Ilhee Lee - Had a very solid 2014 season when she finished #37 on the money list. I felt that she could do even better this year, and she didn't disappoint. Ilhee came in at #24.

29- Lee-Anne Pace - Le-Anne took a step backwards last year as she dropped all the way down to #46 on the 2015 money list.

30- Kim Kaufman - I got criticized by many for this pick. Kim surprised us all in 2014 when she finished #52 in her rookie season. I said it was not a fluke and she would improve this year. In spite of the fact that 8 rookies finished ahead of her (did I say what a great rookie crop we had?), she still managed to move up and finish in the #45 spot. She finished very strong, and I predict she will win very soon.

The sophomore jinx did not apply to Kim, as she moved up the LPGA money list. 

There you have it. I have had better years, but I think I didn't embarrass myself either.

I will be posting my top 30 picks for the 2016 seasons, in a few weeks. 

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Stacy Lewis Gets Engaged!

This comes as a surprise as they kept their relationship quiet, but Stacy Lewis and Houston's Gerrod Chadwell are engaged.

Gerrod Chadwell (left) and Stacy Lewis

Lewis said yes to Chadwell on the grounds of her beloved Arkansas. It was game day for the Razorbacks, and Chadwell had convinced Lewis to give him a campus tour. It was a dreary, rainy day, and Chadwell wasn't sure that he could get Stacy to get out of the truck, let alone go hunt for her name on the university’s senior walk. Soaked from the pouring rain and huddled under an umbrella, Chadwell popped the question.

“There are no surprises with her,” said Chadwell, who knew better than to propose to the introverted Lewis on the Jumbotron at Razorback Stadium or, worse yet, on the field.

They met around Christmas a year ago.

Lewis, an 11 time winner on the LPGA that includes 2 major championships, had a frustrating time in 2015 finishing in 2nd place 6 times without posting a victory.

 “Honestly, I think he helped me get through it all,” said Lewis of so many heart-breaking losses in 2015. “Just having something good in my life when I came off the golf course every day."

Chadwell started the women's golf program at Houston in 2013. He says he knows enough about the golf game "to be dangerous" but is wise enough not to state his opinion unless asked.

"He knew what to say and what not to say," said Lewis.

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Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Dream Come True for New LPGA Members

They played 90 holes over a grueling 5 day period, but it all ended Sunday with 20 players earning their category 12 playing cards. Simin Feng led wire to wire to claim medalist honors.

“I’m very excited,” Feng said with a smile. “Last year I had a really bad final day to finish sixth in Q-School but this year I got it done with a win. I’m looking for better things to happen for me.”

Twenty-nine additional players will get a category 17 (limited) playing card, but make no mistake about it, this was all about finishing in the top 20. Three players tied for the last spot and had to go to a 3 hole playoff to determine which 2 players would get full time status. Unfortunately for Christine Song, she was the player eliminated and fell to a category 17 card. 

There were 157 players who teed it up on Wednesday and the field was cut to 70 and ties after 72 holes. All players that completed 72 holes did receive Symetra Tour membership in Category D.

For the top 20 players it was a dream come true as many of them were receiving their cards for the very first time. It was a particularly good showing by the U.S. who had eight players finish in the top 20. Thailand was next with four. South Korea, who sent so many great players to the LPGA last year, did not have a single rookie finish among the 49 players receiving cards. Julie Yang, who receives her card for the second time, was that country's only player to survive. In Gee Chun, who won the U.S. Women's Open this year as a non LPGA player, did not have to go to Q-School and will be the heavy favorite for rookie honors in 2016. 

Annie Park (of the U.S.), who received LPGA membership when she finished first on that tour's money list this year, also figures to be among the best 2016 rookies. Annie played in just 10 tournaments and won 3 of them. Is the top 

Megan Khang was the top amateur in the 2015 U.S. Open
All in all, 22 players from the U.S, and 8 players from Thailand would go on to receive LPGA membership.

This was a dream come true for twenty players. Here is a list of the 20 players who received category 12 playing cards for 2016:

1    Simin Feng                            65-70-69-69-69 - 342 (-18)

2    Grace Na                               70-69-69-72-69 - 349 (-11)
     Budsabakorn Sukapan           68-73-67-71-70 - 349 (-11)

4    Cyna Rodriguez                    71-71-70-67-71 - 350 (-10)
      Maude-Aimee LeBlanc          71-67-72-69-71 - 350 (-10)
 6    Megan Khang                       69-72-68-70-72 - 351 (-9)
      Cydney Clanton                     67-70-69-72-73 - 351 (-9)

8    Ashlan Ramsey                     70-71-69-75-67 - 352 (-8)
      Laetitia Beck                          71-70-70-70-71 - 352 (-8)

10   Nontaya Srisawang              71-73-69-67-73 - 353 (-7)
      Gaby Lopez (a)                     68-72-70-70-73 - 353 (-7)
      Julie Yang                             66-69-72-71-75 - 353 (-7)

13   Cheyenne Woods                71-69-72-73-69 - 354 (-6)
       Sandra Changkija                71-71-68-71-73 - 354 (-6)

15  Holly Clyburn                        72-70-73-71-69 - 355 (-5)
      Bertine Strauss                     69-73-72-70-71 - 355 (-5)
      Lindy Duncan                       70-72-71-71-71 - 355 (-5)
      Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras   70-73-71-69-72 - 355 (-5)

19  Benyapa Niphatsophon        69-70-75-73-69 - 356 (-4)
      Jing Yan                               70-72-72-67-75 - 356 (-4)

Of the 20 players that earned full cards, five are teenagers including Pannarat Thanapolbooyaras, the youngest player in the field at 17. She will turn 18 on December 29. The other four teenagers that earned cards are Budsabakorn Sukapan (T2, 18), Megan Khang (T6, 18), Jing Yan (T19, 19) and Benyapa Niphatsophon (T19, 18). 

Cheyenne Woods (Phoenix, Ariz.) earned her LPGA Tour Card for the second consecutive season thanks to a final round 69. "It’s such a grind out here every single shot every day,” Woods admitted. “To be done with the week feels great. My season is officially over now and it feels great to have a round like this to finish off the year. I feel great with how I played today and I feel like I gave it my all.”

Woods, who finished T13 for the week, now has another shot at competing on the LPGA Tour after an up-and-down rookie season.

“I wasn’t happy with how I played this year so I love to have the opportunity this next year to improve and get better with every tournament,” Woods said. “I didn’t want to give my card away. I wanted to get that thing back this year so it feels good to have played well this week.”

Megan Khang (Rockland, Mass.) turned professional last week in advance of the final stage of LPGA Qualifying School and was able to earn her 2016 LPGA Tour card by finishing T6 at 9-under.

“Great decision on that,” Khang said with a smile following her round. “I’m still letting it sink in. I haven’t really thought about it. I’m still thinking about my back nine but it doesn’t matter. I made the top-20 and that was my goal heading into this week so while I’m disappointed I’m excited for next year to start.”

Khang, who was the low amateur at this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, wrapped up her spot in the top-20 with a final round 72.

Ashlan Ramsey (Milledgeville, Ga.) had the low round of the day, a 5-under 67, to climb into the top-10 and earn her LPGA Tour card for 2016.

“It’s a whole crazy range of emotions right now,” Ramsey said. “I played really well this week. I worked really hard coming into this week and it was such a grind mentally and physically. I’m exhausted right now but I’m so happy to have come here and accomplished my goal.”

Following her last putt on the 18th, Ramsey was greeted by her parents, boyfriend and the family dog who drove down to surprise her.

“It’s crazy. I don’t even have words for it. I had no idea that they were coming. I’m just thankful that they’re here to share this experience with me.”

Credit also goes to Ramsey’s caddie, Mark, who worked LPGA Qualifying Tournament for Alison Lee in 2014. 

As I stated above, twenty-nine additional players received category 17 playing cards. These players will be playing mostly on the Symetra tour in 2016. They are players that finished 21st through 45 (and ties). Last year's 21st place finisher wound up #172 on the 2015 Priority List. Since most full field events have 144 players, it is very unlikely that they will be playing in many (if any) LPGA events in 2016. Last year Charley Hull was the only category 17 player to retain her card for the 2016 season, as a result of her play. She did so by taking advantage of her limited opportunities, and then getting reshuffled into a better position on the priority list. The LPGA has 2 reshuffles during the year for categories 16 through 21.

Here is a list of players that received limited category 17 LPGA membership:

 21  Christine Song                      65-71-73-71-76 - 356 (-4)

22   Wichanee Meechai              71-73-70-74-69 - 357 (-3)
      Ally McDonald                       74-70-70-73-70 - 357 (-3)
      Stephanie Kono                    73-74-71-68-71 - 357 (-3)
      Victoria Elizabeth                  70-70-71-68-78 - 357 (-3)

26   Briana Mao                          73-75-69-73-68 - 358 (-2)
      Marion Ricordeau                 73-73-71-72-69 - 358 (-2)
      Prima Thammaraks              70-72-75-68-73 - 358 (-2)
      Jiayi Zhou                             74-72-68-71-73 - 358 (-2)
      Brittany Altomare                  72-70-72-69-75 - 358 (-2)
      *Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong  70-68-72-73-75 - 358 (-2)

32   Su Oh                                  70-77-68-73-71 - 359 (-1)
      Demi Runas                         71-72-70-73-73 - 359 (-1)
      Heather Bowie Young          69-76-71-67-76 - 359 (-1)
      Pavarisa Yoktuan                 69-73-68-72-77 - 359 (-1)

36  Ani Gulugian                         73-71-73-71-72 - 360 (E)
      Karlin Beck                           71-73-71-72-73 - 360 (E)
      Anne-Catherine Tanguay     72-73-68-73-74 - 360 (E)
      Nicole Jeray                          71-70-72-72-75 - 360 (E)
      Ssu Chia Cheng                   70-73-73-67-77 - 360 (E)

41  Caroline Westrup                  73-72-72-70-74 - 361 (+1)
     Samantha Richdale               70-74-70-73-74 - 361 (+1)

43   Chie Arimura                        78-69-74-70-71 - 362 (+2)
     CĂ©line Herbin                         71-71-76-73-71 - 362 (+2)
     Jaclyn Jansen                        72-78-65-75-72 - 362 (+2)
     Ginger Howard                       72-75-72-70-73 - 362 (+2)
     Jean Reynolds                       71-72-75-71-73 - 362 (+2)
     Hannah Collier                       69-72-73-75-73 - 362 (+2)
     Paz Echeverria                      78-72-67-70-75 - 362 (+2)

* To be referred to on here as Sherman S forever more, as I don't ever want to have to type that name again. ;-)

The following players made the 72 hole cut, but did not play well enough to receive LPGA membership.

50   Dori Carter                           68-74-71-75-75 - 363 (+3)
     Becky Morgan                        72-75-68-72-76 - 363 (+3)
     Nicole Broch Larsen              73-71-73-69-77 - 363 (+3)

53   Marta Sanz Barrio               75-74-75-67-73 - 364 (+4)
     Natalie Sheary                      72-72-71-75-74 - 364 (+4)
     Jeongeun Lee                       76-68-72-73-75 - 364 (+4)
     Jackie Stoelting                     73-72-68-74-77 - 364 (+4)

57   Brittany Benvenuto              72-72-77-70-74 - 365 (+5)
     Nannette Hill                          69-77-72-73-74 - 365 (+5)
     Stacey Keating                      75-73-70-71-76 - 365 (+5)
     Madeleine Sheils                   75-70-72-72-76 - 365 (+5)
     Jacey Chun                           70-72-71-76-76 - 365 (+5)
     Anne-Lise Caudal                  74-68-73-72-78 - 365 (+5)
     Haeji Kang                             69-73-73-72-78 - 365 (+5)

64   Jessica Wallace                   74-75-69-73-75 - 366 (+6)
     Giulia Sergas                         71-72-71-73-79 - 366 (+6)

66   Carlie Yadloczky                  72-76-72-71-76 - 367 (+7)
     Shannon Fish                        72-77-70-72-76 - 367 (+7)
     Therese O'Hara                     71-71-74-73-78 - 367 (+7)

69   Katy Harris                           71-77-72-70-79 - 369 (+9)

70   Lindsay Gahm                      73-69-74-75-79 - 370 (+10)
     Caroline Martens                    74-75-71-70-80 - 370 (+10)

72   Lauren Mielbrecht                 71-76-70-74-80 - 371 (+11)

Note: A number of the above quotes were taken, with permission, from the Symetra tour.

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