Thursday, May 12, 2016

Rating the 2016 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.

 Depending on the player's  Priority rating, some have played up to 10 events this year, others haven't teed it up at all. I have given grades to all players that have played in at least 2 tournaments.

You might think that some of these grades I have given are harsh, but this is the big time now, and these players have to take advantage of every opportunity, or risk losing their cards. 

 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. 

In Gee Chun appears to be the heavy favorite to win the 2016 Rookie of the Year award.

In alphabetical order: (SA = Scoring Average)

SSU Chia Cheng  Has teed it up 4 times this year and made 3 cuts, with a best finish of 40th place. She is currently # 121 on the money list, and has a SA of 73.4. The latest reshuffle was kind to her and she moved from 177 to 155 on the priority list, so she may get more chances. Look for her to take advantage. Grade C

In Gee Chun - With Brooke Henderson choosing to pass on being a 2016 rookie, there really isn't any competition here for Rookie of the Year Award. In Gee is clearly the best player of the 2016 crop. She has made all 6 of her cuts, and is #8 on this year's money list in spite of having a second place finish that didn't count in official earnings. Her SA of 69.8 ranks 3rd on the LPGA. She hasn't won yet this year, but has finished 2nd, three different times. A future make that a star right now. Grade A+

Holly Clyburn - Already a star on the LET (Currently #7 on that money list), Holly has teed it up 6 times this year on the LPGA, making 4 cuts. She is #100 on the money list, has a best finish of T20, and a SA of 72.7. Look for her to climb up the money list as she plays more LPGA tournaments. Grade C+

Hanna Collier - Hanna has missed the cut in all three of her starts this year, and carries a 76.0 SA. Grade F

Ani Gulagan - Has had just one start on the LPGA this year and missed the cut. Her SA is 79.0.
Grade Incomplete

Ginger Howard - Missed the cut in her only appearance, and has a 79.5 SA. Grade Incomplete

Jaclyn Jenson - Has teed it up twice this year, and has failed to make the cut on both occasions. Her SA is 78.3. Grade F

Megan Khang - She has either been great, or just plain awful. There has been no in-between. She has teed it up 9 times this year, and missed the cut 6 times. The three times she has made the cut, she has been in contention, finishing 7th, 4th, and 11th. Her consistency will improve. She is currently #43 on the money list, with a SA of 71.8. Megan is just 19 years old, and I predict she will be in the top ten of the world rankings by the time she is 21. Grade B 

Lee Lopez - Lee has made the cut in 5 of her 9 starts this year, but is still on the outside looking in at #101 on the money list. Her best finish is T31, and her SA of 73.4 must improve a bit to stay on this tour. Grade C

Gaby Lopez has been the biggest rookie surprise so far this year.

Gaby Lopez - A pleasant surprise! Gaby has teed it up 10 times this year, missing only 2 cuts. She has 3 top 20 finishes, and is currently #56 on the money list. Her SA of 71.8 matches that of  the much more publicized Megan Khang. Grade B

Brianna Mao - In four starts this year, she has made the cut twice, with a best finish of T33. She is currently #124 on the money list. Her priority rating improved 10 spots (to 153) after the last reshuffle, which should result in more starts. Her SA of 72.7 isn't that bad. Look for her to improve by my next report. Grade C

Ally McDonald - Has not played this year. Grade Incomplete

Wichanee Meechai  - Has played just one event this year, and missed the cut with a SA of 77.0. Grade Incomplete

Grace Na -  Grace has had plenty of opportunities this year but has failed to take advantage of them. In nine tournaments, she has only seen the weekend once. She currently ranks #151 on the money list , with a best finish of 70th place. Her SA of 75.4 will not cut it on this tour. Grade F

Benayapa Niphatsophan - This is the 2nd (Meechai was the first) of 7 rookies from Thailand on the LPGA tour this year. A very impressive showing. The problem thus far is that not one of them appear to be ready, or have had any success. Combined they have teed it up 29 times, missing 21 cuts. In fact, the best finish for the bunch was a T45. Benayapa has teed it up 8 times, making just 3 cuts. Her best finish is T49, and her SA is 74.0 Grade C-

Su Oh - It has been a nice year so far for Oh, and with her improved priority ranking (169 to 138), look for it to get even better. She has made the cut in 4 of her 5 starts, and has 2 top 20 finishes. She is currently #81 on the money list, and has a solid 72.0 SA. Grade B-

Annie Park - I expected more from Annie, but it has been pretty good nonetheless. In 10 starts, Annie has made the cut 6 times. She does have a top 10 finish, and carries a SA of 73.1. She is currently #82 on the money list, but I expect that to improve. Grade B-

Ashlan Ramsey - It has been a struggle so far for Ashlan, as she has made just 2 of 9 cuts this year. Her best finish is a T69, with a 75.2 SA. She is #145 on the money list. Grade D-

Marion Ricordeau - She has made 2 cuts in her 4 starts this year, with a best finish of T23. She has split her time playing both the LPGA and the LET. With the new reshuffle, her priority rating has improved from 177 to 155. This will result in more starts. She is currently #113 on the money list, and her SA is an okay 72.7.
Grade C-

Cyna Rodriguez - It's been a tough start of the year for Cyna. She has only seen the weekend twice in 9 starts. Her best finish of T67, SA of 75.0, and money list ranking of #147, must all improve if she is to have any chance of retaining her playing card. Grade D- 

Rachel Rohanna - It's been a mixed bag for Rachel so far this year. She is very capable of going low, and just as capable of shooting 10 strokes higher the next day. The talent is there, it's just a matter of consistency. She has made 5 cuts in 9 tries this year, with a best finish of T31. Her SA of 73.6 should improve, and along with it her #103 money rank. Grade C

Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong - If I am going to have to type that name, I wish she would at least get a start. That hasn't happened yet this year. Grade Incomplete

Bertine Strauss - In 8 starts this year she has made 4 cuts, with a best finish of T24. She is currently #108 on the money list, and her Sa is 73.0. Grade C

Budsabakorn Sukapan - She has had plenty of opportunities this year, but has not been able to finish better than 45th. She has made just 3 cuts in 9 tournaments, and has a SA of 74.0.  She is currently #134 on this year's money list. Grade D 

Anne-Catherine Tanquay - In two starts this year, she has failed to make it to the weekend. Her SA is 74.5. Grade F

Prima Thammaraks - She has also not been able to make the weekend in her 2 starts this year, and sports a 77.5 SA. Grade F

Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras - She has not been able to make an impression this year, in spite of playing regularly. She has only made 2 cuts, while teeing it up 9 times. Her best finish is a T65, and has a SA of 74.9.  She currently ranks #152 on the money list. Grade D-

Pavarisa Yoktuan - Didn't make the cut in her only start of the year. Has a SA of 75.0. Grade Incomplete

Jiayai Zhou - Has 2 starts this year and has not made a cut. She has a 76.5 SA.
Grade F

Note: There will be one more final reshuffle the second week of June. In some cases it only takes one made cut to improve your priority ranking and get the chance to play in more events.

The LPGA resumes its schedule next week with the playing of the Kingsmill Championship. Look for my preview, and lots more, in a few days.

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