Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How Good are the 2017 LPGA Rookies?

The 2017 season is sure off to an amazing start. As has been the case for the past number of years, it seems that every tournament goes down to the very last hole, or results in a playoff.

Congratulations go out to Brittany Lincicome who won the Pure Silk LPGA Bahamas Classic, the first tournament of the year, in (of course) a playoff!

It was a very fast start for some of the 2017 LPGA rookies:
  • Nelly Korda shot -21 under par in her first tournament as an LPGA member (5th place).
  • Laura Gonzalez Escallon shot a score of -18 (9th place).
  • Mel Reid -15 (13th place).
Image result for nelly korda
Nelly Korda shot a remarkable score of  21 under par in her first tournament as an LPGA member.

That brings us to today's subject. Just how good is this year's crop of LPGA rookies?

Last year was a very difficult one for LPGA rookies. Only 6 of 29 rookies finished in the top 100 on the year money list. Three more retained their playing privileges by way of their stellar Symetra tour play. This was a dramatic decrease from 2015 when we had a spectacular rookie crop, but also down substantially from 2014.
  • 2016 -  9 of 29  = 23.1%
  • 2015 - 19 of 33 = 57.6%
  • 2014 - 13 of 28 = 46.4%
Is this year's rookie crop better than the 2016 group? Yes, I think so.
Can it be as good as the 2015 group? No. That was a record breaking year, and we never see another group like that one in our lifetime. But that doesn't mean that this year's group can't still be among the best in recent years. Let's take a look: (Everything written below was put together before the Pure Silk LPGA Classic was played. I did not want to change anything based on the results in the Bahamas, as I wanted this to reflect my original thoughts before the start of the season).

The Very Best:
1- Sung Hyun Park - By far and away the favorite to win the 2017 Rolex Rookie of the Year Award. At the age of 23, she is a rookie in name only. She has already had 8 starts on the LPGA tour, with four top five finishes, five top tens, and 7 top twenties. She has not missed a single cut. She was a winner 7 times on the KLPGA in 2016. 

Future Stars?:
2- Madelene Sagstrom - Broke every conceivable record on the Symetra tour last year. She was the first player to make $100,000 in earnings in tour history, earning $161,064. She did it playing in just 15 events, winning 3 times, and had 11 top ten finishes. She was the 2016 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. She also finished #1 in Q-School in Europe, which means she qualifies for the L.E.T. also. Played 2 tournaments on the LPGA tour last year (The U.S. Women's, and Canadian Opens) and easily made the cut in both. A real bomber off the tee, she led the Symetra tour with a driving average of 278 yards (that is one more yard than Lexi Thompson averaged on the LPGA).

3- Nelly Korda - With a sister (Jessica) who has 4 LPGA victories, and parents that were tennis pros (her father Petr won the Australian Open), she probably gets put here by her name alone. Don't underestimate her though. The 18 year old got off to a miserable start on the Symetra tour the first 2/3 of the season, but then became the hottest player this side of Madelene Sagstrom. She reeled off 7 top tens, including one victory, to sneak into 9th place on that tour's money list and avoid Q-School. She qualified and made the cut last year at the U.S. Women's Open. Her category 10 playing card will guarantee her starts in all full field events.

4- Aditi Oshok - It starts to get a bit tougher now to predict, as nobody else is as clear cut as the players listed above. Aditi represented India in the 2016 Olympic games. At just 18 years of age, she has already tasted victory, winning the last two events on LET in 2016. She finished outside the top 20 in the final stage of Q-School (24th), resulting in her receiving category 17 playing privileges (top 20 finishes received category 12 cards and can play in all full field events). With a priority ranking of #156, she will have to take advantage of her early opportunities and improve that ranking with the first priority list reshuffle. 

5- Nasa Hataoka - If you believe all the hype about this 17 year old from Japan, then she may be the next Lydia Ko. She does have quite a resume of success for a player of her age. She won the 2016 Japan Women's Open Championship, becoming the first amateur and youngest champion to win a major tournament on the Japan LPGA (JLPGA). She finished 14th in the final stage of Q-School, and has earned full playing privileges with her category 12 playing card.

The Best of the Rest:
6- Mel Reid - At 30 years old, she is already a seasoned veteran. A longtime LET player (and Solheim Cup participant), she has 5 wins and 49 top ten finishes on that tour. She was the 2008 LET Rookie of the Year. Made some noise with her 9th place finish at the 2015 Ricoh Women's British Open. She finished 8th in final stage of  Q-School and earned her category 12 card. A solid, if not spectacular player, look for her to play well in 2017.

7- Nicole Broch Larsen - This 23 year old represented Denmark in the 2016 Olympic games. She has appeared in 6 LPGA events with 4 top 25 finishes. She was the 2015 LET player of the year. With a category 17 playing card, and a priority ranking of 161, she will have to make the most of her early season chances to improve thank ranking with the first reshuffle to get into more tournaments.

They Could Surprise:
8- Olafia Kristinsdottir - This 24 year old is the first player from Iceland to play on the LPGA tour. She finished 2nd (behind Jaye Marie Green) at the 2016 LPGA final Q-School. She will get plenty of opportunities with her Category 12 playing privileges.

9- Emily Pedersen - Emily was the 2015 Rookie of the Year on the LET. The 20 year has one win and 10 top ten finishes on that tour. She impressed many last year when she finished 14th at the Evian Championship. Her 28th place finish at Q-school only earned her a category 17 playing card, so it won't be easy.

10- Bronte Law - This 21 year old won the 2016 European Ladies Amateur Championship, and became the #2 ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. She holds the UCLA record for most career wins with seven. Her 24th place finish at final round Q-School earned her category 17 playing privileges, and a priority ranking of #159.

11- Laura Gonzalez Escallon - This 26 year old from Belgium is a long shot pick. She spent 3 year's on the Symetra tour which usually doesn't translate into success on the LPGA. But she was the big 10 player of the year in 2012, and won twice last year on the Symetra tour. Another thing she has going for her is a solid #88 ranking on the LPGA priority list, which means she will be playing regularly all year long. A late bloomer? Maybe. A long shot? Certainly.

12- Mariah Stackhouse - Mariah finished 22nd at the LPGA final stage qualifying tournament, missing out on her category 12 playing privileges by just one stroke. The Category 17 card she earned means she will have to make the most of any early season opportunities. Her priority rating of #157 isn't that bad so she should get those opportunities. Mariah, 22, was a 3 time All American at Stanford University, where she helped lead the Cardinals to the 2015 National Championship. She also played on the victorious 2014 U.S. Curtis Cup Team.

There you have it! My top rookie picks for 2017. There are 25 other rookies on the LPGA roster this year. Most of them will have to take advantage of limited playing time early in the season if they want to move up on the priority list. The LPGA has two priority list reshuffles during the season.

Other Tidbits:
Charley Hull was the only player in the top 35 of the LPGA priority list to miss the cut at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic.

Rookie Dana Finkelstein hit 100% of her fairways this week (28 for 28), and missed the cut.

It was a solid showing for defending champion Hyo Joo Kim who shot the exact score that she shot last year. Unfortunately for her, it was only good enough for a 9th place tie.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Brittany Lincicome leaps up from #48 to #33, while Pornanong Phatlum jumps up from #49 to #44. Outside the top 100, Nelly Korda catapults from # 338 to #249.

Race to the CME Globe: (1 Million Dollars)
Brittany Lincicome jumps out of the gate with 500 points. She is followed by Lexi Thompson with 300 and Stacy Lewis with 190.

Who's Hot:
Hard to say. Seemed like all the players that ended the season playing well either skipped the Bahamas or didn't play well, and all of the players who weren't playing well last year played well this week.

Who's Not:
Long time fan favorites Paula Creamer, Yani Tseng, and Michelle Wie, ( all looking to make comebacks this year) all missed the cut.

This week's Trivia Question:  (for those who haven't seen it earlier in the week).

Who was the last American player to win the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year award?

For the answer to this week's trivia question press here.

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Brittany Lincicome Wins, Nelly Korda Shines!

The year 2016 was a very poor year (and that's putting it mildly) for American Golfers on the LPGA tour. They were able to win just twice in 34 official LPGA events. With the season starting this week in the Bahamas, veteran players such as: Brittany Lincicome, Stacy Lewis, Gerina Piller, and Lexi Thompson, needed to step up their game dramatically in 2017.

This week they all came through with flying colors. In a rarity, the American players finished 1 through 5, in the year's first tournament. In fact, at the turn on Sunday's final round, the four players that I mentioned above, were all tied for the lead with no other player within 6 strokes.

The lead went back and forth, with each player enjoying the lead at some point on the back nine. When Stacy Lewis triple bogeyed the 14th hole, it all but ended her chances. When Brittany Lincicome (playing ahead of the other three players) birdied the 18th hole, she tied Lexi Thompson for the lead. A birdie on the par 5 18th would win it for Thompson. But then the sky opened up, and the conditions became almost unplayable. Lexi sank a 5 footer for par, forcing a playoff. When Lincicome birdied the first playoff hole (the 18th), she became the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic champion.

Image result for Brittany lincicome wins pure silk
Brittany Lincicome holds up her 2017 Pure Silk Bahamas Classic trophy.

As exciting as this tournament was, Brittany's win was not the only big story.

Nelly Korda, younger sister of Jessica, made her debut as an LPGA member, and shot an incredible score of -21.

Image result for Nelly korda pure silk bahamas
Nelly Korda shot a -10 under 63 on Saturday

I am going to assume that that has to be an LPGA record for a debut performance.

I will be back in a couple of days with more on this year's rookies.

This week's Trivia Question:

Who was the last American player to win the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year award?

For the answer to this week's trivia question press here.
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Monday, January 23, 2017

Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic Preview, Pairings and More.

Well.... Here We Go!

Image result for Pure silk lpga bahamas classic 2017

It is time to start the 2017 LPGA season. With 35 tournaments on the schedule (including the Solheim Cup), more prize money, and more television coverage, the 2017 season promises to be the biggest and best ever.

The season will open in the Bahamas once again this year with the playing of the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic.

Last year's event brought us a very exciting finish when Hyo Joo Kim shot a final round 66, to win by 2 strokes over Stacy Lewis, Sei Young Kim, and Anna Nordqvist.

Image result for Hyo joo kim wins pure silk
Hyo Joo Kim will be trying to defend the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic title she won last year.

This will be tournament #1 of 34 official tournaments on this year's schedule.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Ocean Club Golf Course
Location:  Paradise Island, Bahamas
Defending Champion:  Hyo Joo Kim
*Winning Score: 70 - 70 - 68 - 66 = 274 (-18)

Final Field: 108 Players
Par: 36/37 = 73
Yardage:  6,625
Purse:  $1,400,000

*Jessica Korda holds the tournament record with a 69 - 66 - 72 - 66 = 273 (-19) that she set when she won in 2014.

My strength of field rating is 44% (down from 65%) last year. With the Coates Golf Championship no longer on the schedule (it followed this tournament last year), and 2 weeks off following this tournament, it appears that many of the players from Asia and Europe have chosen to start their season in February (many will also skip the next stop in Australia and start their season in Thailand).

Players not teeing it up this week include: Lydia Ko, In Gee Chun, Sung Hyun Park, Shanshan Feng, Anna Nordqvist, Ha Na Jang, Haru Nomura, Minjee Lee, Mirim Lee, and Suzann Pettersen.

That does not mean that this tournament will be without any stars. The field will be led by World #2 Ariya Jutanugarn, and will also include such stars as: Lexi Thompson (#5), Sei Young Kim (#6), Brooke Henderson (#8), Amy Yang (#12), Stacy Lewis (#14), and Charley Hull (#15).

Here are the pairings for round 1:

Here are the television times:
Jan 26 - GC 11:30 AM-2:30 PM ET
Jan 27 - GC 11:30 AM-2:30 PM ET
Jan 28 - GC 3:00 PM-5:00 PM ET
Jan 29 - GC 3:00 PM-5:00 PM ET

I am going to change it up a bit this year with my picks by doing the following:

Players Most likely to win: (Top players in the field)
  • Ariya Jutanugarn -Top player in the field.
  • Sei Young Kim - Has won here before.
  • Lexi Thompson - Played well with the men last week.
  • Brooke Henderson - Well rested and always dangerous.
Players to watch out for: (I'm feeling it this week)
  • Charley Hull - Won the last LPGA event.
  • Hyo Joo Kim - Defending Champion.
  • Jessica Korda - Loves to win early in the year, and has won here before.
Longshot Picks: (Not likely, but not impossible)
  • Stacy Lewis - Hasn't played well for two years, but was runner up in 2016.
  • Brittany Lincicome - Plays well here every year without winning.
  • Megan Khang - I am ready for a big year from this lady.
Other Tidbits:
Natalie Gulbis and Georgette Rolle have received sponsor exemptions into this week's tournament.

Commissioner Michael Whan announced the following changes to the Race to the CME Globe:

  • The Top Five (5) finishers entering Naples will control their own destiny at the CME Group Tour Championship - - meaning if they win in Naples, they will also win the $1M CME Globe.
  • The Top twelve (12) finishers entering Naples will have a mathematical chance to win the $1M CME Globe.
  • Please note that previously, the Top 3 controlled their destiny and Top 9 had a mathematical chance.

This Week's Trivia Question:

There were 5 players on the LPGA tour that did not miss a single cut in 2016. How many can you name?

For the answer to this week's trivia question press here.

UPDATE #1: Nicole Broch Larsen and Anne-Catherine Tanguay both shot a score of 71 in very windy conditions to take the 2 Monday qualifier spots for this week's tournament.

UPDATE #2: Sydnee Michaels and Annie Park have been dropped from the original field list, and have been replaced by Sandra Changkija
 and Mina Harigae.

UPDATE #3 - Becky Morgan is out. She has been replaced by Brooke Pancake.

Here are the leaders after round 3:

1 Stacy Lewis -23
1 Lexi Thompson -23
3 Gerina Piller -22
4 Brittany Lincicome -21
5 Laetitia Beck -16
6 Nelly Korda -15
6 Pornanong Phatlum -15
6 Austin Ernst -15
9 Laura Gonzalez Escallon -14
9 Hyo Joo Kim -14
9 Xi Yu Lin -14
9 Megan Khang -14
13 Stephanie Meadow -13
13 Ayako Uehara -13
13 Simin Feng -13
13 Mariajo Uribe -13
17 Katie Burnett -12
17 Wei Ling Hsu -12
19 Amy Yang -11
19 Amy Anderson -11
19 Jing Yan -11
19 Mo Martin -11

For full scoreboard see link at top of this page.
Be sure to check back here daily for any LPGA news or updates. They will be posted here at the bottom of this blog.  Links to all Women's Tour scoreboards can be found at the top of this page.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

LPGA Player Profile: So Yeon Ryu

Last year I asked my readers for suggestions to make this a better blog. It is important to me to know what my readers want to see and read about.

I have gotten many requests to implement a quiz at the end of each article, which I started doing late last year.

I have also received a number of requests to do player profiles. Many of my readers are new fans of the LPGA, and women's golf in general. They are not familiar with all the players on tour. Even some of the more knowledgeable fans have asked for more information on certain players.

I would like to do my first player profile today, and if I can make the time would like to continue throughout the year.

I have chosen one of my favorite players to get things started. She is one of the most consistent players on the LPGA tour, and is also one of the most approachable. She is always happy to sign anything put in front of her, or take a picture with you. There is no "diva" in this lady and she is always wearing a smile. My choice is:

So Yeon Ryu

Image result for so yeon ryu wins u.s. open
So Yeon Ryu kisses the 2011 U.S. Open trophy

Pronounced So-Yun-You.

Birthday: 6/29/1990 (26 years old)

Hometown: Seoul South Korea

Makes her residence in: Torrance, California 

So Yeon was a rookie in 2012. She had already won the U.S. Women's Open in 2011, as a non LPGA member.

Her 2016 earnings were $1,259,651, which placed her #10 on the money list.

She has won 3 times on the LPGA tour:
  • 2011 U.S. Women's Open (major championship)
  • 2012 Jamie Farr Toledo Classic 
  • 2014 Canadian Pacific Women's Open.
Ryu, with yours truly at the Jaime Farr Toledo Classic

So Yeon has a history of playing her best golf in major championships. Here are her best finishes in each of the five LPGA majors.
  • ANA Inspiration - Finished 2nd in 2013
  • KPMG Women's PGA Championship - Finished 4th in 2016
  • U.S. Women's Open - 2011 winner
  • Ricoh Women's British Open - Finished 3rd in 2015
  • The Evian Championship - Finished 4th in 2013
She has a remarkable record of finishing in the top ten in her career.
  • 132 career starts
  • 63 top ten finishes
  • 47.7%
Other Career Highlights:
  • Had 11 top ten finishes (in just 24 starts) in 2016, including 6 top fives.
  • Finished in the top ten in scoring average (6th), Greens in Regulation (2), and rounds under par(10th) in 2016.
  • In just 5 years on tour, has already earned over $6,500,000, which is 35th on the LPGA career money list.
  • Was a member of Team Korea at the 2014 and 2016 UL International Crown and posted a 6-2 record.
  • Eaned the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year award in 2012.
  • A six time KLPGA winner where she was a rookie in 2008.
There are many other highlights, I have just listed a few that I felt were most important. Feel free to add your own.

This week's Trivia Question (In case you missed it earlier in the week):

What player will be starting the 2017 season with a streak of seven consecutive top ten finishes. 

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Monday, January 16, 2017

My Top 40 Player of the Year Predictions for 2017

We are just about a week away from the beginning of the 2017 season.

With 35 tournaments on the schedule (including the Solheim Cup), this year promises to to be one of the most exciting ever.

With the LPGA getting more and more talented each and every year, it is very difficult to narrow this down to just 40 players.

I  am going strictly by where I think they will finish on the 2017 money list.

Here are my top 40 picks for the 2017 season: (last year's actual money list finish is in parenthesis)

1- Ariya Jutanugarn (1) - Some people I have spoken to think that 2016 was a fluke. I don't. Her earlier struggles were mostly the result of a very erratic driver, which she hardly even takes out of the bag anymore. She outdrives almost everyone on tour using her 3-wood or a 2-iron. How is that for a big advantage over her competition? Her new swing coach, Gary Gilchrist, seems to have made all the difference in the world, and has brought her a newly found confidence. I don't only think she will be as good as 2016, I think she will be better.

2- Lydia Ko (2) - Lydia struggled a bit in the second half of the season. Though her "struggle" would be most golfers' paradise. Lydia is a great player. No questioning that! One of the greatest women golfers ever, and she doesn't turn 20 until April. That said, I think that if both her and Ariya are playing at the top of their games, Ariya is the more dominant player. Watching these two go head to head in 2017, is worth the admission to any tournament.

3- In Gee Chun (4) - We have a bit of a gap here between numbers 2 and 3. In my opionion, any of the next 5 or 6 players can grab this position. I am going to give the edge to In Gee because she missed a number of tournaments last year (due to a flying suitcase) and still finished #4 on the year's money list.

4- Sung Hyun Park (Rookie) - The first of four rookies that made my list this year. She has made 8 starts on the LPGA tour as a non member, and has four top five finishes, five top tens, and seven top twenties. She won seven times on the KLPGA tour in 2016. She can start to prepare her acceptance speech for the Rolex Rookie of the Year award. Only question is, is she good enough to challenge the top two?

Image result for Sung Hyun Park
They can start engraving Sung Hyun Park's name on the 2017  Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year trophy now.

5- Brooke Henderson (3) - Expect Brooke to be right there in the mix battling for that #3 spot that she finished in last year. She just recently turned 19 years of age, and has already won 3 times (including a major championship). I would like to see her rest a bit more in the first part of the season, as she seemed tired down the home stretch last year.

6- Shanshan Feng (5) - This one is easy. Just plug her into this spot every year and you can never go wrong.

7- Ha Na Jang (8) - Like I said earlier, any one of my top 8 or 9 players can finish as high as the #3 spot. They are all very close in talent and it might take a lucky bounce or an injury to separate them. Only question here is can she win her first major championship?

8- Lexi Thompson (18) - Nagging injuries caused her to play in only 19 of 33 tournaments in 2016. If healthy (and all indications are she is) she can finish in this area even with her continued horrific putting. If she can improve and become just an average putter, she will finish much higher than this. She is still just 21 years old, and her win last year was her seventh on the LPGA tour.

Image result for lexi thompson
In spite of putting problems throughout her career, Lexi has 7 LPGA wins and still is only 21 years old.

9- Sei Young Kim (6) - The fact that I think that Sei Young will have as good a year as 2016 (if not better) and I am dropping her 3 spots, is an indication of just how many great players there are on the LPGA tour. She is the last of the players that I feel can finish as high as #3.

10- Carlota Ciganda (14) - For a number of years people have been saying "Carlota is the best of the girls from Spain on the LPGA tour." She has finally lived up to those expectations, by winning two of the last 5 LPGA tournaments on the 2016 schedule. I will have to see her do it again, before I can rank her in what I consider "the big nine."

11- Charley Hull (15) - If everyone played the game of golf as rapidly as Charley, we would have 3 hour rounds instead of  5 hour marathons. She is one of a kind. She goes about her business as if she does not have a care in the world. Never seems to really feel any pressure. At 20 years old, she won her first LPGA tournament at the CME Tour Championship last season. Takes too many weeks off to rank her much higher than this, as she needs time to "party with her mates." If she ever made golf her top priority, she would be amongst the elite players on the LPGA tour!

Image result for charley hull wins cme
Chances are Charley Hull was on the green with putter in hand before those glasses hit the ground.

12- Stacy Lewis (16) - The former #1 player in the world has been going downhill for two years now. No real reason to think that trend won't continue, except for a gut feeling that she will win again.

13- Minjee Lee (12) - At the age of 20, Minjee has already developed into one of the most consistent players on tour. A two time winner in 2016, it will be interesting if she can break out of the pack of very good players and get to the next level which I call the "elite." Don't bet against her doing it soon.

14- Amy Yang (13) - Can someone who plays the game of golf as well as Amy does, still be called an underachiever? I can't help but think so. At age 27, she is no longer considered young by current LPGA standards. She will be entering her 10th year on the LPGA tour, but in spite of 51 top ten finishes, she has just 2 wins.

15- Haru Nomura (11) - If it wasn't for Ariya Jutanugarn, we would be talking about this young lady as the surprise player of 2016. She finished #66 on the money list in 2015, and improved to #11 this past year. She picked up her first two victories on the LPGA tour early in the year, and faded some in the second half of the season. I expect another solid year, but no higher than this position.

16- So Yeon Ryu (10) - Is there a nicer LPGA player on tour? Is there a more consistent LPGA player on tour? IMO the answer to both those questions is no. Unfortunately, I also have to ask if there is another player on tour that has as much trouble as she does finishing on Sundays. Sixty-three seems to be her number. She is a model of consistency as attested by her current streak of 63 consecutive cuts made. In her 5 years on tour she has 63 top ten finishes, but only 3 wins (I was fortunate enough to be at all three). She hasn't won in almost 3 years, and needs to break that spell before more players on this list pass her by.

So Yeon Ryu speaks to the media at the International Crown.

17- Anna Nordqvist (7) - She will not three-peat at the ShopRite Classic this year.

18- Brittany Lang - (9) - She will not win that huge U.S. Open check again this year.

19- Suzann Pettersen (22) - She will be turning 36 soon, and has struggled with back problems for a number of years now. There is no reason to believe that she will reverse her downward spiral, but don't tell her that.

20- Jessica Korda (24) - Jessica, Jessica, Jessica, the U.S. players need to win more, and you are one of those players that must step up and get us some. You know how to win, you have done it 4 times. You are still only 23. I can only hope that your sister being on tour with you this year will bring you greater motivation.

21- Mirim Lee (17) - Won twice in 2014 (her rookie season), but hasn't won since.

22- Hyo Joo Kim (20) - She definitely took a few steps backward in 2016, when comparing it to her wonderful rookie season the year before. This tour is now loaded with so much talent that if you don't play well week in and week out, you will fall out of the top 20 very quickly.

23- Gerina Piller - (19) - Gerina, Gerina Gerina, the U.S. players need to win more and you are one........  Can we count on you for just one win in 2017?

24- Alison Lee - (38) - Ali, Ali, Ali, the U.S. players need to win more.........................
I believe you are the real deal and are expecting big things from you this year.

Image result for alison lee
We are all hoping Alison Lee will bring a smile to all our faces this year with her first victory.

25- Pornanong Phatlum (30) - She no longer has the pressure on her to become the first player from Thailand to win on the LPGA tour. If she becomes the second player, she will finish higher than where I am placing her.

26- I.K. Kim (29) - I.K. disappears for too many stretches during the LPGA season. I don't mean her game disappears, I mean she disappears. Her game, when she shows up, is still solid. But how can I rank her higher than this when she plays in just 50% of the tournaments she qualifies for?

27- Madelene Sagstrom (Rookie) - Broke every conceivable record on the Symetra tour last year. She also won Q-School in Europe (so she qualifies for the L.E.T also). Played two tournaments on the LPGA tour last season (The U.S. Open, and the Canadian Open), and made the cut easily in both.
Experts that I have talked to swear that she is the real deal. We will find out soon enough. Extremely approachable, look for her to become a fan favorite.

Image result for madelene sagstrom
Look for Madelene Sagstrom to make an impact on the LPGA in her rookie season.

28- Candie Kung (35) - Like a fine wine, Candie seems to get better with age. She will turn 36 during the upcoming season, but shows no signs of slowing down.

29- Jodi Ewart Shadoff (32) - Possessing one of the most beautiful swings on the LPGA tour, Jodi finally lived up to many of our expectations in 2016. After finishing 98th on the money list in 2015, she improved to #32 last year. I look for continued improvement in the coming year.

30- M.J. Hur (21) - She seems to follow the same pattern every year. Sleepwalk through the first 25 tournaments of the year, and then turn it on when the tour moves to Asia. Can't rely on that working every year.

31- Mel Reid (Rookie) - Like Sung Hyun Park, she is a rookie in name only. At 30 years old she is a very experienced player who has 5 wins and 49 top tens on the L.E.T.

32- Mo Martin (23) - I leave her off this list every year, and she makes me look foolish. I don't know how she does it. Every time you see her she is taking her approach shot 35 yards behind everyone else. She has made a believer out of me.

33- Jenny Shin (27) - Jenny broke through for her first LPGA win in 2016. She will have to win again or fall back a few spots.

34- Beth Allen (N/A) - She is not a rookie as she played on the LPGA tour way back in 2006. I don't know that much about her, though she did win the Order of Merit (#1 on the money list) on the L.E.T. tour last year. She has 3 wins and 36 top tens on that tour. Success on the L.E.T. doesn't always translate into similar numbers on the LPGA tour (in fact it seldom does).

35- Karine Icher (28) - Had a career year in 2016. I expect she will fall back some.

36- Chella Choi (31) - Had a very quiet year in 2016. Like I said before, if you are not consistent throughout the entire year, you will fall down this chart very quickly. This tour is just that good.

37- Danielle Kang (36) -  We saw flashes last year of the player that won back to back amateur championships a few years back. But not enough flashes.

38- Su Oh (50) - She has played well in stretches. Those stretches will have to be longer to make this pick look good.

39- Kim Kaufman (53) - She works too hard not to make this list soon. Don't bet against it being this year.

Image result for kim kaufman
It's time for Kim Kaufman to step up onto this list.

40- Nasa Hatoaka (Rookie) - My fourth and final rookie on this list. This is a longshot pick, but if some of the things I have read about this teenage sensation is true, she could finish higher on this list.

Player most likely to make me look foolish for leaving her off this list:
Mi Hyang Lee.

Player left off because her injuries at the time of this writing make it impossible to predict how much she will play:
Inbee Park

This Week's Trivia Question:

What player will be starting the 2017 season with a streak of seven consecutive top ten finishes. 

For the the answer to this week's trivia question press here.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ten Question for the 2017 Season

As we approach the beginning of the 2017 LPGA season, there are a number of questions that I am looking forward to getting the answers to. In reverse order, here are my top ten:

10- Can veteran USA players Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, and Morgan Pressel bounce back from very disappointing 2016 seasons?

9- Can Nelly Korda join her sister and become a major player on the LPGA tour?
Image result for nelly and jessica korda
Nelly (L) and Jessica (R) Korda
8- Will Gerina Piller (who has 31 career top ten finishes), finally break through for her first LPGA victory?

7- Was Na Yeon Choi's disastrous second half of the season the beginning of the end for her, or does she still have some good golf left?

6- Is Nasa Hatoaka, the 17 year old  sensation from Japan (she will be 18 in 2 days) who was the first amateur to win a major championship on the JLPGA tour, the next Lydia Ko?

Image result for nasa hataoka
Nasa Hatoaka

5- Now that Lydia Ko is hearing footsteps from Ariya Jutanugarn, will she be able to maintain her #1 spot in the Rolex Rankings throughout the year?

4- Have we seen the last of Inbee Park? If not, will she resemble the great player we have watched for so many years?

3- Can anyone challenge Sung Hyun Park for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award?

Image result for sung hyun park
Sung Hyun Park

2- Can the USA retain the Solheim Cup that they won with a record breaking comeback in 2015, and continue to have both the Solheim and International Crown trophies in their possession?

1- Can Ariya Jutanugarn duplicate or better her 2016 season in which she won 5 times, won her first major championship, won the 1 million dollar CME bonus, won the player of the year award, and won more money than anyone else on tour?

Feel free to answer the above questions or add some of your own.

This week's Trivia question (for those who haven't  already answered it earlier in the week):

What LPGA player from England missed the cut in her first tournament of 2016, and then did not miss another all year (making her last 25).

A- Jodi Ewart Shadoff
B- Charley Hull
C- Holly Clyburn

For the answer to this week's trivia question press here.

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Most Popular Photos of the Year - 2016

As many of my readers know, my wife and I go to quite a few LPGA tournaments each year. Since 2010 we have gone to over 45 events, including two in Scotland (St. Andrews being our favorite), and the last 7 Canadian Opens.

I do all the writing on here (my wife who is a teacher, is my proofreader), while my wife Cindy does most of the picture taking. Neither of us are professional photographers, but once in a while we get lucky and capture a moment that is very popular with my viewers.

Below I have reposted the most popular pictures of 2016. I based this on the number of website hits, and the number of comments each photo received. Some came as quite a surprise to me, as when they were taken I was not expecting such a reaction.

Haru Nomura (Calgary)

Azahara Munoz at the Canadian Open (Calgary)

Brooke Henderson spoke to a packed media center in Calgary

Madelene Sagstrom will be a rookie in 2017, but she is already very popular with both the fans and the press (Calgary)

Maude Aimee Leblanc (U.S. Open)

Azahara Munoz (l) Carlota Ciganda (r)  (U.S Open)

In Gee Chun (Maybe this made the list because I pressed it so many times) at U.S. Open

Mi Hyang Lee (ShopRite)

Kim Kaufman was feeling the heat (U.S. Open)

Danielle Kang (Calgary)

Was Ha Na Jang doing a line dance? (Calgary)

Mariajo Uribe (ShopRite)

Hee Young Park (Calgary)

Minjee Lee (Calgary)
Jaye Marie Green (ShopRite)

Brooke Henderson (Calgary)

Belen Mozo (ShopRite)

The 2015 champion (Muni He) was unable to defend her title in 2016. We have a new champion. The following photo(s) were by far the most popular photos of 2016. Because of their popularity I will post them all again.

In Gee Chun Charmed us all at the U.S. Women's Open............

Then she did it again at the International Crown

Bonus Pics:
Ilhee Lee

Sandra Gal

Gaby Lopez

Jaye Marie Green

Kathleen Ekey

Michelle Wie

Se Ri Pak

Lexi Thompson

Jaye Marie Green
Team Korea - International Crown

Team Japan - International Crown

This weeks trivia question:

What LPGA player from England missed the cut in her first tournament of 2016, and then did not miss another all year (making her last 25).

A- Jodi Ewart Shadoff
B- Charley Hull
C- Holly Clyburn

For the answer to this week's trivia question press here.

   (Currently 1,519 followers)