Skip to main content

How Good are the 2018 LPGA Rookies?

The 2018 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 for winning the Pure Silk LPGA Bahamas Classic, the first tournament of the year. As usual the tournament went right down to the final hole before the winner was determined. See my recap here.

It was a very fast start for some of the 2018 LPGA rookies:
  • Hannah Green shot a 4 under par 215 to finish in 11th place.
  • Erynne Lee's 2 under par 217 was good enough for a 21st place finish.
  • Nannah Koertz Madsen, Maria Torres, Yu Liu, and Lindsey Weaver, in their first tournaments as LPGA members, all managed to shoot even par (tied for 31st) in the blustery conditions in the Bahamas.
That brings us to today's subject. Just how good is this year's crop of LPGA rookies?

Image result for jin young ko wins hana bank

Last year was a strong year for LPGA rookies. Twelve of thirty-seven rookies finished in the top 100 on the year money list. One more retained her playing privileges by way of her stellar play on the Symetra tour. This was a dramatic increase from 2016 when only 9 rookies were able to retain their playing privileges.

 Here is a look at the percentage of LPGA players who were able to retain their playing privileges after their first season:
  • 2017 - 13 of 37 = 35.1%
  • 2016 -  9 of 29  = 23.1%
  • 2015 - 19 of 33 = 57.6%
  • 2014 - 13 of 28 = 46.4%
  • 2013 -  8 of 35  = 22.8%
  • 2012 - 12 of 33 = 36.3%
Is this year's rookie crop better than the 2017 group? Only time will tell.
Can it be as good as the 2015 group? No. That was a record breaking year, and we may never see another group like that one in our lifetime. But that doesn't mean that this year's group can't still be amongst 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: (age and country in parenthesis)
1- Jin Young Ko (25 / South Korea) - The heavy favorite to win the 2018 Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award. Ko has won ten times on the Korean LPGA Tour (KLPGA). She has already won on the LPGA Tour, winning the 2017 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Classic. She was also the runner-up to Inbee Park in the 2015 Ricoh Women's British Open. As of this writing she is ranked #18 on the Rolex World Rankings. 

Future Stars?:
2- Georgia Hall (21 / England) - In my opinion, the only player on this list that has a reasonable chance to challenge Jin Young Ko for rookie honors. Georgia was a member of Team Europe in the 2017 Solheim Cup. She finished 3rd in the 2017 Ricoh British Open, and 10th at the Evian Championship. She is currently #40 on the Rolex Rankings.

Image result for Nanna Koerstz madsen
Nanna Koertz Madsen won her maiden LET event at the Tipsport Golf Masters.
3- Nanna Koertz Madsen (22 / Denmark) - Nanna just tore up the Symetra tour last season. In just 13 events, she had 3 wins, 6 top fives, 8 top tens, and 11 top twenty-five finishes. Her spectacular strokes per round average of 69.69 led that tour. She has already won on the Ladies European Tour (LET). She represented Denmark in the 2016 Olympics. 

4- Hanna Green (21 / Australia) - Not as experienced as the three players I rated above her, and not as well known, but watch out for this young lady. In 20 starts on the Symetra Tour last season, Hannah had 3 wins, 9 top fives, 12 top tens, and 15 top twenty-five finishes. 

The Best of the Rest:
5- Yu Liu (21 / China) -  Liu was as consistent as anyone on the Symetra tour last year. In 21 starts she had 1 victory, 6 top fives, 9 top tens, and 15 top twenty-five finishes. 

6- Rebecca Artis (29 / Australia) - Many of my readers are probably familiar with this lady as she was a member of Team Australia in the 2016 UL International Crown. She has been a member of the LET since 2010, and has won twice on that tour. 

7- Katelyn Dambaugh (23 / USA) - She joined the Symetra Tour in June of 2017 as a 3 time All American who was the University of South Carolina's all time leader in career stroke average. She led all Symetra Tour players with a 1.76 average putts per greens in regulation. Although she played in just 12 events, she had 6 top tens, and 10 top twenty-five finishes. Her 70.30 scoring average was third best on tour.

They Could Surprise:
8- Emma Talley (23 / USA) - One of just 5 women to win both the NCAA (2015) and U.S. Women's Amateur (2013) titles. She had a solid year on the Symetra tour last season with one victory, four top fives, eight top tens, and 11 top twenty-fives. Her average driving distance of barely 245 yards (ranked 92nd) could be a major concern.

9- Lindsey Weaver (24 / USA) - A rookie on the Symetra tour last year, she got off to a slow start but then caught fire. She finished with 7 top tens in her last 10 starts. 

Image result for maddie mccrary golf
Maddie McCrary is my long shot pick.

Long Shot Pick:
Maddyie McCrary - I don't usually list a player here who doesn't enter the 2018 LPGA season with full time playing privileges. Having just conditional status means having to take full advantage of the few chances you might get, allowing you to move up on the LPGA Priority list during their player reshuffles that occur just twice during the season. It is a long shot. I am going to make an exception here, as she is an interesting story. Her parents, nor anyone in her family played golf at all. She has accomplished what she has due to her love of the game and incredible work ethic.  At this time last year, Maddie was recovering from "another hip surgery." In spite of that, last summer she was able to sink a 12 foot putt on the 17th hole to win the 96th Women's Texas Golf Association State Amateur Championship. She starts the season with a Priority List ranking of #168. But this is a feel good story, and one worth following. Don't count her out!

Other Tidbits:
Mariah Stackhouse took full advantage of her sponsor exemption at the Pure Silk LPGA Bahamas Classic, finishing tied for 11th place. This will help her get into many more tournaments when the LPGA has its first reshuffle. Unfortunatly for her though, the first reshuffle will not take place until after the 11th tournament of the season.

Stacy Lewis needed to birdie both the 17th and 18th hole in round two to make the cut. She did, extending her cut streak to 63 straight. Sung Hyun Park has the second longest streak at 31.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Danielle Kang moves up 3 spots to #17. Brittany Lincicome leaps up from #53 to #36, while Nelly Korda jumps up from #70 to #64. Further down the list Wei-Ling Hsu catapults up from #126 to #84.

Race to the CME Globe:   (1 million dollars)
Brittany Lincicome jumps out in front with 500 points. She is followed by Wei-Ling Hsu with 300. Amy Yang and Shanshan Feng share third place with 190 points.

Who's Hot:
Brittany Lincicome comes out of the gates with a victory. 

Who's Not:
In Kyung Kim, Brittany Lang, Yani Tseng, and Marina Alex all missed the cut.

This Week's Trivia Question:

How many different players occupied the number one spot on the Rolex Rankings in 2017? Can you name them?



Note: As you all can see, I have changed the look of this blog. Please take a moment to answer the poll question on the right side of the screen.


   (Currently 1,612 followers)
                                     



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

LPGA Player Profile - Natalie Gulbis

The player I have chosen this time around, may very well be in the twilight of her career, but has been a crowd favorite for many years. I have chosen:

NATALIE GULBIS
Born: 1/7/83 (36 years old)
Hometown: Sacramento Calif.
Resides: Lake, Las Vegas, Nev.
Rookie Year: 2002



Natalie has won once on the LPGA tour:

2007 Evian Masters

 Natalie has had many of her best finishes in Major Championships!

Best Finishes in Major Championships:
ANA Inspiration - Finished 3rd in 2006KPMG Women's PGA Championship - Finished 5th in 2005U.S. Women's Open - Finished 4th in 2005Ricoh British Open - Finished 9th in 2013The Evian Championship - Finished 52nd in 2013 (It was not a Major Championship when she won this event).

Career Stats:   (Updated through the 2018 season)

329 career starts238 cuts made (72.3%)37 top tens (11.2%)Has $4,898,508 in career earnings through the 2018 season (67th on the all time LPGA career money list).


Other Career Highlights: A three time U.S. Solheim Cup Team member (2005, 2…

LPGA Qualifying Tournament 2018 Final Stage - The Q-Series

The final stage of the LPGA qualifying tournament, the Q-Series, will begin this week.
A field of 102 players will be teeing it up.

At the 2017 CME Group Tour Championship, the LPGA first announced that Q-Series will replace LPGA Qualifying School Final Stage, which was previously held annually in Daytona Beach, Florida. 

Instead of 90 holes like the old Final Stage, the new Q-Series will be 144 holes. Players will compete in two, four-day tournaments with cumulative scores over the eight rounds for a $150,000 purse, which will be distributed at the end of the eight rounds.

The LPGA will debut the new Q-Series at the historic Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, North Carolina, which has hosted several prestigious tournaments including the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open. 
The first week of the LPGA Q-Series presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will be played on the George and Tom Fazio-designed Pinehurst Course No. 6 from Oct. 24-27, while the Q-Series will conclude on the Rees Jon…

Most Popular Photos of the Year - 2018

1/24/19 Bonus photos added at bottom of page.

As many of my readers know, my wife and I go to quite a few LPGA tournaments each year. Since 2009 we have gone to almost 60 events, including two in Scotland (St. Andrews being our favorite), and 8 Canadian Opens.

I do all the writing on here, and my wife (who is a schoolteacher) is my proofreader and takes many of the photos. 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 photos of 2018. 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.

#17
#16
#12

My Top Ten LPGA Blogs of All-Time

Let me start out today by saying that I am looking forward to next week when the LPGA resumes it's schedule for real this time. They will play four consecutive weeks before the next break that will take them back to the USA. 
Needless to say with all the off time, I have been running out of things to write about. 
This week is the 9th anniversary of my blogging about the LPGA!


Those of you that have been with me from the beginning will remember that the first 3 years I blogged for Mostly Harmless. I created Tony's LPGA Report in 2013.

Over that period of time I have published over 750 blogs. Most have turned out to be quite successful, some have fallen flat. But one thing that you can be sure of is that I have always tried my best to be the "go to" resource for up-to-date and accurate news about the LPGA.

I recently went back through all of my blogs and made a list of the ten most popular. The results were quite surprising. It seems like the pieces that I spend the most t…

Michelle Wie Gets Engaged!

Michelle Wie announced on Instagram last night that she is engaged to marry Jonnie West, the Golden State Warriors' director of basketball operations.





Jonnie is the son of NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West.



Wie, 29, a Punahou School and Stanford graduate, is a five-time winner on the LPGA Tour. West, 30, played basketball at West Virginia, his father’s alma mater. Wie, who has been recovering from hand surgery in October, is expected to play in the Lotte Championship, April 17-20, at Ko Olina.

This Week's Trivia Question:
Who was the only LPGA player to play in 30 events in 2018?

For the answer tothis week's trivia question press here.

KPMG Women's PGA Championship Preview

Congratulations go out to Anna Nordqvist for successfully defending her ShopRite Classic title. She came from behind, shooting a final round 64, which turned out to be one stroke better than runner-up Haru Nomura.



This week the LPGA travels to the state of Washington for the the playing of the KMPG Women's PGA Championship. This is the second Major Championship of the season. It is also the start of an extremely important part of the 2016 LPGA schedule that will include 3 Major Championships and the UL International Crown in the next 8 weeks.

This tournament was won last year in run-away fashion, when Inbee Park smoked the field by 5 strokes. She has won this championship 3 years in a row, and will be trying for a very rare four-peat. However, a recent injury to her thumb, will make that highly unlikely.


This will be tournament #16 of 33 on the 2016 LPGA schedule.
This will also be Major Championship #2 of 5 to be played in 2016.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Sahalee Country Club

118th U.S. Women's Amateur Championship Preview

The LPGA is taking a one week break this week before resuming their schedule in Indianapolis.

I would like to take this time to preview a very important USGA event that is taking place this week.

The 118th U.S. Women's Amateur Championship

Many of my readers may remember last year's championship when University of Texas senior Sophia Schubert, 21, of Oak Ridge, Tenn., became the first player over the age of 19 to win the championship in nine years with her 6-and-5 victory over Stanford sophomore Albane Valenzuela, of Switzerland, at San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista, Calif.

Here are the Key Details:
Championship Venue:  Golf Club of Tennessee
Location:  Kingston Springs, Tenn.
Architect:  Tom Fazio
Par:  71
Yardage: 6,275


Dates of Championship:  August 6-12
Field:  156 players
Eligibility: Any female amateur whose handicap index does not exceed 5.4
Defending Champion: Sophia Schubert
Winning Margin: 6 and 5 over runner-up Albane Valenzuela

Championship Field
A starting field o…