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Rating the 2018 Rookies - Final Analysis

Let me start off by saying that 2018 was not a very strong year for LPGA rookies when compared to other rookie seasons this past decade. When looking over the rookie roster last January (before the 2018 season started), this much was obvious.
  • Jin Young Ko was the obvious favorite to win rookie honors. She had already won as a non member on the LPGA Tour, and was a ten time winner on the KLPGA.
  • Georgia Hall was the only player who might give Ko a bit of competition for top rookie.
  • Nanna Koertz Madsen and Hannah Green both tore up the Symetra Tour in 2017, winning three times each.
  • Emma Talley, Yu Liu, and Rebecca Artis, appeared to be the "best of the rest", but were certainly not a sure thing.
As it turned out there weren't many big surprises and even players listed above failed to produce.

There were thirty rookies on the LPGA Tour in 2018, and only seven of those players managed to retain their 2019 LPGA playing privileges based on their 2018 tournament results. A finish in the top 100 on the year end money list was required.

Let's see how 2018 ranks by percentage when compared to previous years:
  • 2015 - 19 of 33 = 57.6%
  • 2014 - 14 of 29 = 46.4%
  • 2012 - 12 of 33 = 36.3%
  • 2017 - 13 of 37 = 35.1%
  • 2016 -   9 of 29 = 31.0%
  • 2018 -   7 of 30 = 23.3%
  • 2013 -   8 of 35 = 22.8%
Now if we rank them by number of players who succeeded in keeping their cards:
  • 2015 - 19
  • 2014 - 14
  • 2017 - 13
  • 2012 - 12
  • 2016 -  9
  • 2013 -  8
  • 2018 -  7
As you can see it was not a good year at all.

Below are my ratings for all 2018 LPGA rookies. These ratings are strictly based on how they fared on the LPGA tour this season. Any successes or failures on other tours, excluding the Symetra Tour, are not considered here. Success in retaining their 2019 LPGA playing card, based on their 2018 LPGA play was my determining factor for my final ratings.

Image result for jin young ko
As predicted, Jin Young Ko was the winner of the 2018 Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year award.

The Best:
1- Jin Young Ko - As predicted before the season started, Ko was by far the most outstanding rookie. She won the first tournament she entered (ISPS Handa Women's Australia Open), and although she never won again, she had five top 5 finishes and thirteen top tens. She missed just one cut all year in 25 starts. Her scoring average of 69.8 was third best on tour. She finished #10 in the LPGA money list.

2- Georgia Hall - Georgia had a fine season of her own, and was the only rookie to win a Major Championship (Ricoh Women's British Open). She finished the year #21 on the year end money list. Her challenge to become the top rookie went down the waste side when she chose not to play any of the five tournaments on the Asian swing. She entered just 19 tournaments all year. She is currently #8 in the Rolex Rankings, which very strangely is two spots better than Jin Young Ko.

Strong Rookie Season:
3- Emma Talley - Emma played a lot of golf in 2018, and faded some towards the end of the season. That did not diminish what she accomplished the first 3/4 of the year. She had back to back top five finishes last July, at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic (3rd) and the Marathon Classic (5th). She also finished 5th at the HUGEL-JTBC LA open, and 7th at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open. She finished the year at #52 on the money list.

4- Yu Liu - One of the real pleasant surprises. Liu had three top ten finishes. She was very consistent throughout the year as she placed in the top 25 ten times. Her 70.97 scoring average ranked 30th on the LPGA. 

Consider Them a Success:
5- Hannah Green - Hannah kept her playing card this year by making the cut in 14 of 24 events. She had one top ten finish and four top twenty-fives. Her scoring average of 72.33 (105rd) must improve next year. She finished the year #73 on the money list, so we will be seeing her next year.

6- Maria Torres - After missing the cut in nine of her first 12 tournaments, Maria turned things around late in the season. Two top tens moved her up the money list where she finished at #76. She also must improve on her 72.26 scoring average (102nd) if she wants to stay on the LPGA Tour. 

7- Brittany Marchand - Brittany didn't get to play much the first part of the season as she had a very poor Priority List ranking. When she got her chance she jumped on it and improved that ranking as the year went on, resulting in getting into many more events. She missed only four cuts in seventeen events, and her 71.38 scoring average (47th) tells us she may be someone to keep our eyes on. 

The following rookies did not finish in the top 100 on the money list and had to go back to Q-school and/or The Q-SERIES to try and earn back their playing privileges for 2019. They were successful there and will be playing next year on the LPGA Tour.
  1. Tiffany Chan
  2. Lauren Coughlin
  3. Gemma Dryburgh
  4. Nanna Koertz Madsen
  5. Maddie McCrary
  6. Lori Beth Adams
The following rookies did not finish in the top 100 on the money list and did not earn back their full time playing privileges for the 2019 season:
  1. Rebecca Artis
  2. Luna Sobron Galmes
  3. Robynn Ree
  4. Kassidy Teare
  5. Erynne Lee
  6. Lindsey Weaver
  7. Katelyn Dambaugh
  8. Leticia Ras-Anderica
  9. Samantha Troyonavich
  10. Martina Edberg
  11. Alexandra Newell
  12. Camilla Lennarth
  13. Harang Lee
  14. Allison Emrey
  15. Katelyn Sepmoree
  16. Mind Muangkhumsakul
  17. Jennifer Hahn
This Week's Trivia Question: 
Nine players won their first LPGA tournament in 2018. How many can you name?

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


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