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Rating the 2019 LPGA Rookies - Part 2.

It has been 3 months since I last did a report card on this year's rookies. At that time the LPGA had only played 11 tournaments, they have now completed 23 events. So much has changed. 

The Year 2018 was a very poor year for LPGA rookies. Only seven out of thirty rookies finished in the top 100 on the LPGA money list and retained their full time playing privileges. It appears that this year's rookies should top that number.

I would like to change this up a bit this time, by strictly rating these girls on their chances of retaining LPGA cards for the 2019 season. Any successes or failures on other tours (except Symetra Tour) are not considered here. My only concern here is, are they safe for the 2020 season, or will they have to participate in the Q-Series to earn back their playing privileges.

The LPGA Qualifying Tournament will be held in 3 stages with the final stage being named  "The Q-School Series". The Q-Series will be made up of  two four round tournaments scheduled in back to back weeks, with cumulative scores used over eight rounds.

If a player finishes in the top 100 on the 2019 year end money list, they will retain their playing privileges for 2020. If they finish between 101st and 150th they will most likely have to participate (and be successful) in the Q-Series to have playing privileges in 2020. All players that finish in the top 10 on the final 2019 Symetra Tour money list will earn full time playing cards in 2020, and avoid having to participate in the Q-Series.

For the twenty-seven 2019 LPGA rookies that I will be rating today, obviously their aim is to finish in the top 100 on the year's money list, thus avoiding having to participate in the Q-series.

Related image
Jeongeun Lee6 holds up her U.S. Women's Open trophy.

Very Secure:
1- Jeongeun Lee6 -  No surprise hereWe thought she would be the best rookie, and thus far she certainly is. Her 69.68 scoring average is not only the best of any rookie, but the 4th best on tour. She is the only rookie to win a tournament this year, and she made it a huge one, the U.S. Women's Open! She currently is No. 2 on this year's money list.

2- Jennifer Kupcho - Jennifer did not play the first 5 months of the year as she was getting her college degree. The fact that she is the second highest rookie on this year's money list speaks volumes of what she is capable of doing in a full season. Her second place finish at the Evian Championship and 5th place finish at the Marathon Classic have been the keys to her current position at No. 37 on the year's money list. 

3- Kristen Gillman - Kristen has had a very solid and consistent season thus far this year. She has made 13 of 17 cuts, and has three top ten and seven top twenty-five finishes. Her 70.63 scoring average is excellent. She is currently No. 51 on the money list.

4- Pajaree Anannarukarn - A name that most people are not familiar with. Don't let that fool you. She did not get into many events the first part of the season because of a poor Priority Ranking, but took full advantage of the few times she did play. She got to play much more regularly when the LPGA had its first reshuffle. She has now teed it up 13 times this year and has missed just two cuts. Her 70.62 scoring average ranks her 24th best on the LPGA Tour. She is currently risen all the way to No.67 on the money list and climbing. 

Looking Very Good:

1- Charlotte Thomas - Charlotte got off to a red hot start this year finishing in second place in her very first start of the season at the ISPS Handa Vic Open. She followed that up with a sixth place finish two weeks later. She has not played well since. In fact in her last 15 starts she has not finished better than 28th and has missed nine cuts. Her scoring average of 72.54 (117th) is not good. That said, she did enough early in the year that her 73rd place standing on the money list has her looking very good for playing on the tour next year.

2- Sarah Schmelzel - A very pleasant surprise. Sarah has made 13 of 19 cuts this year. She has had three top 18 finishes, and her 71.94 scoring average is decent if not spectacular. She is currently No. 74 on the money list.

3- Linnea Strom - Another player that we might not have thought would be ranked this high. Linnea has had four top 25 finishes, topped by her 5th place at the Marathon Classic. Her 72.06 scoring average (96th) might need to come down a bit but her placement on this year's money list (75th) tells us we should be seeing her again next year.

4- Ann Van Dam - Ann leads the LPGA tour with a driving average of 285 yards. It's the rest of her game that we will have to watch. Her 6th place finish this past week at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open, is the only reason she is up this high on the list. Her 71.45 (61st) is good enough, and she has made 11 of 17 cuts. She is 78th on the money list and we should be seeing her next year.

5- Lauren Stephenson - After a fast start to the season she has slowed down some, missing the cut in her last three starts. She does have a top ten finish and three top twenties. Her scoring average of 71.49 tells us she belongs here and her standing of 84th on the money list means she will get another chance next year.

6- Maria Fassi - Like Jennifer Kupcho above, Maria stayed in school and missed the first five months of the LPGA season. Unfortunately she has not yet had the same success that Kupcho has achieved. Still, her 12th place finish at the U.S. Women's Open (which has the biggest purse of the year) landed her a big chunk of the prize money. She still might have to make another cut or two to assure full time status in 2020, a goal that she should achieve. 

On the Borderline:
1- Elizabeth Szokel - Elizabeth's 6th place finish this past weeek at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open has saved her season, and has her back in the fight to retain her playing privileges for next season. Her scoring average of 71.78 (81st) is ok, but her current standing of 103rd on the money list must improve. 

Not Looking Good:
1- Cheyenne Knight - Cheyenne has been somewhat of an enigma. Her scoring average og 71.51 (64th) tells us she is more than good enough to make it on the LPGA tour. Yet that isn't the case as she finds herself in serious trouble of having to go back to the Q-Series. She has a knack of just missing cuts, and has made just 8 of 15. She is going to have just a few more chances to improve her 117th place on the money list.

2- Alana Uriell - Another player with puzzling statistics. Her scoring average of 71.48 is better than most players on the LPGA Tour. In fact, it ranks 62nd of the 180 ranked players. Unfortunately, she ranks No. 119 on the money list. Part of the reason for her low money list standing is that she has played in just 12 events this year because of a poor priority ranking. Her 9th place finish a few weeks back at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic tells me that given the chance, she is a very good player.

3- Louise Ridderstrom - Another player that started the year with a bad priority ranking and had to wait for the reshuffle to get to play. She has teed it up just 12 times this year and made just five cuts. Her scoring average of 71.77 (79th) is not all that bad, but her 123rd place on the money list is. She will have a few more chances to get inside the top 100, or we will be checking her Q-Series scores later this year.

Looking Dismal:
The following players have not cut it in the big time this year. Some have had many chances, and some very few. With just a few full field tournaments left on the LPGA schedule, it is more than likely that they will have to participate in the Q-series and be successful there to be able to tee it up in 2020. (In alphabetical order)
1- Sarah Burnham - Has made just 3 of 11 cuts and is 146th on money list.
2- Robyn Choi - Made just 2 of 10 cuts, 169th on money list.
3- Youngin Chun - Made just 6 of 14 cuts, 129th on money list.
4- Isa Gabsa - made 7 of 16 cuts, 135 on money list.
5- Clariss Guce - Has made 8 of 13 cuts but is 136th on money list.
6- Jenny Haglund - has made just 3 of 15 cuts and is 155th on money list.
7- Muni He - Made 6 of 14 cuts, 142nd on money list.
8- Becca Huffer - Made just 1 cut in 14 events and is 179th on money list.
9- Jaclyn Lee - Made 4 of 13 cuts, 140th on money list.
10- Ruixin Liu - Has made just 3 of 15 cuts and ranks 131st on money list.
11- Klara Spilkova - Made just 3 of 11 cuts, 148th on money list.
12- Lilia Vu - Has made just 1 of 9 cuts, 175th on money list.
13- Suzuka Yamaguchi - Has made 3 of 15 cuts and is 147th on money list.

There you have it. I will revisit this subject at season's end.

This Week's Trivia Question: 
There are only three players on the LPGA Tour who have not missed a cut this entire season. Can you name them? 


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