Friday, January 30, 2009

2009 LPGA Preview: Mostly Harmless Sleepers and Wild Cards

Having essentially extended my projected LPGA top 30 to a top 50 the last 2 posts, I still believe there are more players with a chance to crack the top 30 in 2009. Here's my list of top sleepers and wild cards for 2009 (excluding players who are expecting like Maria Hjorth, Catriona Matthew, Mhairi McKay, and Gloria Park):

1. Anja Monke: one of the hottest players in the world at the very end of the '08 season; can she sustain her momentum in '09?
2. Sarah Lee: great in '07, hurt in '08...back in '09?
3. Sandra Gal: had better stats than results in her rookie she due for a super sophomore campaign?
4. Juli Inkster: can the Hall of Famer close out her fantastic career with a successful stretch run heading into her last Solheim Cup?
5. Laura Davies: does she have those last 2 LPGA wins in her? or could she get into the LPGA Hall of Fame the quick way, with a win in a major?
6. Pat Hurst: why not a repeat of her million-dollar '06 season in '09?
7. Young Kim: has the swing to contend any week...
8. Shi Hyun Ahn: always plays a limited schedule, but if she keeps putting as well as she has...
9. Kyeong Bae: a birdie machine her 1st 2 seasons; was '08 a blip?
10. Giulia Sergas: one of the best Euros on tour...poised for a quantum leap in '09?
11. Alena Sharp: she's got some up-and-coming competition for best Canadian on tour--how will she respond?
12. H.J. Choi: a real fighter...
13. Grace Park: wouldn't you love to see her come back in '09 from her back troubles? [Update (9:36 am): The rumor mill is cranking on her pre-season preparations over at Seoul!]
14. Rachel Hetherington: another great player from earlier in the decade who's struggled in recent years...end of the line or time for a comeback?
15. Carin Koch: another one of the elite from a few years back and another mom on tour who showed signs of her former greatness in '08.
16. Helen Alfredsson: speaking of comebacks, as long as her back stays healthy, why shouldn't she continue her brilliant (if rather inconsistent) play and remain one of the toughest closers on tour in '09?
17. Mika Miyazato: wouldn't it be cool for the other Miyazato from Okinawa to have a great 1st season as a pro and validate her skipping the JLPGA, unlike most of her cohort of up-and-coming Japanese stars?
18. M.J. Hur: her only problem was closing strong on Sundays in '08 on the Futures Tour; would love to be the Angela Park of the rookie class....
19. Mindy Kim: won 3x on the FT in '08, so could surprise in '09 in the big leagues...
20. Brittany Lincicome: reached depths in '08 few golf writers (or bloggers, for that matter) would have believed at the end of '07; why not a comeback in '09?
21. Jennifer Rosales: her official story is that injuries have hurt her game the last several years; fighting for her card in '09....
22. Aree Song: she's been fighting a serious illness the last couple of years--it would be awesome to see her come back!
23. Louise Stahle: the former LET rookie of the year has full playing privileges on the LPGA in '09--is she finally ready for prime time?
24. Na On Min: fantastic '07 with limited starts, but struggled in '08...
25. Reilley Rankin: always seems to be threatening to break through, but still hasn't quite yet....
26. Birdie Kim: showed some signs of life in '08; aims to avoid "Korean Hilary Lunke" tag....
27. Ashleigh Simon: will she finally come into her own in '09, now that she has full LPGA playing privileges?
28. Charlotte Mayorkas: is she ready to break through in '09?
29. Moira Dunn: I'm hoping my childhood friend will keep her card for '10!
30. Anna Rawson: come on--you would have been watching for her, even if I didn't put her on this list, right? it'll be interesting to see how her 1st full year on the LPGA turns out....

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