Many of us have been following the LPGA's elite on their early-season Asian swing and their exodus onto the LET/ALPG and JLPGA, but Hound Dog wonders about the LPGA's rank-and-file and the consequences of being shut out of money-making opportunities at the start of the season. Well, check out the results of the 5 Cactus Tour events that have been completed thus far, as well as their money list (as of event #4). Ditto for the current action on the SunCoast Series, along with their (more recently-updated) money list. Sure, the winnings are much smaller than on the big tours, but when you factor in the money saved on international travel, those who have played well on the mini-tours haven't done all that badly for themselves. And when you break down the LPGA's money list, you'll find that Ai Miyazato is the only player to have earned more than $200K, Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr, Ya Ni Tseng, and Song-Hee Kim are the only players to have joined her in breaking the $100K barrier, it only takes $15K to knock Stacy Prammanasudh out of the #40 spot, and #56 Michele Redman has a whopping $3,354 lead on everyone else.
Meanwhile, Pernilla Lindberg has taken a big lead on the LET Rookie of the Year race and will be looking to extend it at the Women's Australian Open this week, but even after the tour's 3-event Down Under swing comes to a close, most of the relatively small number of LETers who got into those events won't have all that large a lead on their competitors who couldn't.
The bottom line is that 2 or 3 bad results aren't much of an improvement on not playing at all. Sure, by playing more often you get more chances to get that 1 good or great result that can make your season or catapult you to the next level. But these days you have to take advantage of every opportunity you get to play. Whether you get into 20 or 15 or 10 or 5 events, everyone else is struggling to maximize their playing time and their results the same as you. With so few events and purses down in so many of them, we could see the lowest #80 and #100 thresholds on the LPGA money list in a long time. In a race to, say, $100K (a ballpark estimate for #80 because the LPGA still hasn't given me access to their media center and I haven't had time to do the math on my own), every little bit counts, but it's the big chunks of change that make the biggest difference. We'll see who can handle that kind of pressure in a few weeks!