As we all know by now the 2011 LPGA season has come to its conclusion. It is time to take one final look at the 28 rookie players. These ratings are strictly based on how they fared on the LPGA tour this season. Any successes or failures on other tours are not considered here. Success in retaining their LPGA tour cards was the determining factor for my final grades.
Hee Kyung Seo - Playing in 21 tournaments, she missed just 3 cuts this year. Her #21 finish on the money list, and three top tens, made her a runaway winner of the Rookie of the Year award. Her best performance was a 2nd-place finish (a playoff loss) at the U.S. Open.
Ryann O'Toole - When she was good, she was very good. When she was bad, she was awful. It was a very erratic season, but certainly had its success stories. Playing 15 times, Ryann missed 4 cuts. She had 2 top-ten finishes, including 9th at the U.S. Open. Finishing #46 on the money list, her year was highlighted by being chosen as a captain's pick for the U.S. Solheim Team. She did not lose a match there, going 2-0-2.
Tiffany Joh - Teeing it up 14 times, Tiffany missed just 2 cuts. Her 2nd-place finish at the Navistar Classic was her only top 10. She finished #41 on the money list, and, with the 2 ladies listed above her, will be playing full time next year.
Caroline Hedwall - Those rookies who will say they never had a chance because of lack of playing opportunities should read this. Caroline, a category 20 rookie, teed it up just 6 times. She did not miss a single cut. She tied for 9th at the Evian Masters and was a captain's pick for the European Solheim cup team. My guess is she will be playing both the LPGA and LET tours next year. Her #64 spot on the LPGA money list means she can play here whenever she chooses.
Consider them a success
Christel Boeljon - Played very little on the LPGA tour the first half of the season, as her first priority was to gather points for the European Solheim team. Once that goal was accomplished, she came on very strongly. She missed just 2 of 14 cuts, and had two top-ten finishes. She finished #52 on the money list. Look for her to play both tours again next year.
Jenny Shin - Playing 15 times, she very quietly put together a very solid season. Making 10 of 15 cuts, she had 2 top-ten finishes. Her #55 money list finish tells me she will be teeing it up 20-plus times next year.
Jennifer Johnson - Jennifer teed it up 13 times this year and missed just 3 cuts. Her 8th-place finish at the Navistar Classic went a big way towards her #63 money-list finish. She will be playing full time next year.
Just good enough
Belen Mozo - Got off to a terrible start by missing 7 of her first 9 cuts. It didn't really get a lot better after that, either, but a big check for finishing 5th at the Walmart Championship saved her season. A 67th place finish on the money list assures her full-time status next year.
Jennifer Song - Making just 10 of 16 cuts, Jennifer was my biggest disappointment this year. Expected by many to be a Rookie of the Year contender, it wasn't to be. Her best finish was 16th place at the Avnet Classic. She barely made the top 80, sneaking in at #79. A future star, or a bust? Maybe next year will give us some answers.
Jessica Korda - She did not make the most of her 15 opportunities this year. Missing seven cuts, she could do no better than #92 on the money list. Her only good showing was a 19th-place finish at Avnet. Missing the top 80, she won't get many more opportunities next year. A big talent, I look for her to improve in 2012.
The above ten rookies are the only ladies we are guaranteed to see regularly next year. Here is a breakdown of the other 18.
Just Not Good Enough
Haru Nomura - Played 11 times this year, and missed 5 cuts. A 25th-place finish at the Walmart Championship was her best finish. Finishing #94 on the money list, and choosing not to go back to Q-School, she will have to make the most of her limited opportunities next year to retain her card.
Stephanie Sherlock - Missing 7 of 12 cuts, she finished #101 on the money list. Rather than settle for limited status next year, she will be going back to Q-School at the end of the month, in an effort to improve her priority status.
Will we ever see them again?
Amelia Lewis - One would think that finishing #109 on the money list, would drive her back to Q-School. That was not the case. If she continues to play, expect her to only get a few starts.
Becky Brewerton - Played only twice on the LPGA this year, missing the cut both times. Played poorly in Q-School last year, she is not attending in November. She will only be a LET member next year.
They are going back to Q-School
Danah Ford Bordner - Missed 8 of 12 cuts this year. Her best finish was 50th place. She finished #114 on the money list.
Jennie Lee - Missed the cut in half of her 10 appearances. Finished #118 on money list.
Jenny Suh - Missed 6 of 10 cuts, which landed her at #120.
Dori Carter - Also missed the cut in 6 out of 10 tournaments. Finished #128.
Jaclyn Sweeney - Teed it up eight times this year, but did not take advantage of her opportunities, missing all but one cut. She finished #137 on the money list.
Sara Brown - She got some chances to show her Big Break fans she was ready for the big time. Unfortunately she missed her first 8 cuts, and could finish no better than tied for 48th. She finished the year #141.
Kimberley Kim, Allison Whitaker, and Shasta Averyhardt - It could not have gone worse for these three girls, as each of them teed it up seven times and never made a single cut.
Stephanie Kim - Played in only 2 tournaments, missing one cut and finished 44th in the other.
Jodi Ewart - Missed the cut in both events she played in.
Sarah Brown, Junko Nakada, and Ayako Kaneko - Category 20 rookies, they never teed it up at all this year. They will be hoping to get a better priority rating next year, by going to Q-School in November.
As you can see 2011 will not go down as a big success for rookies. Looking ahead to 2012, the possibilities for better results look very favorable. Here are a few possible rookie stars:
Lexi Thompson - No need to say much about her. A potential superstar and already a winner in 2011.
So-Yeon Ryu - Won the U.S. Open this year as a non-LPGA player. Already ranked #28 in the world, many will consider her the Rookie of the Year favorite.
Kathleen Ekey - With her #1 finish on the Futures Tour this year, Kathleen has secured her spot as a full time player on the LPGA Tour. Both fans and sponsors are going to love this girl.
Danielle Kang - Winner of 2 consecutive U.S. Amateur Championships. Has all the tools to be a huge star. The only thing keeping me from putting her higher on this list is she has to make it through phase 3 of Q-School this month. Shouldn't be a problem.