LPGA.com has a (sometimes-badly-transcribed) list of the 33 members of the LPGA Class of 2012, the 1st members of what I'm calling for now the tour's "Prodigy" generation. Here are some quick thoughts on how I'd categorize their short- and medium-term potential, irrespective of their place on next season's priority status list.
This is a new category for me, comprising players who could step up in their rookie year and not only immediately join the tour's super-elite, but also bring new buzz to the LPGA because of the historic nature of their achievements. Looking over my overviews of the rookie classes of 2006 through 2011, and particularly my pre-season prediction posts before their rookie years began, I'd say that only Ai Miyazato and Ji-Yai Shin came onto the LPGA with expectations as sky-high as those for Lexi Thompson, and only Michelle Wie brought as much buzz from the American golfy media as she has. Even though Lexi's record before joining the LPGA is not nearly as impressive as Miyazato's and Shin's--both had more than proven themselves on their original home tours, the JLPGA and KLPGA, respectively, and Shin had 3 LPGA wins, including a major, before her rookie year actually began--still, given that Lexi's an awesomely-talented American teenager who earned her way onto the tour with an impressive win at the Navistar Classic, and given that she may yet avoid the growing pains and backlash that Wie has endured, there's a good chance that she may even live up to the hype surrounding her in 2012. Like maybe 20%. That's optimistic for me. Of the 3 players in this category before Lexi, only Shin lived up to the hype in her rookie season.
So Yeon Ryu
This is my usual top category, the place I put Jennifer Song and Hee Kyung Seo last year, Amanda Blumenherst, Azahara Munoz, and Pernilla Lindberg the year before, Stacy Lewis, Shiho Oyama, and Vicky Hurst in 2009, and Momoko Ueda, Hee Young Park, Ya Ni Tseng, and Na Yeon Choi in 2008. If I had been doing that sort of thing for the Class of 2007 back when I 1st started LPGA blogging, I'd like to think I would have identified Song-Hee Kim, Eun-Hee Ji, and Jane Park, and maybe In-Kyung Kim and Inbee Park, while for the Class of 2006, I would hope I'd have put Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lang and maybe even Seon Hwa Lee in it. In other words, it's where I put my top prospects from other tours (including the Futures Tour) and from the NCAA.
This is the category in which I place super-talented young golfers whom I think may take a little bit of time to rise to the level of LPGA competition but who nevertheless have great shots at earning their 2013 cards via the top 80 of the 2012 money list. It may not happen for all of them--Jessica Korda from 2011, Pernilla Lindberg from 2010, Mindy Kim from 2009, Amy Yang from 2008, and Song-Hee Kim and Jane Park from 2007 are probably the most prominent recent examples of hot young things who struggled in their rookie seasons--but it should happen for more than half of them. And any of them could contend for top honors in their class in the long run.
Raised Expectations Elsewhere
This is the category in which I place Futures Tour standouts whom I can't justify placing in a higher category, along with players who did really well on other developmental tours, at Q-School, or both. It's hard to tell whether they just peaked at the right time or whether they'll build in 2012 on their earlier successes. But they each have a decent shot of making the top 100 on the LPGA money list and avoiding Q-School in 2012. And some may surprise on the upside. If enough of them turn out to be good enough to keep on keeping their LPGA cards over the next 5 years, this may end up being the deepest class in recent tour history.
Something of a Surprise
Juliana Murcia Ortiz
Min Seo Kwak
Mi Hyang Lee
These are the players who, frankly speaking, I didn't expect to be in this rookie class. I hate to say it, but odds are most of them will have to prove themselves in next year's Q-School all over again. I hope they prove me wrong!