Three months have passed since I last did a report card on this year's rookies.
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 2013 season. Any successes or failures on other tours are not considered here. My only concern here is, are they safe for the upcoming season, or will they have to go back to qualifying school?
For those of you who might need some information on how the LPGA "Priority List" works, here is a brief explanation:
If you finish in the top 80 on the 2012 money list, that will be your priority rating for 2012. In other words, if a player finishes #45 on the money list this year, she will be #45 on the priority list next year. That also means she will be eligible for all tournaments, since even limited fields have more than 45 players.
It starts to get real tricky after that, as players finishing 81-100 on the money list and 1-20 in 2012 qualifying school, then alternate onto the priority list. The top 5 players from the Symetra Tour get ranked higher than this group.
If you finish outside the top 100 on the money list, your priority ranking will be so poor that you will not get into many events, or even lose your card. Many of these players will choose to go back to qualifying school to try to improve their ranking or even choose to play on another tour.
The above is a general explanation, as trying to list all the categories on the priority list is too time-consuming and potentially confusing. The official LPGA website explains it in more detail. [As do I at the start of every season! --TC]
I have broken down the rookies into 5 categories, based on their chances of retaining cards, and/or a chance at a good priority rating, for next year.
Very Secure1- So Yeon Ryu - Runaway leader in the rookie of the year race, she has already reached elite status. Her missed cut in last week's Canadian Open was the first of her career. Her eight top-5 finishes are second only to Stacy Lewis. Already number 12 in the Rolex Rankings and climbing, she is #9 on the money list.
2- Lexi Thompson - Currently in the first mini-slump of her career, Lexi is still having a fine rookie season.
This young 17 year old has made 11 of 15 cuts this year. She has 2 top-5 finishes, including a second place.
Currently ranked number 26 in the world, that ranking would qualify her for next year's Solheim Cup. She is currently #29 on the money list.
3- Sydnee Michaels - After just a so-so start, Sydnee has been the hottest rookie on tour the past month. Her seventh-place finish at The Safeway Classic was her first career top ten. She was in contention last week, playing in the next-to-last pairing in Vancouver, before a triple bogey on the 70th hole resulted in a 15th-place finish. She has rocketed all the way up to #62 on the money list and is looking good for next year's U.S. Open, which takes the top 70. One of the longest hitters on tour, she has all the tools to be a star. For now it is nice to know that her card is secure for 2013.
4- Lizette Salas - I have to admit I had no idea who she was at the start of the year. I know who she is now. Although she has never been in contention this year, her best finish being 12th place, she has secured her card by making 10 of 12 cuts.
5- Mo Martin - Another pleasant surprise, Mo will be around next year because she has made 8 cuts in 12 attempts. Her 14th-place finish at the Walmart Classic is her best to date. Currently resides at #63 on this year's money list.
6- Danielle Kang - It has been an interesting year for Danielle. Her poor performance in Q-School last year gave her a priority ranking of #263, which was the worst ranking of any active player. She made the most of her few opportunities early in the year and, when the priority rankings reshuffles were complete, improved to #135. That allowed her to enter all full-field events where she has made 7 of 11 cuts. Her best finish was 14th at the U.S. Open. We will be seeing plenty more of her next year as she is currently #66 on the money list.
7- Veronica Felibert - Veronica has proved this year that you can have a very poor season, but because of one good finish, still retain your card. She has made only 3 cuts in 9 attempts, but a 4th-place finish at the Walmart Classic earned her enough money to be out there again next year. Oddly enough, her second-best finish is 50th place. She is currently #69 on the money list.
Looking Very Good
8- Numa Gulyanamita - In an up and down year so far, Numa has made 7 of 14 cuts. Her best finish is 21st at the U.S. Open. At #82 on the money list, Numa has more work to do to achieve full-time status.
9- Maude-Aimee Leblanc - Maude-Aimee was having a fine year, missing only 3 cuts, when a serious back injury ended her season. Maude leads the LPGA in driving distance, averaging 280 yards. She was #68 on the money list when the injury occurred, but has now dropped to #95. It shouldn't matter, as she should receive a medical exemption that will allow her to retain her full time playing privileges next season. Watch out for her; she could be a real sleeper.
10- Carlota Ciganda - Will be the rookie of the year this year, just not on this tour. Playing mostly on the L.E.T., Carlota has only 2 starts this year. She played well enough in both to be #94 on the money list. A good finish in the British Open, which counts on both tour's money lists, would elevate her LPGA status, and maybe we will see more of her next year.
On the Borderline
11- Jane Rah - Jane has made just 3 of 13 cuts this year, but a 9th-place finish at last week's CN Open has saved her. Currently #91 on the money list, she will be playing next year. How much she will be playing still has to be determined. Only 2 of the remaining 9 LPGA tournaments are full field, so she will not get many opportunities. Her CN Open finish qualified her for the Titleholders Championship, which could be the difference.
12- Jacqui Concolino - It has been all or nothing for Jacqui this year. She has made only 3 of 8 cuts, but has 2 top-15 finishes. Currently #96 on the money list she still has work to do and very little time to do it.
13- Sandra Changkija - Her 10th-place finish at the Manulife Classic seems like years ago. She has made only 3 of 12 cuts this year. Currently #110 on the money list, she will probably need a top-20 finish to avoid going to Q-School.
Not Looking Good
14- Cydney Clanton - Cydney started well, finishing in 19th place at the Australian Open. She hasn't come close to that finish since. She has made only 4 of 13 cuts and with only 2 starts left needs a big finish. She is currently #118 on the money list.
15- Victoria Tanco - I, for one, expected better from her this season. Victoria has made just 4 of 13 cuts, and her #121 money list ranking tells me she needs a quick top 10 to avoid Q-School again.
16- Hannah Yun - Her best finish this year was a 30th place at the Kia Classic. Hannah has made just 3 of 12 cuts and her #122 money list ranking has her in trouble.
17- Rebecca Lee Bentham - Rebecca hasn't had a good tournament all year. She not only has missed 8 of 12 cuts, but her best finish is 47th place. At #131 on the money list, she needs a miracle.
18- Kathleen Ekey - Kathleen has not gotten it together all year. She has missed 9 of 12 cuts, with 45th place her best finish. She is currently #140 on the money list. One of my favorite players, it looks like I will be watching her Q-School results this December.
The following rookies have little or no chance of retaining their playing cards for next year. Qualifying school is definitely in their future.
Min Seo Kwak - Missed 4 of 5 cuts. 144th on money list.
Karlin Beck - Missed 10 of 12 cuts. 147th on money list.
P.K. Kongkraphan - Tied for 67th in her only start. 148th on money list.
Elisa Serramia - Missed 11 of 12 cuts. 152nd on money list.
Valentine Derrey - Missed 1 of 2 cuts. 156th on money list.
Lacey Agnew - Missed 4 of 5 cuts. 157th on money list
Tze-Chi Lin - Missed 1 of 2 cuts. 158th on money list.
Stephanie Kono - Totally overmatched, missing all 12 cuts.
Hanna Kang - Missed all 6 cuts.
Katy Harris - Missed all 4 cuts.
Mi Hyang Lee - Missed all 3 cuts.
Kirby Dreher - Missed all 3 cuts.
Mitsuki Katahira - Missed both her cuts.
Thidapa Suwannapura - Never teed it up. Will play this week for first time.
Julia Murcia Ortiz - Will tee it up this week for first time.