Like 2013, this year I will do a countdown of the top money list leaders from both the WTA and LPGA. Last year I did the top 30, but this year I will do the top 25. Note that as of this post, the retired Li Na has been removed from the WTA website money list rankings, but I will include her here. Thus, some WTA players will be off by one position on my list compared to the WTA website list. Also, Hyo Joo Kim is not on my LPGA list due to not being a member this year. I’m certain she will be on the list in the future. For the WTA, singles, doubles and mixed are combined for this top 25. Number 14 on this money list for each tour are Dominika Cibulkova (WTA) and Mi-Rim Lee (LPGA).
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA (Slovakia)
2014 Official WTA Prize Money: $1,998,734
Best Results: WINNER Abierto Mexicano Telcel; RUNNER-UP Australian Open, BMW Malaysian Open; SF Sony Open; QF Brisbane International, BNP Parisbas Open, Toray Pan Pacific Open
It was certainly a tale of two seasons in 2014 for Dominika Cibulkova. From January through April, it was clearly the best of times…maybe the greatest four month stretch in her career. She reached three finals, including her first Major final at the Australian Open. She won the title in Acapulco. Arguably the three biggest tournaments before the clay court season begins are the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami. In fact, you could make the case that before Roland Garros, even including the big clay court events, the top tournaments are still Miami, Indian Wells and Melbourne. Domi reached the final at Melbourne, the semis at Miami and the quarters at Indian Wells. If Li Na had retired in 2013 instead of this season who knows how much more special the early part of the year would have been for Domi. Li Na knocked Cibulkova out of all three events. Maybe Domi would be a Major champion were it not for facing the Chinese superstar. Nevertheless, it was all flowing for Cibulkova…and then the calendar turned to May. Starting with the Mutua Madrid Open through the rest of the year, Domi was 1 and done, failing to win a single match, in 9 tournaments…including a shocking loss to 15-year old CiCi Bellis in the first round of the US Open. After April, Cibulkova reached 1 more quarter, at the Toray Pan Pacific Open. Elsewhere, she was usually a first or second round casualty. Normally, I would lament such a Jekyll and Hyde season, but Domi did so much…she was so good…through April that I have to applaud this season as a tremendous success. Sure, it didn’t end as she would have liked. But she is an undersized player who had enough huge results to last the year. Put it this way, if you told most players they would be in 3 finals including a Major, win a tournament, and go deep at Indian Wells, Miami and Tokyo…beat Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep, Venus Williams and Agnieszka Radwankska twice…the vast majority of players would call that a superb season. It was.
MI-RIM LEE (South Korea)
2014 Official LPGA Prize Money: $933,849
Best Results: WINNER (2) Meijer LPGA Classic, Reignwood LPGA Classic; T6 Wegmans LPGA Championship, T2 Founders Cup
Social Media: Facebook
Ok, so let me tell you about this terrific 2014 LPGA Rookie who ended her season holding multiple trophies and ranking among the best players on tour. No, no…this one isn’t named Lydia. Mi-Rim Lee (commonly written as Mirim Lee…I use Mi-Rim as it helps to stay closer to actual pronunciation) brought her winning ways to the LPGA in 2014, capturing the Meijer LPGA Classic and the Reignwood LPGA Classic. The big hitting Lee was a 3-time winner on the KLPGA in past years. She also has a win on the Ladies Asian Golf Tour. At the Meijer LPGA Classic, she stared down Inbee Park, who might go down as the best South Korean golfer ever before her career is over (yes, surpassing even the great Se Ri Pak), in a playoff by birdying the second hole. Sometimes a rookie just comes along in the wrong year to win Rookie of the Year honors. Ask Na Yeon Choi, whose 1296 ROY points were a tremendous total…except that there was this other fantastic rookie that year named Yani Tseng who topped her at 1563 points. Same thing for Anna Nordqvist (943) and Michelle Wie (914), who in 2009 were both left in the dust by Jiyai Shin (1602). In contrast, Mi-Rim’s 941 points was only 18 shy of matching the point totals of last year’s top two ROY finishers Moriya Jutanugarn (480) and Caroline Masson (479) put together. But 2014 saw Lydia Ko have a rookie season for the ages with an astounding 1720 points. That’s just how things work out. Just don’t forget about the incredible rookie season Mi-Rim had in 2014. She was outstanding this year. Her future looks incredibly bright.
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