For the past two years I have counted down the top 30 (2013) and top 25 (2014) players on the WTA and LPGA money lists as my year-end wrap-up. This year I am reducing the list to the top 15. However, I am adding the LPGA of Japan (JLPGA) to the countdown. For the WTA, singles, doubles and mixed doubles are added to the total money earnings. For the JLPGA, I will approximate the US Dollar totals based on the day I look up the exchange rate. Here are the #13 players for 2015: Ana Ivanovic (WTA), Erina Hara (JLPGA) and Hyo-Joo Kim (LPGA).
ANA IVANOVIC (WTA)
2015 Prize Money: $1,898,722
It’s tough to say somebody who finishes 13th on the money list had a disappointing season but such is the case in some ways for Ana Ivanovic. Certainly, she should be praised for reaching the semifinals at Roland Garros, her first Major semifinal since she won Roland Garros 2008. She also was runner-up at the Brisbane International back in January. That said, Ana was coming off a 2104 season that saw her reach 6 finals and win 4 of them. It looked like 2015 might be a huge season for her, one where she could challenge the players at the very top of the rankings. Simply put, it wasn’t. It was a good year. Not great. At least, not for the standard she set last season. The Brisbane final was her only final of the year. Switching gears back to the positive, let it be said that Ivanovic has had sub-par seasons before and was able to bounce back. I am hoping for the same to happen in 2016. At 28 years old, this is her time. If Ana is ever to challenge to win another Major she cannot squander many more opportunities.
ERINA HARA (JLPGA)
2015 Prize Money: $461,075 USD (¥56,800,365)
Titles: Daito Kentaku Eheyanet Ladies
It was terrific to see Erina Hara get back into the winner’s circle this year at the 2015 Daito Kentaku Eheyanet Ladies. The win marked her first title since her maiden victory at the 2008 NEC Karuizawa 72 Golf Tournament. Back then, Erina was a young, up and coming new talent with a bright future. Then she had some lean years in there, not even making the top 70 a few times. So it’s good for her that the last two years she has bounced back, finishing 9th last year and 13th this year on the money list. In addition to her title at Daito, she also finished T2 at Samantha Thavasa Girls Collection Ladies Tournament and had 9 top 10s overall. Hopefully, she can keep it up in 2016.
HYO-JOO KIM (LPGA)
2015 Prize Money: $923,221
Titles: JTBC Founders Cup
Hyo-Joo Kim made a Major splash as a non-member when she won the 2014 Evian Championship. As part of a loaded 2015 LPGA rookie class, the 20-year old (19 when the season started) showed she was the real deal. Not that there was any doubt for me. She was already a terror on the KLPGA with 8 titles and 3 Majors before 2015. Oh by the way, she added another KLPGA title this year as well. But this countdown focuses only on 2015 LPGA wins (and JLPGA if a player has both…In-Gee Chun, I’m talking to you). Alas, Hyo-Joo isn’t lacking in LPGA hardware this year either! She further validated the hype surrounding her with a March victory at the JTBC Founders Cup. She would go on to 9 overall top 10s. Other highlights included a sweet hole in one at KPMG Women’s PGA and leading after the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open. In many other seasons, she would have been a Rookie of the Year winner. This is not one of those seasons. Nevertheless, at only 20-years old she is showing the talent to be a success for the next decade barring burnout or injury.
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