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 #14 players for 2015: Angelique Kerber (WTA), Ai Suzuki (JLPGA) and Suzann Pettersen (LPGA).
ANGELIQUE KERBER (WTA)
2015 Prize Money: $1,898,047
Titles: (SINGLES) Family Circle Cup, Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Aegon Classic, Bank of the West Classic
Right off the bat I have to make a confession. While I am very fond of Angelique Kerber, she handed me the most soul crushing defeat as a fan when she came back to take the title from 1-4 down in the 3rd set of the Family Circle Cup final against my favorite currently active player, Madison Keys. But that aside, it was a delight to see Angie have a season where she took 4 events (Charleston, Stuttgart, Birmingham and Stanford) and finished runner-up in another (Hong Kong). Last year, she played bridesmaid 4 times, so it was nice to see her turn 2nd place in 1st place this year. The one area of improvement for 2016 is Major performances. After she won Charleston and Stuttgart, I thought she’d be a threat at Roland Garros. That didn’t happen as she bowed out in the 3rd round. In the past 3 years she has progressed past the 4th round only once at the Majors. Hopefully, next season she will make a deep run in one of the 4 biggest events…or maybe even at the Summer Olympics.
AI SUZUKI (JLPGA)
2015 Prize Money: $458,483 USD (¥56,448,371)
Rising talent Ai Suzuki turned in another successful year on the JLPGA. She didn’t get a win, but she did have two runner-ups. Coming off 2014, where she was Rookie of the Year and won a Major (JLPGA Championship Konica Minolta Cup), it might seem that 2015 was a step back. But really, Ai-sama was right in the mix for most of the year. Counting her two runners-up and another event where she finished 3rd, Suzuki had 11 top 10 results. She also had an 11th and 12th place result. To me, those are results that augur a long and prosperous career for this young star of the JLPGA.
2015 Prize Money: $912,603
Titles: Manulife LPGA Classic
2015 was the first season since 2006 that Suzann Pettersen wasn’t in the top 10 of at least the money or scoring lists. I think that’s a little misleading. Her 70.64 scoring average was better than 4 of those past seasons. Also, Suzann did win the Manulife LPGA Classic. Partially, I think veteran players around her plus some precocious rookies and recent years’ newcomers have simply become better. The bar for what it takes to finish top 10 every year has risen. Suzann remains among the best players in the world. The only real negative for her season might be the incident with Alison Lee at Solheim Cup. Look, I don’t want to fully rehash the details except to say that technically Suzann wasn’t incorrect. However, the way things were handled and communicated certainly could have been better. That was a dark moment in an otherwise positive and thrilling Solheim Cup.
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