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 #12 players for 2015: Timea Bacsinszky (WTA), Ritsuko Ryu (JLPGA) and Brittany Lincicome (LPGA).
TIMEA BACSINSZKY (WTA)
2015 Prize Money: $1,963,645
Titles: Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Monterrey Open
Awards: WTA Most Improved Player of the Year
Sometimes when a lower ranked player makes a splash early in the year, it means big things to come, like when Garbine Muguruza broke through at Hobart last year. Other times, early brilliance is not a sign of future success. For Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky, her surprise run to the Shenzen Open final, upsetting Petra Kvitova along the way, heralded a wonderful 2015 season to come. After basically quitting the tour, Shenzen was her first singles final since 2010. Timea would pull off the Mexican double, capturing the Abierto Mexicano Telcel and Monterrey Open, both times defeating Caroline Garcia of France. Bacsinszky would cap a great comeback year with a runner-up finish at the China Open to the aforementioned Muguruza. Although she finished the year ranked #11, after the rankings came out following Beijing, Timea was in the Top 10 for the first time in her career. Add in a semifinal run at Roland Garros and a quarterfinal run at Wimbledon, her best ever results at Majors, and it all culminated in Bacsinszky being awarded the WTA’s 2015 Most Improved Player of the Year.
RITSUKO RYU (JLPGA)
2015 Prize Money: $478,338 USD (¥57,899,312)
Titles: AXA Ladies Golf Tournament in Miyazaki
It seems as if there were a lot of players this year on the three tours where I focus winning for the first time since (fill in the blank) season. And so it goes that such was also the case with Ritsuko Ryu. Her win at the 2015 AXA Ladies Golf Tournament in Miyazaki was her first title since the 2012 Yamaha Ladies Open. Not only did she earn the victory, but she went through the fire of facing 2015’s best JLPGA player, Bo-Mee Lee, in a dramatic playoff. It’s amazing what a win will do for a player. It’s changes a season. While she was very strong this year with 12 top 10s, Ritsuko has been very consistent over the past couple of years. In fact, her scoring average this year (71.92) does not best her averages from 2013 and 2014. But getting to the winner’s circle gave her the highest finish on the money list that she’s had since the year of her last win, 2012. She is strong tee to green. If she could tighten up her putting, she could build on the 3 career titles she currently owns.
BRITTANY LINCICOME (LPGA)
2015 Prize Money: $933,521
Titles: ANA Inspiration (MAJOR), Solheim Cup (Team USA)
I was trying not to post this entry until I could say…and now I can say…congratulations to Brittany Lincicome on her marriage to Dewald Gouws. I wish the couple the best happiness, health and prosperity moving forward. Certainly, she will have prosperity covered if she keeps playing as she did in 2015. This was her best season since 2011. The highlight, by far, was her Major victory at the ANA Inspiration. Brittany won this event in 2009 when it was the Kraft Nabisco Championship. This year she took on another former KNC Champion, Stacy Lewis (2011), in a playoff to see who would take the dive into Poppie’s Pond. Brittany won on the third hole of sudden death. Lincicome did have some peaks and valleys this year, but that is fairly typical of her. When she’s on, she’s really on. When she’s not, well…there’s always the next tournament. For example, in the Majors this year she won ANA and finished 4th at the Women’s PGA Championship. On the other hand, she missed the cut at the US Open and Evian Championship while finishing T50 at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Sometimes it can be feast or famine with Bam Bam. Oh, but is she a joy to watch when all cylinders are firing and she’s ripping it around the course, creating thrilling moments like hitting an eagle on the 72nd hole of a Major.
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