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 #9 players for 2015: Venus Williams (WTA), Shiho Oyama (JLPGA) and Shanshan Feng (LPGA).
VENUS WILLIAMS (WTA)
Prize Money: $2,404,419
Titles: ASB Classic, Wuhan Open, WTA Elite Trophy
Awards: WTA Comeback Player of the Year
2014 showed glimpses of the what Venus Williams could still accomplish in the seeming twilight of her career with a title and 3 runners-up. But 2015 was even better, with the future Hall of Famer winning 3 titles, at the ASB Classic, Wuhan Open and the WTA Elite Trophy. This gives her 48 career singles titles. It would be great to see her reach 50 in 2016. Her quarterfinal appearances at the Australian Open and US Open marked her greatest success in singles Majors since 2010. This all led to Venus being awarded the 2015 WTA Comeback Player of the Year. But don’t call it a comeback. She’s been here for years. Basically, it comes down to her health. When her Sjogren’s Syndrome is under control and her body is willing, she can still be a threat to win any match. Clearly, at 35-years old there will be good days and bad days. Venus says she intends to play on for more seasons. As long as she plays as she did in 2015, she should continue to build her already phenomenal HOF credentials. Oh, and lest I forget. Venus Williams, a leading force behind equal prize money for women in tennis, completed her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration this year from Indiana University East campus.
SHIHO OYAMA (JLPGA)
2015 Prize Money: $641,162 USD (¥77,101,662)
Titles: Yonex Ladies Golf Tournament
After just finishing my post about Venus Williams, I find that many of the same accolades could be showered upon 38-year old Shiho Oyama. The difference is that Shiho hasn’t really had a significant dip in her play over the years. The 2006 Player of the Year has maintained a strong showing on the JLPGA tour, this year adding the 2015 Yonex Ladies Golf Tournament to her 16 career victories. Top 10 in prize money, scoring average, GIR, birdies…you name it, Shiho continues to be a marvelous player. Not only did she once again shine on the JLPGA tour, but she came overseas to Lancaster, PA to finish T5 at the US Women’s Open. After her second round 4-under 66, I was pulling so hard for her to win the greatest tournament in women’s golf. That didn’t quite happen, but to come over and play so well at the USWO at this stage of her career was quite impressive. I don’t know how much longer she will play on the JLPGA, but clearly her skills are still intact. I hope she keeps going for years to come.
SHANSHAN FENG (LPGA)
2015 Prize Money: $1,083,338
Observe that trophy Shanshan Feng is holding in the photo above. That isn’t actually an LPGA trophy. That’s from the LET’s Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. Shanshan had a wonderful LPGA season, cracking the top 10 on the money list with the fewest tournaments played of any top 10 finisher. It could have been even better had her tournaments played been on par with others on the list. I wish she had played more. But it’s hard to argue when she is off on other tours winning titles. This year, she won twice on the Ladies European Tour, at the aforementioned Omega Dubai Ladies Masters and at the Buick Championship. Neither of those count towards money for this year in review, but I will include pictures and video. After all, I can’t ignore that she finished tops on the LET Order of Merit and had the lowest scoring average. However, focusing back on Feng’s LPGA year, although she did not win this season, it was still a fantastic showing with 12 top 10s, including two in Majors, and a runner-up at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. Again, I’d prefer her to focus on the LPGA. But how can I argue when she goes to another tour and wins their Order of Merit (money list for the LET) and the scoring average crown? I just worry that all the travel associated with tour hopping might catch up with her as it did with Jiyai Shin. I didn’t like losing Jiyai to the JLPGA and I worry about losing Shanshan to the LET.
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