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 #1 players for 2015: Serena Williams (WTA), Bo-Mee Lee (JLPGA) and Lydia Ko (LPGA).
SERENA WILLIAMS (WTA)
2015 Prize Money: $10,582,642
Titles: Wimbledon (MAJOR), Roland Garros (MAJOR), Australian Open (MAJOR), Miami Open, Western & Southern Open
Awards: WTA Player of the Year, WTA Money List, WTA Year End #1 Ranking, AP Female Athlete of the Year, Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year, ESPY Female Tennis Player of the Year, Woman’s Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year, ITF Women’s Singles Champion, United States Sports Academy Female Athlete of the Year…and many more
Wow. Just, wow. What else is there to even say about Serena Williams? Forget male or female, we have been witness to one of the greatest athletes, regardless of gender, of all-time. Although she came 2 matches shy of the calendar year Grand Slam in 2015, let’s not forget that she won her 2nd Serena Slam, holding all four Majors at the same time when she won Wimbledon 2015, to go along with the Roland Garros 2015, Australian Open 2015 and US Open 2014 trophies she already held. And let’s also remember that she played a select schedule and took the entire fall season off after the US Open or she would have probably won 9 or 10 events. To see Serena honored as the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year was not just a tremendous honor for her, but such a great honor for tennis. Her importance to the sport I love so much should not be understated or underestimated. She lifts the profile of the sport while simultaneously transcending it. If there is any concern moving forward, it’s only that age and/or injury will eventually catch up with her. If she is fit and healthy, it’s a wrap. She will exceed Steffi Graf and Margaret Court in singles Majors. However, a lingering knee injury at Hopman Cup to start 2016 reminds us that she is human. Eventually, the clock and her body will say no. But until then, All Hail Queen Serena!
BO-MEE LEE (JLPGA)
2015 Prize Money: $1,965,859 (¥230,497,057)
Titles: Hoken no Madoguchi Ladies, Earth Mondamin Cup, Nitori Ladies Golf Tournament, Golf 5 Ladies Golf Tournament, Stanley Ladies Golf Tournament, Ito En Ladies Golf Tournament, Daio Paper Elleair Ladies Open
Awards: JLPGA Player of the Year, JLPGA Money List, JLPGA Scoring Average
If I told a golf fan there was a player that would lead the tour in greens in regulation and putting average, the response I’d get would probably be along the lines of that player winning a whole lot of money and titles. Well, I present to you the amazing Bo-Mee Lee. She had a record-setting year on the LPGA of Japan (JLPGA). She finished 3rd on the money list in 2014 and 2nd on the money list in 2012. In 2015, Bo-Mee made more than those two years COMBINED. Her scoring average has improved every year on the JLPGA. She won 7 events this past season. The scary thing is…she actually has room to improve. As mind-blowing as her year was, she didn’t win a Major in 2015. Imagine her money list total had that happened even once…or more than once. I also loved that when it appeared that Teresa Lu might be sneaking up on her in the POY race, Bo-Mee just put her foot on the gas and left everybody in the dust with back to back wins down the stretch at Ito En and Daio Paper Elleair. This is as special a player as I’ve ever seen on the JLPGA.
LYDIA KO (LPGA)
2015 Prize Money: $2,800,802
Titles: Evian Championship (MAJOR), Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship, ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
Awards: LPGA Player of the Year, LPGA Money List, Race to CME Globe Winner
I started this post with a legend in her twilight…but still stong…years, Serena Williams. Witness now a legend in the making…in her ascendancy…Lydia Ko. I try to keep these short and sweet so I won’t list all of her “youngest ever” achievements. I just want to sit back and reflect on just how brilliant…how off the chart…this young lady is. But I have to mention a couple of them. The only worry I ever had about her game was breaking through at a Major. That can be checked off now with her win at the Evian Championship. That made her the youngest LPGA Major champion in history. I’d even call her the youngest Major champion, male or female, ever. Yes, I know…young Tom Morris Jr…but with all due respect, that was a completely different kind of contest in terms of participation. With 5 LPGA tournament wins in 2015, she raised her career total to 10. That makes Ko the youngest on the LPGA tour to 10 wins since Nancy Lopez. And consider that Lopez was 22. At 18, Lydia might be in the Hall of Fame by 22 if she keeps up this pace. I talked about how Bo-Mee Lee was as special a player as I’ve seen on the JLPGA. I’ve NEVER seen anything like Bo-Gyung (Lydia) Ko at her age. I can’t wait to see how much she continues to rewrite the golf history book.
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