For the fourth annual edition of my WTA and LPGA money list countdown I will focus on the dynamic dozen from each tour, the top 12 on the money lists. For the WTA, singles, doubles and mixed are combined for total earnings. Here are the #4 players for 2016: Agnieszka Radwanska (WTA) and In-Gee Chun (LPGA).
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA (WTA)
2016 Prize Money: $4,162,193
Titles: China Open, Connecticut Open, Shenzhen Open
Awards: WTA Fan Favorite Singles Player of the Year, WTA Shot of the Year, WTA Fan Favorite Major Match of the Year
They really should either rename the WTA Fan Favorite Singles Player of the Year award after Agnieszka Radwanska or save us the pretense of any suspense and give it to her in January each season. Since its inception in 2009, Aga has owned this fan voted title. Elena Dementieva won it in 2009 followed by Maria Sharapova in 2010. From 2011 through this 2016 season, it has gone exclusively to Radwanska. And it’s understandable, not because she keeps winning tournaments. Sure, this season she reached 20 career WTA singles titles by winning in Beijing, New Haven and Shenzhen. But a lot players win titles. It’s the way Aga wins, with deft touch, seemingly impossible angles and a flair that seems reminiscent of a style of play lost amid today’s power hitters. Radwanska shouldn’t be able to do what she does in this era, and yet the proof is in the results. 20 singles titles alone should get Aga into the Tennis Hall of Fame. At 27 years old, she probably has several years ahead of her to raise that total even higher. But she would be an absolute lock if she could reach #1 or win a Major. She should look at Angelique Kerber, who shares some similarities in style, and what she did to reach the top.
IN-GEE CHUN (LPGA)
2016 Prize Money: $1,501,102
Titles: Evian Championship
Awards: LPGA Rookie of the Year, Vare Trophy (lowest scoring average)
If your favorite LPGA player is somebody other than In-Gee Chun, for example mine is Ariya Jutanugarn, and if you are anything like me there is no 2-win LPGA player that should have you more scared than In-Gee Chun. Don’t let the single win in 2016 fool you. Prior to this season, In-Gee was busy collecting Majors on multiple tours, including a triumph at the 2015 US Women’s Open to win her way onto the LPGA Tour. And her win this season? Oh, that was “only” another Major, the Evian Championship. Not only did she win her 2nd LPGA in two seasons, she did so with a Major record score of 21-under. While she finished 4th on the money list, she is the sole player on this countdown of the top 12 below 20 tournaments played (19). While it’s not right to assume how she would have performed if she had played 31 events like Brooke Henderson or 24 events like Lydia Ko or 28 events like Jutanugarn, I cannot believe she would not have been at least #3 if not higher had she been able to avoid runaway luggage and not missed some events. If I were discussing some random player, I would not make assumptions about how well they would do. But I am posting about the 2016 Vare Trophy winner, the year’s top player by scoring average. So while there was one title, she needed a high level of consistency to have the lowest scoring average on tour. Including her win, she was in the top three in 36.8% of her events, in the top ten in 57.9%. In-Gee turned the Rookie of the Year race into a laugher, far outdistancing any so-called competition. If In-Gee Chun focuses on the LPGA next year and plays, say…25 events…Lydia, Ariya, Brooke and everybody else might be in trouble when it comes to 2017 Player of the Year honors.
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