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 #1 players for 2016: Angelique Kerber (WTA) and Ariya Jutanugarn (LPGA).
2016 Prize Money: $10,136,615
Titles: US Open (Major), Australian Open (Major), Porsche Tennis Grand Prix; Olympic Silver Medalist
Awards: WTA Player of the Year, wtatennis.com Most Popular Player, WTA Match of the Year (Wuhan vs Petra Kvitova), Bambi Award, German Athlete of the Year
It wasn’t even that Angelique Kerber won every tournament she played in 2016. Sure, she won her first two singles Majors at the Australian Open and US Open, along with a title at Stuttgart. However, she wasn’t always the one on top. But so many times when the final of a tournament rolled around, she was there. In addition to the two Majors she won, she was also the runner-up at Wimbledon and the Silver Medalist at the Olympics. Angie was also runner-up in Singapore, Cincinnati and Brisbane…in fact, runner-up in singles and doubles in Brisbane. In her run to the world #1 ranking and 2016 money list title, Kerber played a brand of consistent high level tennis unmatched by anybody for the entire season. Starting 2016 ranked #10, she became the first German player to be ranked #1 or win a Major since her idol, Steffi Graf. What is amazing to me…and shows how much these things can turn on the smallest of margins…is that in the first Major of the year, Kerber was facing a match point against her versus Misaki Doi…in the first round! Confidence plays such a big part in Angie’s game…had she lost in the first round of the Australian Open, I say there is no way she has the year she did. Instead, she fought off that match point, going on to beat Serena Williams in the Australian Open final. Instead of a first round loss to Doi, she captures her first Major with a win over Serena. After that, as they say, the rest is history.
ARIYA JUTANUGARN (LPGA)
2016 Prize Money: $2,550,928
Titles: Ricoh Women’s British Open (Major), Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic, Kingsmill Championship, LPGA Volvik Championship
Awards: LPGA Player of the Year, LPGA Money List Winner, LPGA Heather Farr Player Award. Race to CME Globe
There was a time during the 2015 LPGA season where Ariya Jutanugarn missed 10 cuts in a row. She looked done. Toast. But the young Thai phenom refused to give up. Her game slowly started to improve toward the end of the season. Then, early in the 2016 season, with her first Major in reach she imploded again down the stretch at the ANA Inspiration. More talk of how May couldn’t finish the job ensued. With good people around her…her family, her sister Moriya, coach Gary Gilchrist and the people from Vision 54, Ariya didn’t crumble. She just smiled. By the time May 2016 was over, nobody on the LPGA was smiling more. Not only did she win her first title, she won her first 3 titles back to back to back to sweep the month. It marked the first time anybody in LPGA history won their first 3 titles consecutively. She was the first player representing Thailand to win an official LPGA event (Pornanong Phatlum has an unofficial win, Stacy Prammanasudh is an American LPGA winner of half-Thai heritage). May would go on to become the first Thai player, male or female, to win a Major, capturing the 2016 Ricoh Women’s British Open. Add in the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open and May finished a dream season as LPGA Player of the Year, the Money List winner, the Heather Farr Player Award winner, Race to CME Globe winner and a Thai national hero. All of that and she still has room to improve. If she ever figures out how to incorporate her driver, she might be untouchable.
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