For the 2018 edition of my WTA and LPGA money list countdown I will focus on the top 10 from each tour, as determined by the money lists. For the WTA, singles, doubles and mixed are combined for total earnings. Here are the #6 players for 2018: Sloane Stephens (WTA) and So-Yeon Ryu (LPGA).
SLOANE STEPHENS (WTA)
2018 Prize Money: $5,068,099
Titles: Miami Open
Awards: WTA Fan Favorite Match of the Year (Sloane Stephens v Simona Halep, Rogers Cup Final)
It was another stellar year for Sloane Stephens in 2018. Although some think at times she doesn’t take losing as badly as they would like her to, when the lights are brightest Sloane tends to play her best. She won the Miami Open, a Premier Mandatory and also reached another Major final at Roland Garros, where she took the first set from Simona Halep and was up a break in the second before falling in three. In fact, the Roland Garros final was one of three high quality finals Sloane played in 2018. Her three setter against Halep in the Rogers Cup final was voted by fans as WTA Match of the Year. Stephens also took the first set from Elina Svitolina in the final of the WTA Finals in Singapore before losing in 3 sets. Although she lost 3 of the 4 finals she reached this season, look at those events…all top notch. Roland Garros, Miami Open, Rogers Cup and the Tour Finals.
Her success was rewarded mid-season with a career high world #3 ranking. Sloane would end the year ranked #6, still a fantastic result. Just imagine what a year it would have been if one or two of those finals leads could have been held. 2019 more than likely will be the same kind of season that Sloane had in 2018. There may be a handful of head-scratching losses, but also a handful of big events when she shows that when she’s on, she can go toe to toe with anybody on tour.
SO-YEON RYU (LPGA)
2018 Prize Money: $1,438,850
Titles: Meijer LPGA Classic; (Team) International Crown
Awards: LPGA William and Mousie Powell Award
First, let me say that this list includes only money and individual titles earned on the WTA and LPGA tours, so So-Yeon Ryu’s JLPGA Major win at the Japan Women’s Open where she won 28,000,000 Japanese Yen (as I am writing this that converts to around $254,000 USD). As it is, So-Yeon almost won another LPGA Major, being bested in the second hole of a playoff at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship by Sung-Hyun Park. She also tied for 3rd at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Ryu did find her way to the winner’s circle at the Meijer LPGA Classic and the team event, the International Crown.
Coming into 2018 off of a co-Player of the Year campaign in 2017, it was a terrific season for So-Yeon Ryu. The only quibble is one many of her fans have long had. She has many events where if you just took away that one clunky round, she would contend almost weekly. Her 7 top tens is a bit misleading. She was much better than that for most tournaments, but a loose round of 75 or something similar would often derail her hopes of staying in contention. If she cleans up those types of hiccups she should be right back to challenging for Player of the Year again in 2019. And people root for her. She is held in high esteem by her peers, who voted for her to receive the William and Mousie Powell Award, which goes to a player felt to be an example of the ideals, spirit and values of the tour.
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