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 #3 players for 2018: Naomi Osaka (WTA) and Sung-Hyun Park (LPGA).
2018 Prize Money: $6,394,289
Titles: US Open, BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells
Awards: WTA Coach of the Year (Sascha Bajin, Naomi’s coach)
There is a new #1 favorite current player for me and she is Naomi Osaka! Love her game when she has it all working. Also, she is a delightful personality, shy though she is, off the court. I feel so badly that in the greatest moment of her professional career so far, it is the controversy that is remembered more than her brilliant play. Hopefully, in time…and with more titles…some of that will fade.
It was such a thrill to see Naomi break through in 2018. Not only did she win the US Open, she also won Indian Wells, perhaps the biggest annual tournament outside of the Majors and Tour Finals. Her win over Serena in the US Open final also, for me anyway, erased any kind of asterisk concerning her win over Williams at the Miami Open when Serena was beginning her comeback. I don’t want to elevate expectations about Naomi unreasonably. However, clearly there is #1 potential. That goes without saying. The question is whether it’s this year. I don’t know. As big as she showed in Indian Wells and the US Open, the nerves she felt (understandably) in the Tokyo final make me wonder if she might still need another year of seasoning before she is ready to emotionally handle the burden of being #1. If it happens in 2018, then great. But if not, it might not be a bad thing to just have a solid year and win a tournament or two.
SUNG-HYUN PARK (LPGA)
2018 Prize Money: $1,498,077
Titles: KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic, Indy Women Tech Championship; International Crown (team competition – Team South Korea)
Sung-Hyun Park was so great in 2017 that there were only two places to go, either maintain her Player of the Year status or drop. Well, she didn’t win Player of the Year in 2018 (oh, by the way, she was also Rookie of the Year in 2017), but she still had a spectacular season. She won three more tournaments. Morever, despite being third on this money list for the year, an argument can be made that despite Ariya Jutanugarn sweeping the year end awards in 2018, the space between Sung-Hyun Park and the Thai superstar is not as great as it might appear.
3 tournaments for Park this year brings her career LPGA win total to 5 in only two years. She’s also two Major championships in two seasons by adding the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. And she did so in spectacular fashion, besting two fellow top 10 money list players for 2018, Nasa Hataoka and So-Yeon Ryu. South Korea is a hotbed of superb golf talent. To be the best among such a strong and deep pool of players is an extraordinary accomplishment. It’s being the best among the best. That’s what Sung-Hyun Park is right now.
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