Allie, The Golf Oracle” is back! Never mind that I only predicted a few things right last year! It was a heck of a year regardless of my forecasting ability. There was Ariya Jutanugarn taking the LPGA by storm, InBee Park battling back to win the Gold in Rio, The Great Se Ri Pak going on her farewell tour, Lydia Ko being Lydia Ko! And how bout when Team USA (who barely finished the season with any players in the top ten) took home the International Crown?! Too much fun!

The LPGA: So young, so good, so diverse.

2016 was incredible. How can 2017 even begin to compete with a year like that? There will be No Olympics!? No International Crown!?

But there is also No Need to Worry!… LPGA 2017 has plenty of golf awesomeness in store for y’all. I’m about to tell you about it too! I’m about to tell you why the LPGA in 2017 just might make for an even more interesting year than the last year. Yeah, you heard me! More interesting than last year you say?! Yep! What do you think of that!?

Oracle Allie’s Top Ten LPGA 2017 Players, Places, and Performances to Watch For!

1The Solheim Cup!

Alison Lee tees off at the 2015 Solheim Cup

Okay, that’s one thing 2016 didn’t have, right!? The most historic team event in Women’s Professional Golf… The Solheim Cup. In 2015, Team USA won 8 out of the 12 final day singles matches to come back from a 6-10 deficit and retain the Cup by a point.
The drama still in the air after the fierce, tense battle will without a doubt be explosive this August 14th-20th when Team Europe is set to show down with the Americans on Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa. No doubt, everyone will be finishing those gimmees?
And… I’m going to go ahead and rile everybody up here with my prediction that… Europe comes over and gets revenge on the Red, White, and Blue. Yep, I know… call me an anarchist but I think Annika Sorenstam is going to lay down the law on those whippersnappers and eat Juli Inkster and the Yankees for lunch!

2Ariya Jutanugarn

Thailand’s pride, Ariya Jutanugarn.

Jutanugarn was completely off of my 2016 radar… big mistake by Allie the golf oracle! In my defense, she did sort of climb her way back from outta nowhere. Nowhere being a 2013 shoulder injury that required surgery and a golfing collapse on the final day of the 2015 ANA Inspiration.
There were no collapses in 2016 though. Thailand’s Jutanugarn was amazing. She not only won the most LPGA money, won the Race to the CME million dollar bonus, won the Rolex Player of the Year award, won the Heather Farr Perseverance Award, but she also won 5 tournaments and three of them happened back to back to back! Unreal.

So what is going to happen to her in 2017? Will it be Tiger domination Round Two? Or David Duval oblivion? I’m actually thinking Jutanugarn may have a similar experience to Jordan Spieth’s year after “the year”. Like Spieth last year, I think Jutanugarn will start out hot and then might sputter for a bit as she marvels about how great she is— losing her focus for that ever so important millisecond. Then she will steady herself and be back to greatness. It might leave just a long enough opening for someone else to steal the limelight?

3Oh Canada! The Sister Squad

Brittany Henderson with her younger sister, Brooke. Photo credit: Dave Andrews

I think that Brooke Henderson is hungry. And you know what?… She has that sister Brittany (who is a really good golfer too, by the way) on her bag. Now it’s hard enough to stop one Canadian woman… but stopping sisters? Well, that’s like trying to tell a Moose to scoot over!
Thus, look for the Henderson Sister Squad to win and win a lot. With help, I think Brooke will win the 2017 Rolex Player of the Year Award. Canadians, they are just so darn nice and well-mannered… they sneak up on ya!

4New Venues? Neato!

The LPGA has some baller cool additions coming to the 2017 schedule including trips to Green Bay, Wisconsin for the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic and Indianapolis, Indiana for the Indy Women in Tech Tournament, as well the Aberdeen Classic in Scotland and the McKayson Open in New Zealand.Do you realize this means that we will get to see Lydia Ko tee it up on her home turf?! Fun for her and fun for us! And on top of

Do you realize this means that we will get to see Lydia Ko tee it up on her home turf?! Fun for her and fun for us! And on top of that, the Indianapolis event will feature a few holes inside of the Indy 500 track to my understanding? Like what!? That’s cool. And then it’s never bad to hit up the Cheese-heads in Wisconsin… or you know… go to the home of golf and all!

For a super helpful read all about the LPGA 2017 schedule and happenings check out our writer Nancy Berkley’s fantastic preview of the year to come.

5America’s Hope… Are your shoulders getting heavy Lexi Thompson?

Early winner in 2016, Lexi Thompson.

Last year I picked Lexi Thompson to win the Rolex Player of the Year Award… and although, much to my delight, Lexi started off strong with an early win in Thailand… she didn’t end up staying hot. Regardless, she was one of only two Americans to win on the LPGA last year (Brittany Lang at the US Open over Anna Nordqvist with the unfortunate sand cam incident… oh “to see the world in a grain of sand”… some William Blake poetry for ya).

At 30 years old, Lang was the oldest player on Tour to win. What!? I guess everyone is getting bored? Retiring early? Changing jobs ten million times like true millennials? Having kids? Just not as good as the younger players? Whatever the case may be, by today’s standards Lang might not have much time left, which takes us back to Lexi. She’s going to need to step it up, and knowing her competitive fire she probably will.
And you know what? I actually think she will get some help carrying the weight of America’s golfing hopes from some unexpected sources too. Of the Symetra Tour’s Top Ten LPGA Graduates, five were American including number two on the money list, Ally McDonald. McDonald is good and so are more Americans who are on their way up. It might take a few years but don’t count us out just yet.

6The Stats Master: Lydia Ko

Number one player in the Rolex World Rankings, Lydia Ko

The stat that has been my worst tour stat comparatively speaking has been my putting average. I’m a bit streaky, but don’t you worry, I’m a big believer that a putter can always get hot and I’ve got some good ideas brewin’ for the short stick this year…

Anyway, putting average is a stat that I think is important, and Lydia Ko led the charge last year with a sizzling 28.31 putts per round. Drive for show— putt for dough. Ko made plenty of dough as her putting helped her on her way to the second place scoring average (she missed first by fractions), and it also helped her on her way to number one in top ten finishes with 58 percent of the events she played being top ten finishes.
It’s not too surprising that she won four tournaments and was in the hunt until the very end for Rolex Player of the Year. But will the putter stay hot? You know what… I’m leaning towards no. I think it might be a lean year for the youngster and she will either get better from it or burn out as fast as she lit up the world.

7Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year: Madalene Sagstrom

2016 LPGA rookie, Madalene Sagstrom.

The Symetra Tour’s unstoppable Swede, Madalene Sagstrom, finished atop the Symetra Tour 2016 money list by more than 60,000 dollars. She had maybe the most dominant Symetra performance ever. You know what other great golfer is from Sweden? Henrik Stenson? Nah… I’m talkin’ Annika y’all! Fueled with a little Vision 54 Pia Nilsson Swedish mind power what could stop her?! As a side note, Nilsson deserves congratulations for her 2016 Ellen Griffin Rolex Award for teaching excellence. Let’s go Sweden!

8Asia will dominate again

So Yeon Ryu

Well, this is not the most daring prediction in the world! First of all, seven out of the top ten players in the world are Asian-born. Not just South Korea, but a diverse group of Asians. Thailand is showing up; Shanshan Feng and the Chinese are showing up. It’s impressive.
It is surely a sign of work ethic, talent, opportunity, and all that good stuff. From the outside, one can’t help but marvel at the dominance. But it’s not just the top ten, close to half of the top 50 are Asian or of Asian decent. Massive respect to the Ancient East is all I got!

9Hold Onto that Tour Card Kids!

It often goes overlooked, but the battle at the bottom of the Tour at the end of the year is always pretty darn interesting. Every year, those players who just aren’t able to quite be in that top 100 on the all-important money list are right back to battling for their Tour Card at Final Stage again. I had a few LPGA pals this year who wound up back in Final Stage at Q-school after failing to requalify for their Tour Card. Rachel Rohanna, Vicky Hurst, and Casey Grice were all there battling it out and none of them were able to pull through.
Sadena Parks was one LPGA player I knew who went back to Final Stage but found success and got to keep her Card. With so many good players waiting in the ranks of the Symetra Tour and tours around the world, it’s not an easy task to stay on Tour. The LPGA is certainly designed to try and keep top players at the top, but there is still plenty of movement, and it’s always a battle right to the very end.

10More Fans Like You 🙂

Crowd favorite, Angela Stanford.

Mike Whan has done a fantastic job of growing the LPGA and the Symetra Tours. Both Tours have increased purses and total events. While the Symetra Tour remains solely American in its geographical spread of tournaments, the global sprawl of the LPGA has been felt around the world and was particularly evident in Rio.

The hard work done by all the folks who made Rio, the International Crown and all the LPGA’s worldwide events happen last year will bring the benefits of increased fanship around the world this year. Women’s golf is so good right now and it’s so widespread and the T.V. coverage and media coverage is that much on the rise that I don’t think you will be able to keep the fans away. They will be loud at the Solheim Cup, loud when Lydia Ko tees it up for her home event in New Zealand, loud when Brooke Henderson sinks the winning putt at the Evian… they will be loud… YOU WILL BE LOUD! And for that the players no doubt thank you!

Okay, did I win ya over? Do you think 2017 is gonna be better than last year? I want to hear about what y’all loved about the LPGA last year and what you are looking forward to this year? Tell me about it! I mean, I talked your ear off and I’m only right 99% of the time, so it’s your turn!

Allie WhiteAllie White from Lancaster, Ohio, is a professional golfer and golf journalist. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Journalism at Ohio University. With four years of experience on the Symetra Tour, a cut-made at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open, and a 2016 Ohio Open Championship, White hopes to continue her golf career during her academic breaks.
“I grew up on an 88-acre farm in Southeast Ohio and currently live in the same area with my dog Finley where I cheer like crazy for all of my favorite Ohio sports teams. I love to play my guitar, listen to music, watch movies, and read good stuff!

My two biggest golf dreams are to play in Toledo Ohio’s LPGA event and to make it back to another US Open. I’m still hunting for that first hole in one!”

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