It’s early days but a
A player that is very highly ranked and is having a great season would not make this list as I had high expectations for that person. In the same way, a player who had a bad season last year and is having another one now, would not make this list because expectations were lowered.
With that in mind, here are my early season choices:
BIGGEST SURPRISES SO FAR THIS YEAR
Jin Young Ko – Jin Young had a fine rookie season last year, winning the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year award. She won early in the season in 2018, and although she played well most of the year, she didn’t win again. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to predict another solid year in 2019. But who could have predicted this? Ko has dominated the 2019 LPGA season so far. She has teed it up six times and has five top-three finishes. Yes, that’s right, five top-three finishes in six starts. She has won twice, has two runner-up finishes, and a third place. On top of all that, she is the new number one player in the world in the Rolex World Rankings.
Mi Hyang Lee – Lee is in her 8th season on the LPGA Tour. She has had a solid career thus far, winning twice and having over twenty top ten finishes. In 2019 she is off to the best start of her career. Although she hasn’t won this year, she already has a top-five finish, two top tens, and five top twenty-five finishes. She finished last year No. 63 on the money list. This year she currently sits at No. 4.
Azahara Munoz – A ten year veteran on the LPGA Tour, she has yet to win a stroke play event (she has won a match play event). This year she has already amassed three top five, and four top ten finishes. She finished last season a solid No. 40 on the money list, this year she sits at No. 10. That first win could be coming soon.
Jodi Ewart Shadoff – Another veteran player who has not yet won on the LPGA Tour, and is off to the best start of her career. Last year Jodi finished the year No. 60 on the money list. With three top tens already in the books this year, she sits at No. 26. Another player who could be getting that first win soon.
Katherine Kirk – Has always been a solid, if not spectacular, player. Kirk is in her 16th year on the LPGA Tour, where she has held up the winning trophy three times. Kirk is off to one of the best starts of her career this year, with a top ten and four top twenty-two finishes. She finished last season No. 67 on the money list and currently sits at No. 25.
Honorable Mentions: Hyo Joo Kim, Sarah Kemp.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS SO FAR THIS YEAR
So Yeon Ryu – A fan favorite for such a long time, this eight-year veteran is off to the slowest start of her career. She has yet to register a top 25 finish this season. Ryu finished No. 6 on the 2018 money list, but currently finds herself sitting at No. 71. I will be very surprised if she is on this list when I next do this again at the mid point of the season.
Angela Stanford – Angela is in her 19th season on the LPGA Tour, and maybe it’s just father time catching up with her. A major championship winner last year (the Evian Championship), Stanford has been anything but this year. She has failed to finish higher than 56th and has already missed three cuts. She currently sits at No. 120 on the money list.
Anna Nordqvist – Anna is now in her 11th season on the LPGA Tour. She is an
Ryann O’Toole – This nine-year veteran had by far her best season in 2018, finishing No. 32 on the year-end money list. It appeared she would have a good shot at making the 2019 Solheim Cup Team. That chance has all but disappeared based on her 2019 results. She has failed to finish better than 36th and currently sits at No. 95 on the money list.
Jennifer Song – Like Ryann above, Jennifer also had her finest season in 2018 where she finished No. 36 on the money list. This year has been a different story as she has not registered a single top 25 finish. Her Solheim Cup chances are also slipping away.
Feature Photo: Anna Nordqvist at the 2019 Bank of Hope Founders Cup | Photo by Ben Harpring