by Dave Andrews
29 players have earned their rookie cards on the LPGA for the 2016 season. 14 of those LPGA rookies will have full playing status. 15 will have limited status. Reflecting the appeal of the LPGA as an international tour, only 6 of the 14 new rookies with full playing status are Americans.
The 29 rookie cards were earned three different ways this year… either by winning an LPGA event as a non-member, by finishing in the top 10 on the Symetra Tour money list, or through the final stage of LPGA Q-School.
In Gee Chun of South Korea (pictured above) earned her card by winning the U S Women’s Open back in June. The 21-year-old Chun, who was the leading money winner on the Korean LPGA this year and is currently the 9th ranked player in the world, could have claimed immediate membership on the LPGA right after her Open victory, but she opted to finish out her season in Korea and begin her LPGA career in 2016. Chun was a math wizard in school and has a genius IQ. Her nickname is “Dumbo,” not because of having big ears (she doesn’t), but because she is often distracted by hearing small sounds in the distance while she is preparing to hit a shot. I would call that “rabbit ears.” She will be considered the odds-on favorite to have the best season among all of the rookies in 2016.
Annie Park, Lee Lopez, and Rachel Rohanna; all from the United States; earned their rookie cards by finishing in the top 10 on the Symetra Tour money list this season. The Symetra Tour is the official developmental tour of the LPGA and is owned by the LPGA. This year it had 23 events around the country. For the past eight years, the ten leading money winners on the Symetra Tour have earned automatic full playing status on the LPGA for the following season.
Annie Park was the leading money winner and rookie of the year on the Symetra Tour. She won three times on the tour this season while only playing in 11 events. She joined the tour in mid-season after graduating college. The Levittown, New York native was an All-American at the University of Southern California where she won the 2013 NCAA individual national scoring title in 2013.
Follow Annie Park on Twitter.
Rachel Rohanna earned the final spot on the LPGA from the Symetra Tour by finishing 10th on the tour’s money list this year. She had one victory and five top 10 finishes in her third season on the tour. The Pennsylvania native played her college golf at Ohio State University where she was a two-time First Team All-Big Ten player.
WomensGolf.com interview with Rachel Rohanna
The 10 full status rookies from Q-School
Grace Na (United States)
Budsabakorn Sukapan (Thailand)
Cyna Rodriguez (Philippines)
Megan Khang (United States) – My recent profile of Megan Khang
Ashlan Ramsey (United States)
Gaby Lopez (Mexico)
Holly Clyburn (England)
Bertine Strauss (South Africa)
Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras (Thailand)
Benyapa Niphatsophon (Thailand)
The 15 limited status rookies from Q-School
Ssu Chia Cheng (Taiwan)
Hannah Collier (United States
Ani Gulugian (United States)
Ginger Howard (United States)
Jaclyn Jansen (United States)
Briana Mao (United States)
Ally McDonald (United States)
Wichanee Meechai (Thailand)
Su Oh (Australia)
Marion Ricordeau (France)
Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong (Thailand)
Anne-Catherine Tanguay (Canada)
Prima Thammaraks (Thailand)
Pavarisa Yoktuan (Thailand)
Jiayai Zhou (China)
Dave Andrews is a retired television news reporter. He is also an avid golfer who has become a big fan and frequently caddies for the rising US and International golf stars of the LPGA and the Symetra Tour.
He is the author of Pops and Sunshine, a novel and screenplay about a young woman pro’s dream and struggle to make it to the LPGA.
The screenplay has been optioned by a production company in Hollywood. The novel is available at Kindle Ebooks.
Follow Dave online on Twitter @PopsandSunshine.