COUNTRY: New Zealand
DATE OF BIRTH: April 24, 1997
WORLD RANKING: 1
2015 (LPGA): 24 starts, 23 cuts, 5 wins, 17 top-10s
2015 MONEY: $US2,800,802 (1st)
The phenomenal Lydia Ko just keeps making and breaking records. In 2015 alone, her first major win at The Evian Championship made her the youngest major winner in LPGA history, the youngest major winner, male or female, since Young Tom Morris in 1868, and her final round 63 was the lowest by a winner in a major. In February she reached world number one, the youngest player, male or female, to do so, and staged a thrilling duel with Inbee Park throughout the year to retain it. Her five LPGA wins for the year helped her to a two-point win over Inbee for the Rolex Player of the Year title, the youngest winner in the 49-year history the award. Ko also won the Vare Trophy, the Money List title and her second successive Race to CME Globe.
The South Korean born New Zealander played much of her amateur golf in Australia, winning the 2012 NSW Open at 14, the then youngest golfer to win a professional event. Her record in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open is remarkable. She won the Silver Salver as the tournament’s leading amateur three times from age 13, finished third in her first appearance as a professional in 2014 and then won at Royal Melbourne last year. So much incredible talent, and she’s still just 18 years old.
DATE OF BIRTH: May 27, 1996
WORLD RANKING: 18
2015 (LPGA): 29 starts, 24 cuts, 1 win, 7 top-10s
2015 MONEY: $US821,121 (16th)
Australia’s bright young star Minjee Lee enjoyed an excellent 2015 rookie season on the LPGA Tour, claiming her first win at the Kingsmill Championship and posting another six top-10s to finish third in the Rolex Rookie of the Year in a strong field of contenders and 18th in Rolex Player of the Year. She also finished T9 in the RICOH Women’s British Open and top 13 in two other majors. In 2014 Lee shared the third round lead in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open before finishing T11th behind her idol Karrie Webb, from whom she has now taken over as Australia’s highest ranked player. Won the 2014 Australian Women’s Amateur at this course. Top chance for a local victory.
DATE OF BIRTH: December 21, 1974
WORLD RANKING: 33
2015 (LPGA): 22 starts, 18 cuts, 0 wins, 6 top-10s
2015 MONEY: $US394,497 (43rd)
Karrie Webb is a true legend of women’s golf. In an LPGA career of 433 starts, she has made 410 cuts, including 41 wins, seven majors and 204 top-10s. She has 28 top-10s in majors, securing at least one every year bar one since her 1996 rookie year. She is tied tenth on the LPGA All Time Win List and ranks first in wins amongst active players. She is one of only seven Career Grand Slam winners and was cruelly denied the 2014 Evian which would have given her the only Super Career Grand Slam. Webb owns a record five Women’s Australian Opens, the most recent in 2014 when she overcame a five shot deficit. Never count out this champion.
COUNTRY: South Korea
DATE OF BIRTH: April 28, 1988
WORLD RANKING: 32
2015 (LPGA): 31 starts, 27 cuts, 3 wins, 18 top-10s
2015 MONEY: 114,861,293 yen (3rd)
A star at a young age, Jiyai Shin was the first player to win all four majors on the Korean LPGA Tour and qualified for that tour’s Hall of Fame at 20. She moved to the LPGA Tour in 2009, making an immediate impact. In 2010 she spent sixteen weeks as world number one and another nine weeks in 2011. She owns two ROLEX Women’s British Opens, nine other top-10s in majors and 11 LPGA victories. In 2014 she decided to concentrate on the Japan LPGA Tour, posting seven victories there in the last two years. The 2013 champion of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, Shin also had two runner-up finishes in three other appearances. A worthy champion returns.
DATE OF BIRTH: September 10, 1997
WORLD RANKING: 17
2015 (LPGA): 4 starts, 4 cuts, 0 wins, 0 top-10s
2015 MONEY: $100,294
Brooke Henderson is an extraordinary talent. In her stellar amateur career, she became, at 14, the youngest male or female to win a professional title and tied 10th in the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open before turning professional in December that year. Too young to join the LPGA Tour, she earned immediate membership after winning the 2015 Cambia Portland Classic by eight shots, only the second ever LPGA Monday qualifier to win. While her official stats show her winning $100k from just four starts, her unofficial record was $661,818 from ten events. In 2015 majors, she recorded T5 finishes at both the KPMG Women’s PGA and U.S. Women’s Open and T25 at The Evian. An exciting player.
HA NA JANG
COUNTRY: South Korea
DATE OF BIRTH: May 2, 1992
WORLD RANKING: 14
2015 (LPGA): 24 starts, 21 cuts, 0 wins, 8 top-10s
2015 MONEY: $US883,032 (15th)
Ha Na Jang was a star on the KLPGA Tour with six career victories and both Money List and Player of the Year honours in 2013. In 2014 she played several events on the LPGA Tour including a T3 at The Evian Championship, the year’s last major, before qualifying for the 2015 LPGA season, in which she posted three top-10s in her first seven starts including T7 at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and finished fourth for Rookie of the Year in a year of particularly strong first-timers. Three of her top-10s were runner-ups in significant events. Known for a trademark fist pump when she sinks her putts, Jang is a wonderful player who should go well.
DATE OF BIRTH: March 20, 1996
WORLD RANKING: 40
2015 (LPGA): 14 starts, 13 cuts, 0 wins, 3 top-10s
2015 MONEY: $US359,929 (48th)
Charley Hull is an excitement machine. She turned professional in 2013, aged just 16, and started in spectacular fashion with five consecutive runner-up finishes before another five top-10s earned her LET Rookie of the Year. In 2014 she recorded her maiden victory at the Lalla Meryem Cup and won the LET OOM with 13 top-15s from 17 starts. She finished eighth in 2015 from 11 events, played at the same time as her rookie season on the LPGA Tour where she recorded three top-10s including T7 at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and T2 to Su Hyun Oh at the RACV Australian Ladies Masters. With a fearless playing style and tremendous natural ability, Hull is definitely one to watch.
COUNTRY: South Korea
DATE OF BIRTH: August 25, 1990
WORLD RANKING: 382015 (LPGA): 31 starts, 23 cuts, 1 win, 4 top-10s
2015 MONEY: $US663,576 (20th)
After a stellar 2014 which included a runnerup finish to Karrie Webb in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and ten top-10s on the LPGA Tour, Chella Choi’s 2015 was not to her usual high standard bar it brought her something she had chased hard since her rookie 2009 year – her first W, when she defeated Ha Na Jang in a playoff for the Marathon Classic. It was an emotional victory for both Choi and her caddie father who had said he would retire only when she won, so they could savour the moment together. Generally an excellent scoring player, Choi will be looking to repeat that winning experience soon. Shev certainly has the game to do it here.
COUNTRY: South Korea
DATE OF BIRTH: October 7, 1992
WORLD RANKING: 44
2015 (LPGA): 28 starts, 26 cuts, 0 wins, 3 top-10s
2015 MONEY: $US607,956 (26th)
Jenny Shin moved to the US aged nine, winning the Los Angeles City Championship at 10 and competing in USGA championships at 13, before transitioning into one of the most consistent professionals on the LPGA Tour. She has steadily improved since her rookie 2011 year and in both 2014 and 2015 missed only one cut for the season. What she doesn’t miss is fairways off the tee, finishing fourth, ninth and third in the last three years on driving accuracy. Her record in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open is admirable, finishing seventh in 2012, T18th in 2013, T6th in 2014 and T4 in 2015. Shin’s game should help her navigate The Grange, perhaps to that elusive first LPGA victory.