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​LPGA Players to Watch This Year

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Only the best make it onto the LPGA Tour—the cream of the crop, the elite. These ladies are not your Sunday golfers who drive around the course in their custom golf carts playing 9 holes with their husbands.

Anyone that believes golf is just a hobby best enjoyed after retirement has never met these women! It takes extreme dedication and plenty of hard work to get to their level, but the rewards are well worth it.

2017 is a history-making year for the LPGA. There are four new events this year, both overseas and in North America, bringing this year's total to 35. The famed Solheim Cup is also back in the U.S.

There is the new addition of $4.35 million in prize money this year. The total purse money this season is nothing to sneeze at, being the biggest ever at $67.35 million.



Mi Jung Hur

Since her rookie year in 2009, and with 25 career top ten finishes, Korea's Mi Jung Hur just keeps getting better. She had two victories on the Tour—the Safeway Classic in 2009, and the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic in 2014.

2016 was an exciting year for 5'10" Hur. She played in 26 events, with cuts made in 21, crossed the $2 million in earnings mark, tied her career lowest round score after shooting 63 during the Reignwood LPGA Classic, and finished out the year as the Tour's co-leader with two holes-in-one, ranked 9th in eagles (8), and ranked 6th in putts per GIR (1.73)

Additionally, she shot her lowest ever Tournament score to par (-23) at the Reignwood LPG Classic, winning $50,000 in the Final Five Challenge sponsored by Redbull.

Total career earnings are $3,707,700.

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Ariya Jutanugarn

Thailand's 5'7" Ariya Jutanugarn debuted strongly in her 2015 rookie year. Not only did she qualify for the Tour on her first attempt, but she also had four finishes in the top ten and took home 6th place in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race.

She had six victories on the Tour, which she qualified for on her first attempt, including the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic in 2016 and the Manulife LPGA Classic in 2017.

During 2016, Jutanugarn played in 28 events, with cuts made in 27. She racked up 11 more top ten finishes and led the Tour in wins (5). She also broke the record for birdies in a season previously held by Stacy Lewis to lead the Tour with 469.

Winning the RICOH Women's British Open was a special coup for Ariya since it earned her the distinction of being the first-ever major champion from Thailand to win (female or male).

In the Rolex Player of the Year's 50-year history, Jutanugarn became the second youngest player to hold the title, scoring 20 points more than the previous winner, Lydia Ko.

Other highlights from the year include becoming the second player to win the Race to the CME Globe, the Rolex Player of the Year, and the LPGA Official Money Title, all in the same year after her T4 finish during the CME Group Tour Championship.

Total career earnings are $4,012,635.

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Brooke Henderson


This tiny 5'4" Canadian is something special, eh? The Ottawa, Ontario native exploded onto the scene in 2015. Commissioner Mike Whan granted her immediate membership into the LPGA after her stunning 8-shot victory at the Cambia Portland Classic—the Tour's largest margin in 2015.

Henderson has four Tour victories under her belt, including the Cambia Portland Classic in 2015, where she played as a non-member. Other notable wins are the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, Cambia Portland Classic in 2016, and the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give in 2017.

In the 2016 season, she played in 31 events, with cuts made in 30. Her victory at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship saw her become the second youngest player in the history of the LPGA, behind Lydia Ko, to win a major championship.

She ranked second in top ten finishes (15), second in birdies (455), also breaking Stacy Lewis' previous record, tied her career lowest round score three times (65), had the Tour's highest number of starts (31), and placed a respectable third on the LPGA Official Money List.

Total career earnings are $2,863,403.

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Sung Hyun Park

She may be new to the Tour, debuting as a rookie only this year, but Korea's Sung Hyun Park is already off to a strong start. The 5'6" Park achieved a great win when she took first in the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA.


During 2016, she became a fan favorite, competing in seven LPGA tourneys. During her first appearance in a USGA tournament, she tied for third in the U.S. Women's Open.

Her highlight reel includes four top 10 places: T2 in the Evian Championship, T3 in the U.S. Women's Open, T4 in the KIA Classic, and T6 in the ANA Inspiration.

Twenty-eight rounds were played on the LPGA. Twelve of those rounds were in the 60s. During the Evian Championship, Park played four rounds and shot 63-68-67-69.

She was the player with the most earnings on the KPLGA (Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association) and won seven times. Her membership into the LPGA was earned for 2017 through the LPGA Priority List (non-member Top 40 category 10).

In 2016, Park was the only non-member of the LPGA to be in the current top ten when the Rolex Rankings placed her 10th in December.

Total career earnings are $1,541,115.

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In-Kyung Kim

Since her original debut as a rookie in 2007, 5'3" Kim has notched her belt with seven Tour victories. On her win list includes the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in 2012, the Reignwood LPGA Classic in 2016, and the ShopRite LPGA Classic, Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning in 2017.

2016 was an exceptional year for Kim. She played in 17 events, with cuts made in 15. She earned three more finishes in the top ten and earned her fourth career victory. At the Reignwood LPGA Classic, her win included a tournament record low score in relation to par (-24).

After finishing T6 in the ShopRite LPG Classic, she crossed the career earnings mark of $7 million. Also during the season, while playing on the LET (Ladies European Tour), Kim grabbed her third LET win during the ISPS Honda Ladies European Masters.

Total career earnings are $8,653,477.

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Lexi Thompson


The USA has a strong contenderin 6-foot-tall Thompson. Since her rookie year in 2012, she has accumulated eight Tour victories.

Among those on her victory list include: the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2014; the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship and the Meijer LPGA Classic, both in 2015; the Honda LPGA Thailand in 2016; and the Kingsmill Championship in 2017.

During the 2016 season on the Tour, Thompson played in 19 events, with cuts made in 18. Over the past four seasons, she has won one event, making hers the second longest LPGA tour streak.

She ranked 10th in scoring average (70.37), first in eagles (13), fourth in GIR (76.94%), and second in driving distance (277.40).

Total career earnings are $6,754,152.

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Sei Young Kim

This tiny 5'3" Korean powerhouse has impressed everyone since her rookie year in 2015. She should be very proud of her six career wins. 


Her list of wins includes the following: a T25 finish in the 2016 Rio Olympics, the KIA Most Compelling Performance Award in 2015, the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year in 2015, and the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic in 2015.

Her luck continued the next season with the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give and the JTBC Founders Cup, both in 2016, and the Citibank Amex Lorena Ochoa Match Play in 2017.

During 2016, she played in 25 events, with cuts made in 21. Seven more finishes in the top ten were added to her score, along with two more wins.

Kim ranked eighth in scoring average (70.25), in putts per GIR (1.76), fourth in average driving distance (271.63), third in eagles, sixth in rounds in the 60s (43), and fifth in birdies (390). She also posted a record of 3-1-0 at the UL International Crown where she represented the Republic of Korea.

Total career earnings are $4,261,398.

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Cristae Kerr

Also from the U.S., 5'3" Cristae Kerr debuted her rookie year in 1997, after qualifying on her first attempt for the Tour. She has an impressive career to date with 19 career victories.

From 2002 to 2005, her list of victories includes the Longs Drugs Challenge in 2002, the LPGA Takefuji Classic in 2004, and the Wendy's Championship for Children and the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill, both in 2005.

From 2006 to 2010, she had victories at the Franklin American Mortgage Challenge in 2006, the U.S. Women's Open in 2007, the Safeway Classic in 2008, the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill in 2009, and the LPGA State Farm Classic in 2010.

2011 to 2017 show that Kerr is still a force to be reckoned with. There was the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in 2012, the Kingsmill Championship in 2013, the KIA Classic, CME Group Tour Championship in 2015, and the Hershey's LOTTE Championship in 2017.

During the season in 2016, she played in 25 events, with cuts made in 22. She added four top-ten finishes to her list and was also a member of the UL International Crown's United States team. She posted a record of 3-1-0 at the event, a team best.

Total career earnings are $18,604,219.

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So Yeon Ryu


Korea's So Yeon Ryu made the best choice of her life when she took up extracurricular golf at school in second grade. Since her rookie year in 2012, Ryu has four Tour victories.

Included on her victory list is the U.S. Women's Open in 2011, the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year in 2012, the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic in 2012, the Canadian Pacific Women's Open in 2014, and the ANA Inspiration in 2017.

During 2016, she played in 24 events, with cuts made in all 24. As of the start of the 2017 season, she is currently on a streak of 55 cuts made. She ranked sixth in scoring average and tenth in rounds under par.

Also in 2016, she posted a record of 3-1-0 at the UL International Crown as a member of Team Korea.

Total career earnings are $8,315,473.

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Michelle Wie


As one of the other tallest players at 6', Michelle Wie started playing the game at the tender age of four. Since her rookie year in 2009, after qualifying for the Tour on the first try, she has four Tour victories to be proud of.

On her victory list is the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in 2009, the CN Canadian Women's Open in 2010, the LPGA LOTTE Championship in 2014, and the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award Winner in 2014.

During the 2016 season, she played in 25 events, with cuts made in 13. Her biggest accomplishment of the year was at the Blue Jay LPGA, where her T10 finish was a season best.

Total career earnings are $6,093,064.


The dominance of golfers from Korea is a trend we have seen since the early part of the 21st century. On the Tour in 2009, 122 players were non-American. Out of the 27 countries participating, 4 players were from Japan, 5 from Taiwan, 7 from Canada, 8 from the United Kingdom, 14 from Sweden, and 47 from South Korea.

Several awards are presented annually by the LPGA. Three of them, the Vare Trophy, the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, and the Rolex Player of the Year, are all based on the results of scoring throughout the year.

The only golfer to ever win all three in the same year was American player Nancy Lopez in 1978.

Final Thoughts

The Ladies Professional Golf Association is the United States' oldest women's professional sports organization. Founded by a group of 13 golfers in 1950, the number of women entering the sport is rising.

Once thought of as only a sport for men, the ladies on the list above prove that women can compete as well as men do, and they are not just driving around the golf course on their carts to gossip with their friends.

Girls who think golfing should only be a hobby and not a career need to look at the accomplishments of any of the women on the LPGA Tour.

Not only have they made names for themselves, but they are also breathing new life into one of the world's oldest sports.

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