Star-studded freshman class guarantees tight race for top LPGA rookie in 2020

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Star-studded freshman class guarantees tight race for top LPGA rookie in 2020

LPGA Tour

Star-studded freshman class guarantees tight race for top LPGA rookie in 2020

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This year’s Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year contest was such a runaway that winner Jeongeun Lee6 spent months working on her acceptance speech. The 2020 campaign should prove to be much a tighter race.

Of the tour’s 19 rookies, several have already made big impressions on the LPGA. Some are among the most decorated players to come out of collegiate golf in recent years, including Duke’s Leona Maguire and Andrea Lee of Stanford, who won a program record nine times for the Cardinal.

Of course, Lee’s priority ranking (161st) makes it difficult to know how many starts she’ll get at the start of the year. A strong early showing would put in her good position for the spring reshuffle, the route Cheyenne Knight took in 2019. Knight made the most of the opportunity, winning the last full-field event on the LPGA schedule in Texas.

Esther Henseleit, at No. 162, is in a similar position. The German rookie recently secured the Order of Merit title on the Ladies European Tour after a victory in Kenya.

Here are five standouts with strong status to keep an eye on next season:

Patty Tavatanakit, Thailand

UCLA star turned pro after the spring season and made it look easy on the Symetra Tour, winning three times in her first eight starts. An explosive player who shot 61 in the final round of the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.

Yealimi Noh, U.S.

Made a run at two LPGA titles in 2019 after Monday-qualifying for both events. The 2018 U.S. Girls’ Junior champ finished second at the Cambia Portland Classic. Made a name for herself quickly as a pro despite having no status on any tour.

Leona Maguire, Ireland

No one spent more time at the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking than Maguire. One of the best players in the history of college golf, the Duke grad finished seventh on the Symetra Tour money list to earn her card for 2020.

Haley Moore, U.S. ­

Graduated from Arizona and LPGA Q-Series before she even turned 21. The ceiling is high for a player who is learning how to keep her emotions in check. No stranger to the big stage, Moore is familiar with pressure.

Albane Valenzuela, Switzerland

Former Olympian and Stanford star is a seasoned player when it comes to professional events, particularly the majors. A two-time runner-up at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, skipped her final semester of college to make a run at Tokyo 2020.

The following is the complete list of 2020 LPGA rookies, with their priority ranking in parenthesis:

2019 Symetra Tour graduates

Patty Tavatanakit, Thailand (95)
Jillian Hollis, U.S. (98)
Leona Maguire, Ireland (100)
Esther Lee, U.S. (102)

LPGA Q-Series top 45 and ties

Yealimi Noh, U.S. (128)
Albane Valenzuela, Switzerland (135)
Jennifer Chang, U.S. (138)
Yui Kawamoto, Japan (137)
Haley Moore, U.S. (143)
Jiwon Jeon, South Korea (147)
Maia Schechter, U.S. (150)
Matilda Castren, Finland (154)
Linnea Johansson, Sweden (156)
Andrea Lee, U.S. (161)
Esther Henseleit, Germany (162)
Yujeong Son, South Korea (163)
Nuria Iturrioz, Spain (165)
Bianca Pagdanganan, Philippines (167)
Kyung Kim, U.S. (169)

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