Four Rookies to Watch
With another LPGA Tour season, comes another class of fresh-faced rookies looking to make their marks in their first year on Tour. Here are four newcomers to keep an eye out for in 2014.
People will probably forget that Lydia Ko will be a Tour rookie this season after her incredible run as an amateur over the past two seasons. She already has two LPGA Tour wins to her name, but the 16-year old from New Zealand will be carrying some of the heaviest expectations for a first-year member in LPGA history. All eyes will be on Ko as she enters the 2014 season ranked No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s Golf Rankings.
Jaye Marie Green
Green stole the show at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament in December after shattering Q School scoring records. She put on an impressive display of poise and consistency through the five-day marathon event and is a promising up-and-comer for the young American contingent on Tour. She shot all five rounds in the 60’s and finished at 29-under par, 10 strokes ahead of runner-up Mi Rim Lee. The 19-year old also has an entire professional season under her belt which could help the transition process. She competed on the Symetra Tour – Road to the LPGA full time last year and recorded three top-10 finishes.
Lin brings more youthful talent to the LPGA Tour and will be another teenager trying to make waves in her first season. The 17-year old has strong ties to three-time LPGA Tour winner and major champ, Shanshan Feng and hopes to become the second Chinese-born player to win on Tour. Lin hails from the same hometown as Feng and says it was the Tour veteran’s father who introduced her to the game back in China. She already has three professional wins (all on the CLPGA) and has had solid performances as a non-member on several big stages on the LPGA Tour already. Lin tied for 17th at the RICOH Women’s British Open and tied for 23rd in front of her compatriots at the Reignwood LPGA Classic last year.
Molinaro has proven to make developments to her game and to put up big finishes. The Italy native knocked nearly three strokes off her scoring average in her senior year at Arizona State en route to Pac-12 Player of the Year and First-Team All-American honors in 2012. The 23-year old shined in her first professional season on the Symetra Tour in 2013 and picked up her first victory as a pro at the Friends of Mission Charity Classic. Heading into the final two Symetra Tour tournaments, Molinaro sat in a tie for 11th in the Volvik Race for the Card standings. She made a season-ending push and finished third and fourth at the final events to jump into second place on the Tour’s final money list. Her $39,848 total also earned her Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year honors.