Richard Kaufman's LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour review of 2016
Last Updated: 12/12/16 1:08pm
Richard Kaufman looks back at the highlights from a memorable campaign on the LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour.
Where do you start with these reviews of the year? In the ladies game in 2016, it's actually not that hard. The last 12 months have been everything I wish I was…young and gifted!
Golf is not all about stats, but the average age of the tournament winners on the LPGA Tour was just 22 and the world's top three are all aged under 21. The landscape has changed and I, for one, am not complaining.
Lydia Ko had an 'off season' according to some, but still managed four wins and a major title - how awful!
She is perhaps a victim of her own success, although it is true that most of her success was in the first half of the year. Since winning silver at the Olympics, she has been on her worst stretch of golf since turning pro.
Is Ko's dip a normal case of a teenager showing some inconsistencies or something more? Her caddie has gone and her coach has also been given the boot, so she's going to be one of the interesting plots of 2017.
Ko may still be No 1 in terms world ranking, but there's no doubt the standout player of 2016 has been Ariya Jutunagarn. The big-hitting Thai harnessed her length with the accuracy of her 2-iron and it has probed lethal.
The heartbreak at the opening major of the season wasn't the psychological blow for Jutunagarn it could have been. It proved to be a spur for an amazing run that saw her win, among other events, the Women's British Open. Oh, and she's promising to get the driver out in 2017. We'll see!
Women's golf in the young and cosmopolitan era has not been great for American players, with 2016 seeing the fewest LPGA titles won by USA players ever!
Just Lexi Thompson earlier in the year and Brittany Lang at the US Open won, with the success of the tour hurting the homegrown girls a little. It's just down to numbers, as there are fewer Americans than ever with full time LPGA status.
There was success though for the stars and stripes on this side of the pond, with Beth Allen having an impact on the Ladies European Tour.
Basing herself in Scotland and fulfilling her talent with the aid of a Solheim Cup veteran Sophie Gustafson on the bag, Allen became the first American to win the LET Order of Merit. You can't help but pleased for Beth in a year that also saw her get married and win back her LPGA Tour status.
Another American talent almost walked away with the rookie of the year title in Europe, so I suggest watching out in years to come for Angel Yin. She's just 18 and hits it a mile, so I expect big things from her in 2017.
It was another 18 year-old who stole the rookie show in Europe as Aditi Ashok claimed that crown. It took a while for the Indian star to get her 2016 season into full flow, but once the Indian star showed her potential at the Olympics, she never looked back and posted two wins.
The depth of special young talent emerging is very deep and 2016 took another positive step to increasing standards. A great example of that was one of the best finishes of the season at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, where the ladies who would end the season in the world's top three were in a battle royale.
We may have said goodbye to Se Ri Pak but what a legacy she has left behind, with Korean golf now not only producing talented players but also some great personalities like Ha Na Jang and In Gee Chun - who captured a second major in record breaking scoring style at Evian.
Sung Hyun Park will be a "rookie" in name only in the 2017 LPGA season as she has already broken into the world's top 10, so there's little doubt she will make a similar transition to the one we witnessed from Chun in 2016.
It isn't just fresh, new talent who made a huge mark in the season just gone, with Inbee Park overcoming injury to win gold in Rio. Whatever the misgivings there may have been about the Olympic Games from the male side of golf, there was no scepticism in the ladies game and there were plenty of positives.
The year ended with the most in-form player in the world capturing the final event of the year in style in Dubai.
After winning a bronze medal in Rio, or "rose gold" as she describes it, Shanshan Feng produced a string of results to show she can give the young girls a run for their money in the new year. Jenny, as she's known, picked up three wins with a worst finish of eighth place in her final nine tournaments.
But let's give the last word on the 2016 to the British star who gave us a glimpse that one of our own can live with the best of them. Charley Hull, the down to earth girl from Kettering with a special talent, proved in her last two events of the year that slowly but surely, she is getting closer to the top players in the world.
Her Tour Championship win in Florida was followed by a pub crawl with her mates back home to celebrate, before she ended her season with a runner-up finish in the Ladies European Tour season finale in Dubai.
2016 really was one of the best.