LPGA wins back-to-back weeks for the first time in two years… Is Korean women’s golf making a comeback?
Can South Korean women’s golf regain its former prominence on the U.S. Women’s Professional Golf Association (LPGA) stage? After two straight wins by South Korean players, expectations are high for the Taegeuks to perform this fall.
Kim Hyo-ju (28, Rodeo), who has five career LPGA wins, finally broke through. Kim won the Ascendant LPGA ($1.8 million purse) on Sept. 9 at the par-71 Old American Golf Club in The Colony, Texas, USA. It was a wire-to-wire victory where she held the lead throughout the tournament.
It was her first LPGA Tour victory in a year and six months since the Lotte Championship in April. After finishing runner-up twice since winning the Lotte Championship, Kim didn’t let the competition catch up to her this time around and won her sixth career LPGA title.
A week earlier, rookie Hae-ran Lee (22-DAOL Financial Group), who made her LPGA debut after being named the 2020 Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) Rookie of the Year, earned her first career victory.
Like Kim, Hae-ran won wire-to-wire, never losing the lead throughout the tournament. Hae-ran won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship ($2.3 million purse) at Pinnacle Country Club (Par 71) in Rogers, Arkansas, USA, on April 2.
Hae-ran, who earned her LPGA Tour card last year by finishing first on the Qualifying (Q) Series, earned her first career victory in just her 20th start.
A former Rookie of the Year on the KLPGA Tour, Hae-ran will attempt to break the record for the most Korean-American Rookie of the Year, a feat that has only been accomplished by two players in history. 먹튀검증토토사이트 Only Shin Ji-ae and Lee Jeong6 have won rookie titles in both Korea and the United States.
It will be the first time in two years that a Korean player has won two tournaments in a row since October 2021. At that time, Ko Jin-young won the BMW Ladies Championship after winning the Cognizant Founders Cup.
However, Ko’s back-to-back victories in 2021 were not technically back-to-back weeks. The Buick LPGA Shanghai, which was scheduled to take place between the two events, was canceled due to COVID-19.
Her first literal back-to-back came in December 2020. On December 13, Kim topped the leaderboard at the U.S. Women’s Open, followed by Jin Young Ko at the CME Group Tour Championship on December 20.
South Korea, which until then had maintained its status as a women’s golf powerhouse, fell into a slump in the middle of last year. After Jeon won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in June last year, she went winless in 18 tournaments on tour until March this year. The dominance of Thai players has led to a rush to conclude that Korea’s glory days are over.
Only Jin-young Ko has been a bright spot in a difficult situation. Despite battling the effects of a wrist injury, he broke his winless streak by winning the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March and followed it up with another victory at the Cognizant Founders Cup in May.
In the wake of Ko’s struggles, the Korean women’s golf scene is showing signs of resurgence, with Hae-ran Hae and Hyo-joo Kim opening the season with back-to-back wins.
As the excitement builds, an LPGA Tour event will be held in South Korea following the Shanghai event on Sept. 12. The BMW Ladies Championship, the only LPGA Tour event to be held in Korea, will be held at Seowon Hills Course at Seowon Valley CC in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, starting on April 19. It will be interesting to see if Korean players can win again on home soil and officially declare the resurgence of women’s golf in Korea.