Meet the 2023 LPGA rookies — Must-click women’s golf links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, Dec. 15, 2022
Happy Golf Thursday y’all! The end of 2022 is rapidly approaching, and this past week was the final push for 2023 playing cards in Dothan, Alabama. Let’s take a look into which rookies earned their cards for next year, and the biggest storylines to come out of the last two weeks.
Please note that some of these players may have already played on the LPGA Tour but lost their cards at some point, not all players are technically rookies, but for the sake of today’s topic I want to highlight some of the newbies.
Also note that prior to the start of Q School, the top-10 finishers on the Epson Tour money list are considered Epson Tour Graduates, and those players had already secured their cards for 2023.
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The full list of rookies and where they are from are as follows:
2022 EPSON TOUR GRADUATES (8)
Celine Borge (Norway), Hyo Joon Jang (Republic of Korea), Grace Kim (Australia), Lucy Li (United States), Yan Liu (People’s Republic of China), Kiira Riihijarvi (Finland), Gabriella Then (United States), Xiaowen Yin (People’s Republic of China)
LPGA Q-SERIES TOP-45 AND TIES (23)
Jaravee Boonchant (Thailand), Manon De Roey (Belgium), Sofia Garcia (Paraguay), Soo Bin Joo (Republic of Korea), Minami Katsu (Japan), Aline Krauter (Germany), Ines Laklalech (Morocco), Roberta Liti (Italy), Polly Mack (Germany), Yuna Nishimura (Japan), Alexa Pano (United States), Kum-Kang Park (Republic of Korea), Valery Plata (Colombia), Riley Rennell (United States), Hae Ran Ryu (Republic of Korea), Magdalena Simmermacher (Argentina), Ellinor Sudow (Sweden), Bailey Tardy (United States), Natthakritta Vongtaveelap (Thailand), Samantha Wagner (United States), Chanettee Wannasaen (Thailand), Laura Wearn (United States), Arpichaya Yubol (Thailand)
Bailey Tardy, the 26-year-old Georgia Bulldog, has been one of the biggest stars of Q School. During her time at UGA she was the person to beat, she was deemed one-to-watch in her rise to professional golf, but this game is tricky. Tardy suffered some brutal missed cuts, physical ailments keeping her from succeeding in 2019.
In 2020, the pandemic altered everything, including the number for qualifying sports available. In a normal year, 10 LPGA Tour cards are handed out at the end of the Epson Tour season, but in 2020 the number had been cut to five. Tardy finished sixth, with the money margin being just $343.
She came back again in 2021, putting the past in the rearview mirror, and yet, she still struggled. Tardy had three top-5 finishes but missed seven cuts. When the final putt fell at the Epson Tour Championship, she had missed her card again, finishing 12th on the money list, two spots shy of LPGA Tour Membership.
Like any person, Tardy was in a funk. It’s difficult to shake the torment of her near misses. Q Series was her last shot and she wasn’t going to miss. 43 birdies in 144 holes put Tardy in solo second, finally clinching her LPGA card.
When asked what it means to have her name listed as a 2023 LPGA Tour rookie, Tardy spoke candidly: “It means the world. It’s something that I’ve always dreamt of and it’s here. I can’t wait to start next year. I want to start tomorrow.”
Much like Bailey Tardy, we’ve seen quite a few members of the incoming rookie class compete on the LPGA circuit as amateurs but now they’ve entered the big league and they are just getting started. From Lucy Li, Alexa Pano, Xiaowen Yin, Gina Kim, and Gabby Then — the 2023 season will feature some of the best talent I think women’s golf has ever seen.
The 2023 schedule has been set, and the first event kicks off January 19 at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in Orlando, Florida.
This week in women’s golf
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Epson Tour News
The disparity is never-ending at this point. This email to a player who has Epson Tour status exposed a club for recognizing pro status, but only for men.
Just two GOATs.
Five at The IX: Quick quotes from Q Series
“Earning this tour card means a lot, especially on the number one tour in the world. To be the first to finish makes me even prouder. And also to be the second Korean winner in a row.” – Hae Ran Ryu, Q Series medalist, on what earning a playing card as the second Korean winner in a row. Last year, Na Rin An took the top spot to earn her card.
“I initially was disappointed that I lost my card and had to come back here, but I think the fact that I didn’t play golf for 16 months was – I kind of don’t give myself enough credit sometimes I don’t think.” – Charlotte Thomas, on the struggles and health issues she’s faced the last couple of years.
“I’ve been dreaming it for a long time. I want my best buddy to be out here with me. Maybe it’s a selfish reason of mine, but I was like, I’m going to help her and we’re going to go travel together next year. I’m going to make it happen. Well, she made to happen, but it was just great to be able to watch it firsthand and see her succeed.” – Gina Kim, Epson Tour grad, was with her former Duke teammate and best friend Jaravee Boonchant as she Boonchant secured her spot on tour for next season.
“I actually told my caddie just walking down, I think 15, and really anybody close to me knows that I wasn’t even going to sign up for Q-II. I think I signed up 15 minutes before the deadline, and that was because my coach told me to and was like, this is your opportunity, you can’t give that up. I didn’t want to come to Q-School at all. Even at the beginning of the year I told everyone, I’m not going to Q-School. I’m not doing it. That’s not what I want to do. And I’m so happy I did. [laughter.]” – Bailey Tardy when asked if this is what she had envisioned for herself at the beginning of the year. Tardy finished at 7-under, a bogey free round, to secure her card after three straight years of misfortune and near misses.
“It’s amazing to have my LPGA card for next year. I’m very happy and proud, not only for me, but for my whole country and for the Arab world as well. I hope this is going to inspire a lot of people as the National Team inspired me this week.” – Ines Lakalech is the first woman of Arab and North African heritage, and the first Moroccan to play of the LPGA tour. She drew her strength and confidence through watching the Men’s Moroccan National team compete in the World Cup.
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