Mid-season LPGA in review — Leona Maguire is a star — Must-click women’s golf links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, July 7, 2022
Happy Golf Thursday, everyone! If you can believe it, we are at the mid-point of the 2022 season, and it feels like the perfect time to recap the biggest moments from women’s golf so far. Like our friend Joey, we’ll take it month by month, so, strap in and journey down memory lane with me.
The beginning of the year brought on a lot of anticipation for what “could be”. 2021 left big shoes to fill, with new sponsors and a new commissioner, the January events proved to be great starts to the year. The season’s kickoff at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions had a celebrity field, concerts, and Danielle Kang opened 2022 with a bang! It was her first win since 2019, and it was nice to her back in the winner’s circle. The Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio saw an epic duel between Lydia Ko and Kang, but ultimately Ko’s putting proved to be too pure.
February only had one LPGA event, but it was Leona Maguire’s time to shine. The Ireland native got her first tour title at the Drive On Championship!
February’s light schedule set up perfectly for a jam-packed March. After it’s Florida-leg in January and February, the LPGA headed to Asia where World No. 1 Jin Young Ko made her season debut…and won. There was talk about if she could continue her domination, and needless to say she silenced any and all doubts. With the LPGA operating like the energizer bunny, the newly named Epson Tour had its season debut in the beginning of the month at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic. The second half of March is where the drama kicked off with Nelly Korda’s health scare. She announced on her social media accounts that she had suffered a blood clot in her arm and would be out of tournament play for a while. This meant that she’d miss the first major of the year, the Chevron Championship, which kicked off on the final day of the month. This year’s Chevron Championship is also where we kissed Mission Hills goodbye, as Jennifer Kupcho took the final dive into Poppy’s Pond.
April had a bit of a rain cloud casted over it with the passing of LPGA founder Shirley Spork. Shirley was a legend and she was deeply admired by everyone she touched. But as the older generation of golf begin to leave us, the new generation has arrived, and no one proved that better than Anna Davis at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Davis captured everyone’s attention with her signature bucket hat and cool demeanor.
In May, the ladies of the LPGA took the back seat, while the game’s best collegiate players gave us a post season to remember. For the first time EVER, No.1 and No.2 ranked teams would face each other for the NCAA national championship title. Stanford and Oregon were the teams to beat all season long, but Rose freaking Zhang, the freshman star and 2022 ANNIKA Award recipient clutched it out to claim the individual title and the team title for Stanford! This was by far my favorite NCAA title match to watch ever.
Two majors, one month, and lots and lots of money! In June we were blessed with the second and third majors of the season: the US Open (USWO) and The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. But let’s back up. The USWO was the event of the season…literally. It had EVERYTHING. The biggest purse in women’s golf history, the farewell of Michelle Wie West, Annika, amateurs setting records, women in turf setting the stage, Nelly’s return to competitive golf, and Danielle Kang’s devastating announcement of her tumor. And let’s not forget…Minjee Lee being an absolute baller all week long, taking home the big check. We also saw Brooke Henderson back in the winner’s circle in June, prior to the Women’s PGA at Congressional. And then there was Congressional, which also had its fair share of drama with pace of play and the fact that while the LPGA was in the backyard of our national’s capital — SCOTUS came out with the worst time machine ever.
It’s been a wild season, and this without all the drama from men’s golf including Tiger’s return, the never ending LIV drama, and much much more. We brace ourselves for what’s to come. More majors, Q-School in a month, and colleges will be back in session.
What do you hope to see in the second half of the season?
“Although we try to control it in a million different ways, the only things you can ever really do to time are enjoy it, or waste it. That’s it.”— A.J. Compton
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This week in women’s golf
If you have links you wish to share for Golf Thursday, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything at all, you can email me at email@example.com ! Discussion of any kind is always welcome…I mean it…MESSAGE ME!
History has a unique way of repeating itself. But also, money isn’t everything. Former LPGA player Beth Daniel learned these valuable lessons in 1981. She shared her thoughts on the ramifications of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in golf, calling it what it is…a violation of human rights.
Women’s golf is lucky to have someone like Lisa Cornwell as an advocate. She isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions, prime example with this Twitter thread on this week’s LET event…
This is note-worthy stuff, and I will absolutely be paying closer attention, especially with Q-School beginning in one month.
On the topic of LIV and Aramco…the Korda sisters have committed to playing in next month’s Aramco Series event in Spain. This will be their second Aramco series event, having played in last year’s debut Aramco Team Series – New York, the first ever Ladies European Tour event to be played on U.S soil. I’ve expressed my overall weariness towards Saudi-backed golf, and I’m not sure how I feel about this decision given all the drama in recent months. What are your thoughts?? Message me!!!
For now, let’s shift our focus to a name you should have on your radar…Maja Stark. Stark just claimed her fourth LET title, and second win of the year, over the weekend at the Amundi German Masters, and is atop the Race to Costa Del Sol. She’s also the defending champ of this week’s Estrella Damm Ladies Open in Spain.
I hate to end this set of links with bad news, but this lovely tribute to Lady Angela Bonallack, who passed away last Friday, taught me that she was one of Great Britain and Ireland’s finest amateur golfers. May she rest in peace.
Epson Tour News
Well this was fun (and totally such a teenage way to answer these questions)!!! Good luck, Gianna!
Follow the leaderboard for what will happen this weekend in Albany!
In more Epson news, we say goodbye to player Beth Wu, as she enters the next stage in her golf journey as Assistant Coach for the University of Florida Women’s Golf team!
Interesting read from Golfweek: NIL celebrates one year: How has it changed college athletics — especially golf? What are your thoughts?
Five at The IX: Quick Quotes from Leona Maguire from the JP McManus Pro AM
There’s nothing to say other than she’s great for women’s golf.
Q. Give us a sense of what it means to be here and what this event is all about?
LEONA MAGUIRE: It’s an incredibly special event. It’s a testament to JP, an event that he’s put on to get the very best players in the world here and I’m just fortunate to be a part of this and it’s an incredible venue. We’ve had a few incredible days so far. It’s been amazing and the course is fantastic, hotel is one of best in the world. The food’s been amazing.
Overall, we haven’t even started the competition yet and it’s been incredible, so, yeah, just a special week.
Q. Give us your thoughts on how good that golf course is out there.
LEONA MAGUIRE: Yeah, it’s definitely one of the best golf courses I’ve ever played. It’s immaculate, like being on carpet most of the time. The aprons are like greens in most places. So yes, the greens are tricky, lots of run-offs and big slopes, but yeah, it’s a fantastic venue.
Q. What are you looking forward to most over the next two days?
LEONA MAGUIRE: I think for me, being back home playing in front of Irish fans, it will be really special. There’s a greater buzz about the event. There’s supposed to be 35,000, 40,000 thousand people in the gates. We don’t normally get that in LPGA events.
So to get that at home is going to be really special to have people cheering on. I’m sandwiched between Rory and Tiger today, so most of the fans might be in front of me and behind me. But it’s cool, any time you get to play at home is special, and somewhere like this is even better.
Q. Just as far as it applies to your own game, after winning early year this season, did you set new goals for the rest of the year?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Yeah it was nice to get a win under my belt so early in the season. Didn’t expect it that early. The goal was to put myself in contention as many times as I could this year. Did a few weeks ago at Meier and came up a little bit short in the playoff. I think special attention to the majors in the next few weeks, Evian and British Open coming up. So they are sort of where the focus is right now.
Q. Just ask you how you are enjoying your time at home. Is it nice to get a bit of a break and refresh before the big tournaments coming up?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Absolutely. I haven’t had much of a break. I’ve been flat-out since I’ve been home. I’m fortunate that these few days happened to work well with my schedule and having an absolute ball this week. Really enjoy being home. Don’t get home too often these days, so this is a special place to spend a few days with my mom and my dad, my brother and sister are here. Very special week.
Q. Does it give you a chance to pause and look back and appreciate the success you’ve had this year?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Never in a million years would I have dreamed to be at something like this. These are the lads I group up watching on telly, and all the crowds and everything very fortunate that JP has me here this week, and yeah, I’m enjoying it as much as I can.
Q. On the couple of days here, you are blessed amongst men, the amateurs and the pros. Would you like to see more women on the list if the tournament happens again?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Yeah, I suppose fortunate that I’m here. There was none the last time. Every year there’s progress. There’s a few really good ladies playing. You never know, there might be a few ladies on the amateur teams that are up on the top of the leaderboard. The more ladies, the better.
Q. You played on the best golf courses in the world. How would you compare the greens and the playability of the greens here at Adare to them?
LEONA MAGUIRE: These are some of the best in the world. They are maybe not at top speed this week to make sure it’s still playable. Some of the greens are huge with big run-offs and others are trickier where you have to manage your distance control into them.
Like I said, the aprons around some of these greens are better than the greens we play on the LPGA. Try not to take too many divots around the greens this week.
Q. Just wondering in terms of consistency this year, it’s been a little bit up-and-down. Would you be happy just to miss a few cuts and win a major or do you like to be consistent every week?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Yeah, I mean, ultimately, you’d like to be up near the top of the leaderboard every week but that’s golf. The only cut I’ve missed have been on poa annua grass, so haven’t quite got the hang of that yet. I’ve won once and lost in a playoff once. I’d have taken that at the start of the year, top 10 in the U.S. Open.
I know how to contend so it’s just a case of trying to do that more and more throughout the year.
Q. Just a quick question, whether our hosts this evening, today and tomorrow, JP and the McManus family, what’s it been like to be with them over the last few days?
LEONA MAGUIRE: Incredible. JP and Noreen, they have really pushed out the wood. There has been no stone left unturned and they have been very personal. They have been at the dinners every night, talking to every and shaking hands with everybody. It’s a nice bonus that Limerick got the win yesterday for JP. It’s an incredible event to be part of and what they have done for the local community here in Limerick and the Midwest is fantastic.
So any bit we can do this year this week to help is only a bonus.
Q. Have you met Tiger yet?
LEONA MAGUIRE: I’ve not. I see him arrive, I was hitting balls when he achieved in the chopper yesterday. I haven’t seen him.
Q. Are you going to chase him up, being the group behind him?
LEONA MAGUIRE: I shouldn’t hit into him, there won’t be any fear of that. I saw Tiger at The Ryder Cup in 2006 and got my picture taken. We’ll see if we can replicate that this week.
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