Takeaways from the first two weeks of the LPGA season
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, Feb. 1, 2024
Happy Golf Thursday, friends! Last week a few friends and I took our annual pilgrimage to Orlando for the PGA Show, but now I’m back and ready to reflect on the first two, very eventful tournaments of 2024. So, let’s just jump right in.
Before I go too far, I do need to plug this lovely little photo of two generations of Golf Thursday.
Okay, now let’s get down to business.
I don’t know if any of us saw Lydia Ko and Nelly Korda coming out of the gates swinging, especially after they both had a lackluster season in 2023. Ko had won early on in Saudia Arabia, but lost momentum as the year progressed. Korda had a winless season, but she’s always one to watch no matter what. The respective Olympic gold and silver medalists were uncharacteristically out of form last season—but no more—I suppose.
Women’s golf is at its peak when the greats are playing their best. I mean seriously…the last hour of the Drive On Championship was some of the best golf we’ve seen in recent memory.
There’s no question that Lydia Ko and Nelly Korda are two of the biggest names in women’s golf. One could argue that they are the faces of the LPGA, especially to those who do not watch women’s golf regularly — they would at least recognize either of those two players. So when their game is firing on cylinders and they’re winning, it makes viewership increase (duh). As a reader of The IX, I feel as though I can assume that we all feel strongly about the vast talent on the LPGA Tour. But as the web of women’s golf continues to grow it’s important to market the more popular players. (This all goes back to Commissioner Samaan’s remarks about developing individual player brands.)
Ko captured her 20th win at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions a couple of weeks back, placing her within a point shy of qualifying for the LPGA’s Hall of Fame. On Sunday, we were all holding our breath wondering if number 21 was to follow suit so soon.
I think we all jumped the gun just a tad, but I have a feeling that Lydia will achieve HOF status by the end of the year. Her mentality is the strongest aspect of her game (besides being able to find the green from literally anywhere). And she admitted to also getting a bit ahead of herself in 2023, “I think last year I was chasing the Hall of Fame,” said Ko. “I felt like I could have – with the way I was playing in 2022 – I could back it up with another great year. Look where it put me.”
And while eyes are on Ko and Korda, don’t sleep on a few other names that have also been in the mix over the last two weeks. Megan Khang finished 11th at HGVLPGA and had a solo third-place finish at Drive On, and certainly gave herself an opportunity to be in the playoff alongside Nelly and Lydia.
Other players who are off to good starts this season are rookies Auston Kim and Mone Inami, along with veteran player Ayaka Furue, who finished T-4 in both events.
The tour is taking a mini hiatus before hitting its first Asian swing of the season the last week of February. The Ladies European Tour will kick its season off in Kenya next week, and the Epson Tour will kick off in March in Florida.
On to links!!!
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This week in women’s golf
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ICYMI: If you missed some of the action last week here are some highlights
Epson Tour News
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Five at The IX: Nelly Korda talks winning in front of a home crowd
Q. Are you going to tell the commissioner that this event needs to come back next year?
NELLY KORDA: I mean, look at the crowds we had. It was amazing. I can’t be the only one to say that — I feel like the support that we all received this week was amazing. It’s always nice to come to a town like this that the entire town gets behind the event.
It makes it way more — it makes it really fun playing in front of them, but there is just a different energy that you get.
Q. I know all of your wins are special. What does this mean to get it done in front of these fans and this super supportive crowd? You spoke to it on the green.
NELLY KORDA: Yeah, every win has a story. This one was definitely — just with the struggles of last year and just with today as well, I thought I completely lost it. Being in my hometown and having the hometown support was incredible. I didn’t think this many people would show up. Even on the first day, Thursday, the amount of people that were out here supporting was incredible.
I couldn’t have done it without all their positive energy.
Q. I know last year might have been a little frustrating, in the top 10 so many times. How gratifying is it to get it done this early in the year when everything else is going on this season?
NELLY KORDA: Yeah, I definitely at the beginning of the year — I would never say golf is easy, but the Top 10s were flowing in a sense. I was just flowing, playing well, but I could never take that step of winning.
I didn’t play my best golf last week, and thankfully I was so thankful that my — that Jamie, my coach, came out for the first three days of this event and that we could put some good work in for this week. I just said my Jamie. My coach Jamie.
Q. Nelly, what a day that was. At one point it looked really tough out there for you. You were fighting everything. What did you do to turn it around though?
NELLY KORDA: Gosh, I thought that the tournament was over going into 17. I just kind of gave myself a chance. I knew that if I rolled that eagle in I had to birdie the last hole.
Yeah, I seem to always make it very dramatic and interesting, so there is no better feeling than to do it in front of a home crowd.
What a day.
Q. Everybody says winning in front of your home crowd is the best. What makes it so special for you?
NELLY KORDA: I think even when I was down they were so, so positive and keeping me in it. It was such a grind out there, so back and forth. I felt like I never really got anything going. But, I mean, I just can’t even believe it right now.
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