Top moments of 2023 for women’s golf — Lydia Ko and Jason Day win at Grant Thornton
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, Dec. 14, 2023
I’d be stating the obvious by saying that this was a busy year in golf, but I truly can’t formulate the words well enough to describe just how monumental (and hectic) 2023 was — and at all levels. So for this Golf Thursday, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
Rose at Mizuho
Rose Zhang took the early part of the summer by storm. After winning the ANWA in April, and then going on to defend her individual natty title — she turns around and declares that she’s going pro, and THEN wins her professional debut tournament at the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open.
It’s something you couldn’t script any better for a movie if you tried.
U.S. Open at Pebble Beach
The LPGA is on a hot streak of getting to (finally) play on iconic courses and venues — and this year we saw the tour take on none other than Pebble Beach in July. The overcast, chilly weekend saw a bright new star emerge in Allisen Corpuz who captured her maiden victory in her sophomore season.
This was also a bit of a farewell to Michelle Wie West who played in her final LPGA event (but the door is still open for Riviera in 2026).
Fitting, that we say hello to a new Hawaiian women’s golf star, and goodbye to the one who paved the way.
The rise of Lilia Vu
Four-time winner, two-time major champion, and World No.1… all in the same season… and just a year after wanting to walk away from golf altogether. The rise of Lilia Vu has been remarkable to witness — and arguably the best golf story of the year.
Spain!!! The Solheim Cup!!!
The Solheim Cup is routinely one of the most anticipated events of the year when it’s on the schedule and this year was no different. With Stacy Lewis at the helm of the Team USA ship, there was a lot of chatter about whether this would be the Americans’ year — it was not, but hope is not lost. They are a young team with a lot of talent (*cough cough* Lilia Vu, Rose Zhang, Allisen Corpuz, and so many more) — and the chances of them winning the cup next year in Virginia are high. But I must give credit where credit is due, and the Europeans have made it apparent that the Americans have to be on their absolute A-game if they even want a chance at winning.
Oh, and watching Carlota Ciganda clinch the cup in front of her home crowd belongs in one of those cool ‘best sports moments’ compilation videos on YouTube.
International Crown back on the schedule
Absent from the LPGA schedule since 2018, the International Crown is another bi-annual team event that reminds us that match play is fun, golf is global, and women are insanely good at this sport.
Lexi’s PGA Tour Debut
She became just the seventh woman to ever do it — Lexi Thompson wrote her name into history books competing in the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas in October — she missed the cut by three strokes.
She absolutely bombs it off the tee, and can give any guy on the PGA Tour a run for their money people were able to witness that firsthand.
Bye bye Golfstat
This was probably the biggest source of drama for the NCAA fall golf season. Over the summer, the NCAA announced that they will be ending a 30-year partnership with Golfstat and moving forward with a new live-scoring system, Spikemark. It didn’t go very well, and once again the NCAA has to pivot and move to another system, Clippd, for live scoring and rankings.
Nevertheless, Golfstat stuck around and did its best to help out and said that it will continue to help out for the sake of the game and for college players trying to live out their dreams.
Wake Forest wins the natty
So many of us have gotten used to Stanford being the crown jewel of women’s college golf, but alas, another team has emerged as the team to beat — Wake Forest, led by Rachel Kuehn (the ninth-ranked women’s amateur player in the world). They had a dominant spring to get them to the desert, and they took care of business in the finals against USC winning all match-ups but one.
But now as we move into the spring season of 2024, the Demon Deacons are the team to beat after an impressive fall showing.
Grant Thornton Invitational
Ending the year and this list on a high is the inaugural Grant Thornton Invitational. The first mixed event of its kind since 1999 surely didn’t disappoint. From matching team fits to hole-in-ones, it was a legendary week that I hope grows into a can’t-miss event for players across both tours.
This week in women’s golf/must-click links
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 firstname.lastname@example.org ! Discussion of any kind is always welcome…I mean it…MESSAGE ME!
The final episode of the LPGA’s Drive On series is out now (at 12:14 you can see me and my mom!!!)
The LET has embraced Gen-Z with Solheim Cup mini-documentary airing live on TikTok (you can still watch it on YouTube)
Epson Tour News
Five at The IX: Lydia Ko and Jason Day win the inaugural Grant Thornton Invitational
Q. Just want to start off with some opening comments from both of you what it was like to get this win.
JASON DAY: I feel like the fans and the players have been wanting something like this for a long time.
It was just fun.
LYDIA KO: This week I think every player that’s here, whether it’s the PGA TOUR player or LPGA
player, I think we’re here for more than just the prize money and winning. It’s about the growth of the game.
It’s great that we got to win on top of that, but I think with the help of Grant Thornton, this is, I think, a start for so many more exciting things to come, and I’m excited to be a part of this partnership.
It’s been an unreal experience to play alongside Jason.
Q. Could you both speak to what you felt like this tournament meant to golf this week and what it’ll mean to golf going forward.
JASON DAY: Yeah, I think Lydia kind of nailed it on the head before in regards to growing the game. I don’t think I’ve seen so many female junior golfers out at an event, especially a PGA TOUR event, as I did see them this week.
This is something that I think we have to keep striving towards. To have the partnership between the two tours and to have the tournament going on, and the way that Grant Thornton put the show on, I think they really, really nailed it this week.
I know that Lydia has talked about growing the game, and you can just see how many young kids are out there watching the game, which is fantastic. Obviously people at home, as well. This has been exciting for us to get together and play, and I know that I’m definitely going to be back next year. I’m hoping that Lydia has me as a partner, as well.
This is something that we can look forward to each and every year, and I hope we keep this going for as long as we can.
LYDIA KO: He said everything needed.
Q. You guys have both said that hopefully this opens the doors to more opportunities like this tournament. Do you have any specific ideas or proposals for what that could look like potentially?
LYDIA KO: I mean, there’s probably other people that have better ideas than something I can come up with. But I think at the end of the day, sometimes there’s a separation between the PGA TOUR, the LPGA Tour and other tours. But we’re all playing the game of golf. We all play it because we love it. It has given us so many great opportunities and experiences.
I think this is just a great example that we’re all just golfers at the end of the day and trying to play the best golf we can and perform at our highest. I think this is just the start of that. Whether it’s another event or something like — I don’t know, there’s a lot more people that’s smarter than me that can come up with great ideas like this, but I think this is just a gateway and a reminder that we’re all here for the game of golf, and I believe that a lot of people are going to take inspiration and get motivated by watching this week.
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