LPGA tees off 2022 season with Tournament of Champions
The Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions opens the 2022 LPGA season with 29 LPGA title holders coming together with 50 celebrities and amateurs on Thursday at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club in Orlando, Florida. Four Koreans — Park In-bee, Kim A-lim, Lee Mi-rim and Park Hee-young — will play the event.
Only LPGA title holders from the last two years can enter the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament and Park In-bee is the only player with a win from last year. Kim, Lee and Park Hee-young all qualify with 2020 titles.
Park In-bee has the latest win of the four players, having won the Kia Classic on March 25, 2021, five strokes ahead of runners-up Amy Olson and Lexi Thompson of the United States. She also has a win from 2020, having won the ISPS Honda Women's Australian Open with a 14-under-par, 278, three strokes over Olson.
Kim won the U.S. Women’s Open on Oct. 12, 2020, carding a three-under-par, 281, one stroke over country woman Ko Jin-young and Olson.
Lee won the ANA Inspiration on Sep. 13, 2020 after a playoff against Brooke Henderson of Canada and Nelly Korda of the United States.
Park Hee-young won the ISPS Honda Vic Open on Jun. 2, 2020 after a playoff against Choi Hye-jin and Ryu So-yeon. After Ryu was eliminated on the second hole, Park won with par on the fourth extra hole.
The last Korean to win the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament was Ji Eun-hee in 2019, carding 14-under-par, 270, two strokes ahead of Lee.
This season, Korean golfers will try to defend their title in eight events with a little extra incentive — the total LPGA Tour purse has increased to $85.7 million across the 34 official events. With increased interest in the LPGA Tour, nine tournaments increased their purse for the 2022 season.
The three biggest increases will be at the Chevron Championship, where the purse is now 5 million dollars, 1.9 million more than in 2021. The AIG Women’s Open has increased its purse size by 1.3 million dollars and the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, where Ko won her last trophy of 2021, will increase its purse by 2 million dollars. Ko will be hoping to defend her CME title as the CME winner will receive 2 million dollars, the largest first-place prize in the history of professional women’s golf.
The 2022 season kicks off with three weeks in Florida. The Tour will then enter a two-week Asian swing with stops in Singapore and Thailand for the HSBC Women’s World Championship and Honda LPGA Thailand.
The LPGA Tour will come to Korea in October for a joint tournament between the KLPGA and LPGA, the BMW Ladies Championship. The BMW Championship was held at LPGA International Busan in Busan last year, when Ko won her 11th career title, her fourth victory of the season and Korea’s 200th LPGA title.
This Thursday, not only professional golfers but also 50 celebrity and amateur golfers will convene for the Hilton Grand Vacations. Two trophies will be handed out after the four days of stroke play with no cut, one to a professional player and one to a celebrity or amateur golfer.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]