14 players from 14 countries participate… LPGA tournament without a Korean player in 23 years

The Hilton Grand Vacations of Champions (total prize money of $1.5 million), which is held as the opening game of the 2023 season of the LPGA Tour, is a very nasty tournament for Korean female golfers.

From the venue and schedule of the tournament, young Korean players are reluctant to participate. The venue is Lake Nona GC (par 72) in Orlando, Florida, USA, and the schedule is four days from January 19th, the winter training period in full swing. The second tournament of the season, which will be held after the opening match, is the Honda LPGA Thailand, which will be held in Chonburi, Thailand from February 23, a month later. And from March 2, the HSBC Women’s World Championship will follow in Singapore. There is no worry about ‘cost’ because the winners of the tour for the last two years proceed without a cutoff, but the time, mental, and physical burden is not so much for Korean players who mainly train in Southeast Asia or Australia.

Still, Korean female golfers have been steadily participating in this tournament, which has been held since 2019. In the first competition in 2019, 6 people participated, and Ji Eun-hee won and Lee Mi-rim runner-up, with outstanding results.

However, no Korean players participated in this year’s event. There are players like Park In-bi who is pregnant and unable to participate due to personal reasons, and there is also a case like Ko Jin-young who expressed her intention to participate but decided not to participate at the last minute because her wrist injury was not fully healed yet.

There were many factors that discouraged participation, such as the small amount of prize money and the next tournament being held only a month later.

In particular, as last year’s winner and 2021’s winner overlapped with two, only five players were able to participate in the competition: Ji Eun-hee, Park In-bi, Jeon In-ji, Ko Jin-young, and Kim Hyo-joo. In 2021, there were only three Korean LPGA winners: Jin-young Ko, who won 5 wins, and Inbi Park and Hyo-joo Kim, who won 1 each. And in 2022, among them, Ko Jin-young and Kim Hyo-joo won one win each, and Ji Eun-hee and Jeon In-ji added the championship, and only five players were qualified for the two years. Among them, Park In-bi had reasons for not participating, and Ko Jin-young tried to participate as much as possible, but she had no choice but to give up participating in the tournament for the sake of her future.

There are reasons for the absence of 5 qualified players, but the fact that the number of Korean players participating is ‘0’ clearly shows the current state of Korean women’s golf, where the number of championships has decreased sharply recently. In 2021, when it won 7 wins, it gave the United States the place of “the most winning country in the LPGA” for 6 consecutive years from 2015 to 2020.

In this event, 10 out of 11 players who won their first championship last year will participate for the first time. Jennifer Cupcho (USA), who won three victories this season, including the Chevron Championship, and Riona Maguire, who became the first LPGA champion from Ireland, were also on the list of participants. Ashley Buhai (South Africa), who won the AIG Women’s Open after overtime with Jeon In-ji, American compatriot Andrea Lee, and 2022 rookie Ayaka Furue (Japan) also threw their ballots. The fact that there were no Korean players among the 11 new champions can also be said to have had an impact on the ‘no Korean players’ in this tournament.

29 athletes from 14 countries will participate in this event. The United States has the most (8), followed by Thailand (4), Japan (3), South Africa (2), Sweden (2), England (2), Ireland, Canada, Taiwan, Finland, France, Mexico, Denmark and Scotland. . 카지노

In 1998, Se-Ri Pak competed in 27 of the 31 events on the LPGA Tour. Since it was almost a year when Pak Se-ri was active alone, it is highly likely that the four tournaments in which he did not participate were held without a Korean player. However, as Kim Mi-hyeon stepped on the LPGA stage the following year, and Park Ji-eun and Jang Jung additionally joined in 2000, there would have been no LPGA tournament held without a Korean player. Perhaps the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions will be the only LPGA event to be held without a Korean player in the 2000s.

The urgent topic facing Korean female golfers in 2023 is ‘resurrection’. Although there are no Korean players to cheer for the opening game, I hope that Korean female golfers will often deliver the news of ‘resurrected victory’ in future tournaments. So that a large number of Korean female golfers can participate in the opening game of the 2024 LPGA.

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