Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

The year in sport 2018: Women’s golf

Posted on 30 December 2018 by Emilia Ottela

The major season kicked off in May, with the oldest major in the women’s golf calendar, the U.S. Women’s Open. The event took place at Shoal Greek golf course, designed by Jack Nicklaus.

Finding the winner wasn’t easy and after 72 holes the lead was shared by Ariya Jutanugarn and Hyo-Joo Kim with a total score of eleven under par.

Ariya won the second try of two-hole aggregate playoffs and was crowned as the first Major Champion of the year 2018. It was the second major title for this 23-year-old Thai player, who has been a popular star in golf since her childhood.

KPMG Women’s PGA Championship — the second major of the year — was competed a month thereafter.

Sung Hyun Park captured her fourth career win and second career major title, as she was the third Korean player ever to win the event. It was a playoff win again this time and Sung won the title with a nine foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole.

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Next up was the Ricoh Ladies British Open. The title stayed on the British Isles after the tournament, as the winner was Georgia Hall.

For Georgia, this was her first major win and she became the fifth British winner of a women’s major tournament. Hall won the event by two strokes.

Only two British female players have won the British Open before her. In November 2018 she was named as the Young Sportswoman of the Year in The Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards 2018.

After the award she became the youngest winner for two consecutive Ladies European Tour order of merit titles. She was also awarded with a Player of the Year trophy.

After receiving the award, she commented to Ladies European Tour: “I still feel like the same person and player and enjoy playing in every tournament, just playing golf.”

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The next major win went to Sweden after a long push. 32-year-old Pernilla Lindberg won her first ever major title at ANA Inspiration. This also marked her first win as a professional golfer.

It took 173 starts for her on the Ladies PGA Tour to join the major winners club. And again, 72 holes wasn’t enough at Mission Hills Country Club to clarify the winner and Pernilla was forced to fight eight more playoff-holes to secure the win.

The fifth and last major was played at Evian Resort in France. Angela Stanford has been involved six times in the U.S. Solheim cup team, but this was her first major win.

After turning pro in 2000, she had to wait 18 years to win her first major title as a professional player.

How is women’s golf doing?

When looking at the Ladies PGA tour calendar for 2019, one would think that ladies golf is doing better than ever.

Indeed, that is the case when talking about the professional golf tour across the pond in the USA. Next year, the players will play for $70.55 million. That is a record-breaking amount on a women’s golf tour.

Mike Whan — the LPGA Commissioner — commented on the growth: “LPGA purses have steadily increased over the last decade, a sign of the growing support from our corporate partners and sponsors for the game of women’s golf.”

Unfortunately, the situation is not the same with the Ladies European Tour (LET). The schedule for the 2019 season had not even been published at the time of writing.

During the last few years, LET has struggled to fill its competition calendar. Players have headed over the Atlantic in order to play golf full-time.

As a comparison, a player who placed tenth on the LET money list earned £60,000 this season. The same spot on the LPGA money list would have brought 14 times that amount.

Something needs to be done here in Europe. Whether that be joining forces with the LPGA or perhaps with the men’s European Tour. Otherwise it will soon only be a pipe dream to play golf as a professional in Europe.

Featured photograph/Georgia Hall/ LET