LPGA Rookies of 2003 Part Two

By Lpga Tour MediaFebruary 26, 2003, 5:00 pm
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ' For the second-straight week, we continue our in-depth look at this years 24 Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour rookie class. Not only will the Tours first-year members be battling it out for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award, but they also will be looking for valuable experience that can pay dividends for their future professional careers.
 
The 24 rookies that compose the 2003 class are a mixture of world talent as they represent 11 different countries: Brazil; Chile; Denmark; England; France; Japan; Korea; Mexico; Norway; Spain; and the United States.
 
Christina Kim and Lorena Ochoa earned their 2003 LPGA Tour card by finishing in the top three on the 2002 Futures Tour money list, while the remaining 22 rookies earned their cards at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament in October 2002. Players are listed in alphabetical order.
 
Soo Young Kim, Korea ' One of seven rookies from Korea, Kim qualified for the LPGA Tour on her first attempt. She tied for 15th at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn exempt status for the 2003 season. Kim, who will turn 25 on Feb. 28, turned professional in August 2000. She competed on the Korea LPGA (KLPGA) Tour before joining the Futures Tour, where she won the Greater Lima Futures Open in 2002 and tied for second at the Aurora Health Care Futures Charity Classic. In her spare time she enjoys shopping, skiing and going to the movies.
 
Young Kim, Korea ' Kim played on the KLPGA from 1998-2001, where she won two events. She joined the Futures Tour in 2001 and proceeded to win the Barona Creek Womens Golf Classic. Success kept coming Kims way, as she tied for fourth at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn exempt status for the 2003 season. Kims game has strong roots, as she was a four-time winner on the Korea Golf Association, and in 1997 she triumphed at the Japan Golf Association Junior Championship. Off the course, this 23-year-old enjoys hanging out listening to music.
 
Ji-Yeon (Jinnie) Lee, Korea ' Lee turned professional in October 2001, and in 2002 recorded three top-10 finishes on the Futures Tour. Her season was highlighted with a tie for third at the Ann Arbor Futures Classic. Lee has non-exempt status for the 2003 season after tying for 56th at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament. At 5, Kim joins Alison Nicholas as the shortest player on Tour. Her hobbies include going to the movies, swimming and practicing tae kwon do.
 
Paula Marti, Spain ' A member of the 2002 European Solheim Cup Team, Marti brings a wealth of international success and experience to the LPGA in 2003. In 2002, she won the Evian Ladies European Tour (LET) Order of Merit, won the Australian LPGA Tournament of Champions and placed second at the Weetabix Womens British Open, where she shot four consecutive rounds in the 60s. Marti tied for 31st at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn non-exempt status for 2003. Marti has accepted a sponsor exemption to play in the Safeway PING Presented by Yoplait, March 20-23, at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix. She enjoys tennis, hanging out with friends and going to the beach.
 
Soo Young Moon, Korea ' The second- youngest player on Tour (five days older than Christina Kim), Moon celebrates her 19th birthday on Feb. 28. She has come a long way in a short period of time considering she began playing the game only six years ago. Moon turned professional in 2002 and tied for 38th at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn non-exempt status for the 2003 season. In her spare time, she enjoys reading a good book and playing games.
 
Lorena Ochoa, Mexico ' Ochoa carries the anticipation and hopes of Mexico in every swing she takes. The eight-time national champion has been dubbed the next Nancy Lopez, and so far she has demonstrated the game to back up such a challenging comparison. Ochoa is exempt for 2003 after finishing first on the 2002 Futures Tour money list, where she won three events. In LPGA competition, she tied for fifth at the 2002 Welchs/Circle K Championship after receiving a sponsor exemption. Additionally, she finished eighth at the 2002 Kraft Nabisco Championship, one of the LPGAs four majors. While at the University of Arizona, she was a two-time NCAA Player of the Year and won eight of 10 events her sophomore year. Ochoa likes to spend her free time reading and water skiing.
 
Hyun Soon Park, Korea ' Born March 20, 1972, Park has the experience to compete at the highest level of competitive golf. From 1991-2002 she played on the KLPGA Tour, winning six times. Remarkably, Park did not start playing golf until she was 16 and never competed as an amateur. She enjoys water skiing and qualified for the LPGA Tour on her first at- tempt by tying for 65th at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn non-exempt status.
 
Nicole Perrot, Chile ' Perrot turned professional in April 2002 and promptly recorded three top-10 finishes on the Futures Tour. The Santiago resident earned non-exempt status for 2003 after she tied for 65th at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament. As an amateur, Perrot won the 2001 U.S. Girls Junior Championship and was runnerup at the U.S. Womens Amateur Championship. The 19-year-old began playing golf when she was four and is a fan of all sports. She likes to snow ski, relax on the beach and hang out with her friends. Brief snapshots of the final eight members of the 2003 LPGA Tour rookie class will come in next weeks LPGA News Release.
 
Related Links:
  • More 2003 LPGA Rookie Class
  • Final 2002 LPGA Money List
  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    FALLING

    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: Who's got next?

    By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    The sprawling legacy of the Class of 2011 can be traced to any number of origins, but for some among what is arguably the most prolific class ever, it all began in June 2009.

    The 99-player field that descended on Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., for the AJGA’s FootJoy Invitational included Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and so many others, like Michael Kim, who up to that moment had experienced the weight of the ’11 class only from afar.

    “It was that year that Justin won the FootJoy Invitational and that got him into [the Wyndham Championship]," Kim recalled. "That was my first invitational and I was like 'these guys are so good’ and I was blown away by what they were shooting. I remember being shocked by how good they were at that time.”

    Tom Lovelady, who like former Cal-Berkeley Bear Kim is now on the PGA Tour, remembers that tournament as the moment when he started to realize how special this particular group could be, as well as the genesis of what has become lifetime friendships.

    In the third round, Lovelady was paired with Spieth.

    “We kind of hit it off and became friends after that," Lovelady recalled. "The final round I got paired with Justin Thomas and we became friends. On the 10th hole I asked [Thomas], ‘Where do you want to go to school?’ He said, ‘Here. Here or Alabama.’ My first reaction was, ‘Don’t go to Alabama.’ He’s like, ‘Why?’ I wanted to go there. I knew the class was strong and they only had so many spots, but that’s where I really wanted to go.”

    Both ended up in Tuscaloosa, and both won an NCAA title during their time in college. They also solidified a friendship that endures to this day in South Florida where they live and train together.

    While the exploits of Thomas, Spieth and Daniel Berger are well documented, perhaps the most impressive part of the ’11 class is the depth that continues to develop at the highest level.

    To many, it’s not a question as to whether the class will have another breakout star, it’s when and who?



    There’s a good chance that answer could have been found on the tee sheet for last week’s RSM Classic, a lineup that included Class of ’11 alums Lovelady; Kim; Ollie Schniederjans, a two-time All-American at Georgia Tech; Patrick Rodgers, Stanford's all-time wins leader alongside Tiger Woods; and C.T. Pan, a four-time All-American at the University of Washington.

    Lovelady earned his Tour card this year via the Web.com Tour, while Schniederjans and Rodgers are already well on their way to the competitive tipping point of Next Level.

    Rodgers, who joined the Tour in 2015, dropped a close decision at the John Deere Classic in July, where he finished a stroke behind winner Bryson DeChambeau; and Schniederjans had a similar near-miss at the Wyndham Championship.

    To those who have been conditioned by nearly a decade of play, it’s no surprise that the class has embraced a next-man-up mentality. Nor is it any surprise, at least for those who were forged by such an exceedingly high level of play, that success has seemed to be effortless.

    “First guy I remember competing against at a high level was Justin. We were playing tournaments at 10, 11 years old together,” Rodgers said. “He was really, really good at that age and I wasn’t really good and so he was always my benchmark and motivated me to get better.”

    That symbiotic relationship hasn’t changed. At every level the group has been challenged, and to a larger degree motivated, by the collective success.

    By all accounts, it was Spieth who assumed the role of standard-bearer when he joined the Tour in 2013 and immediately won. For Rodgers, however, the epiphany arrived a year later as he was preparing to play a college event in California and glanced up at a television to see his former rival grinding down the stretch at Augusta National.

    “Jordan’s leading the Masters. A couple years before we’d been paired together battling it out at this exact same college event,” he laughed. “I think I even won the tournament. It was just crazy for me to see someone who is such a peer, someone I was so familiar with up there on the biggest stage.”

    It was a common theme for many among the Class of ’11 as Spieth, Thomas and others emerged, and succeeded, on a world stage. If familiarity can breed contempt, in this case it created a collective confidence.

    Success on Tour has traditionally come slowly for new pros, the commonly held belief being that it took younger players time to evolve into Tour professionals. That’s no longer the case, the byproduct of better coaching, training and tournaments for juniors and top-level amateurs.

    But for the Class of ’11, that learning curve was accelerated by the economies of scale. The quality and quantity of competition for the class has turned out to be a fundamental tenet to the group’s success.

    “Since the mindset of the class has been win, win, win, you don’t know anything other than that, it’s never been just be good enough,” Lovelady said. “You don’t think about being top 125 [on the FedExCup points list], you think about being as high as you can instead of just trying to make the cut, or just keep your card. It’s all you’ve known since you were 14, 15 years old.”

    It’s a unique kind of competitive Darwinism that has allowed the class to separate itself from others, an ever-present reality that continues to drive the group.

    “It was constantly in my head motivating me,” Rodgers said. “Then you see Jordan turn pro and have immediate success and Justin turn pro and have immediate success. It’s kind of the fuel that drives me. What makes it special is these guys have always motivated me, maybe even more so than someone like Tiger [Woods].”

    The domino effect seems obvious, inevitable even, with the only unknown who will be next?

    “That’s a good question; I’d like for it to be myself,” Lovelady said. “But it’s hard to say it’s going to be him, it’s going to be him when it could be him. There are just so many guys.”