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Showing posts from 2020

Atthaya Thitikul's First Win as a Pro

Atthaya Thitikul is only 17 years old as this is written, and has been a pro golfer for less than a year. Yet, it seems like she's been around on the international golf scene for a while now. That's because she has been, for several years. But on July 24, 2020, the golfer who is called "Jeeno" by friends earned her first professional win at the Singha-Sat Thai LPGA Championship 2020, a tournament on the Thai LPGA Tour. Thitikul won the tournament with scores of 66, 66 and 67, finishing at 17-under-par 199. She won by two strokes. To be clear, this was not the first pro tournament Thitikul won: She previously won the Ladies European Thailand Championship in 2017 and in 2019, both co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour. But in both instances, Jeeno was playing as an amateur. So the 2020 Thai LPGA Championship is her first victory playing as a professional golfer. When Thitikul won the 2017 Ladies European Thailand Championship, she was only 14 years 4 months a…

Sarah Burnham Wins With Record Score

With the LPGA Tour on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, tour members, especially those early in their careers, are looking elsewhere for competition. For 24-year-old Sarah Burnham, that meant entering the 2020 Michigan PGA Women's Open. Good decision: She dominated. Burnham finished with a tournament-record score of 18-under 198 to win by a whopping 10 strokes. The tournament, played at Crystal Mountain, concluded on July 1. Burnham opened with a 65, shot 70 in the second round, then fired a final-round 63 that was one stroke off the course record. She had seven birdies, an eagle (on a par-4) and zero bogeys in the final round. Burnham was an LPGA Tour rookie in 2019, when her best finish in an LPGA tournament was tied for ninth place at the Cambia Portland Classic. Before joining the LPGA, Burnham played college golf at Michigan State University, where she was the two-time Big 10 Player of the Year. The swing of Michigan PGA Women's Open winner and LPGA Tour member @bur…

Cactur Tour Win for USC's Gabi Ruffels

Playing as an amateur, Gabi Ruffels earned her first win in a pro tournament on June 26, 2020. Ruffels won the Cactus Tour tournament played at Legacy Golf Club in Henderson, Nevada, by two strokes over fellow amateur Briana Chacon. Ruffels, a 20-year-old from Australia who is a senior at Southern Cal, started the final round two strokes behind Chacon. But a final-round 66 took care of that. She finished at 13-under 203. Ruffels is also the reigning U.S. Women's Amateur champion. And in preparation for her title defense in that tournament in Augusta, Ruffels will be playing in July, in the Jacksonville Amateur Championship. She'll be the first woman in tournament history to play that event, and will be playing from the same tees as the guys. "I thought it was a great opportunity to test my game before the Women’s Am," Ruffels told the Golf Channel. "The women’s amateur schedule has been very restricted with everything that's going on, so has been tough …

Charley Hull the First Rose Ladies Series Winner

It's been a weird 2020 in golf — and the world in general — as the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted golf tours and tournaments around the world. In Europe, as in America, the top women's golf tours all halted play. But as the Ladies European Tour hoped to begin play again later in the year, many of its players were looking for opportunities for competition, sharpening their games, getting ready for LET events. Liz Young, LET player, conceived a series of one-day tournaments to serve as prep for a re-start. And PGA Tour winner Justin Rose and his wife stepped up with a big wad of cash to help provide a prize fund. And thus was born the Rose Ladies Series in England. Who knows where the Rose Ladies Series will go (or grow) from here, or whether it will even exist beyond this weird 2020. But it has already held its first tournament, and here's the answer to a future trivia question: Charley Hull, world No. 25 at the time, was the first-ever winner on the Rose Ladies Series. …

Kristen Gillman Notches First Win as Pro

One of the LPGA's brightest young players, Kristen Gillman, has earned her first win as a professional golfer. With the pandemic-interrupted 2020 season, however, it wasn't on the LPGA Tour — it was on the WAPT Tour. Gillman won the Hurricane Classic, played in Anna, Texas, which concluded on June 12, 2020. The WAPT (for Women's All Pro Tour) is the official third-level of women's professional golf in the United States, with developmental tour status to the Symetra Tour. Gillman, along with a handful of other LPGA Tour players (past and present) were entered, plus many Symetra Tour players and others of note, giving the Hurricane Classic a particularly strong field for a WAPT event. Gillman finished at 14-under 274, winning by six strokes over runner-up Maria Fassi. Top amateur Alexa Pano was third. You can view the final scores here. As noted, it was the first win as a professional for the 22-year-old Gillman, who is in her second year on the LPGA Tour. (In the…

Hyun Kyung Park Wins In a Time of Pandemic

Hyun Kyung Park is not only a first-time winner on the Korean LPGA Tour (KLPGA), but she made that first victory a (Korean) major championship. Park, 22 years old, won the 2020 Korean LPGA Championship, which concluded May 17 and is counted as one of the KLPGA's own majors. It was a return to golf for the KLPGA, which had not played in months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament was played without any fans in attendance. Players followed social distancing guidelines and used hand sanitizer frequently; caddies wore face masks. It was an unusual setting in which to win a major championship, but Park surely didn't have any complaints. What she does have is a terrific golf swing, as this slow-motion video shows:Wow. Slow-mo swing of Hyun Kyung Park, winner of last week's KLPGA Championship https://t.co/pf1sIqT5VVpic.twitter.com/EdbYsf7JyT— Golf Babes (@golfbabes) May 19, 2020 Park finished the tournament at 17-under 271, beating runners-up Seon Woo Bae and Hee Jeo…

16-Year-Old Amari Avery Wins on Cactus Tour

Sixteen-year-old Amari Avery is an amateur, but she's now a winner in a pro golf tournament. Avery claimed a trophy on the Cactus Tour, winning the March 2-4 tournament on the Champions Course at Morongo Golf Club in Beaumont, Calif. Call it a home win for Amari, who is from nearby Riverside, Calif. Avery started the final round one stroke behind the leader. But she used her length — Amari was averaging 270 yards by the time she was 15 — to eagle the fourth hole and take the lead. She wound up shooting 33 on the front nine and finishing with a 69. That gave her a three-round total of 6-under 210, and a two-stroke win over runner-up Kathleen Scavo. Although still only 16, Amari has been on the golf radar for years already. She was one of the cast members of the 2013 documentary The Short Game that followed a group of 7- and 8-year-old golfers. (It also included Alexa Pano, with whom Avery partnered in the 2019 U.S. Women's Four-Ball.) In 2018, Avery was runner-up at the…

Julia Engstrom's First LET Win

Julia Engstrom is in her third season as a member of the Ladies European Tour ... and she's still only 18 years old. Now, she has her first LET win. After victory in the Women's New South Wales Open in Australia, Engstrom said on Instagram: "A day I will remember for the rest of my life! #victorynr1" Engstrom, from Sweden, was five strokes off the lead as the final round began. But she kept working her way up the leaderboard and eventually finished the tournament with a birdie. That got her in the clubhouse with a 68 and a total of 14-under 274. And that score held up.Sweden’s @juliaengstrom1 hit the perfect 5-iron setting up this birdie putt on 18 to become the 2020 #WomensNSWOpen champion.

Let the celebrations begin! 🥳 🎉 🎊 pic.twitter.com/t1guf7CAKL— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) March 1, 2020 Engstrom first made international golf news in 2016, when, at the age of 15, she became the youngest-ever winner of the British Ladies Amateur Championship. She dec…

Anna Zanusso Ties NCAA Record With 61

Anna Zanusso is an Italian golfer who is a freshman on the Denver University women's golf team. She is also now the co-holder of the NCAA's all-time women's golf record for lowest 18-hole score: 61. Zanusso shot 61 in her second 18 of a 36-hole day during the NCAA Westbrook Invitational, a tournament hosted by the University of Wisconsin but played at Westbrook Village in Peoria, Arizona. Zanusso's record-tying score happened on the first day of the two-day tournament. They played two rounds on Day 1, with the 18-hole finale on Feb. 24. According to Golfweek, Zanusso hit all 18 greens in regulation and needed only 25 putts. She made 11 birdies. Zanusso's current ranking in the World Amateur Golf Ranking is No. 73. Her career-best ranking as of this writing is 49th. In the last two years, Anna has won five WAGR ranking tournaments, including her first college win late in 2019 at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. Other big victories for the Italian teen incl…

Stephanie Kyriacou's 1st Pro Win — And She's Still An Amateur

Australian golfer Stephanie Kyriacou is a winner on a pro tour, and she hasn't even turned pro yet. Wins by amateurs on pro tours are rare, but Stephanie pulled off the feat today — and she did it with an 8-stroke victory. The tournament was the Ladies European Tour's 2020 season-opener in Australia, the Australian Ladies Classic Bonville. Kyriacou carded scores of 69, 63 and 69, then closed with a 65 to finish at 22-under 266. That was eight strokes better than the runner-up. (That runner-up, Korean golfer Ayean Cho, is ranked No. 35 in the Rolex Rankings.) Did we mention she's still an amateur? We did? That's OK, it bears repeating. Who is Stephanie Kyriacou? Right now she is the 90th-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. But she's about to make a leap up the rankings. Prior to her LET victory, 89th was her highest WAGR ranking to date. Kyriacou made the cut in a previous pro tournament this year, the LPGA co-sanctioned ISPS Handa Vic Open, and f…