2021 has proven to be one of the most exciting years in the history of women’s professional golf, despite being during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The LPGA has just finished a record-breaking year in 2021 as viewership, prize money, and competition are at an all-time high. Join us at SQAIRZ as we celebrate the LPGA and review some of the most exciting and talked about moments of the 2021 LPGA season.
#1 NELLY KORDA WINS THE WOMEN’S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
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At age 22, Nelly Korda has proven to be an incredibly talented golfer, amassing 7 wins since earning her LPGA Tour card in 2017 at age 17. Now she can add the 2021 Women’s PGA Championship to her list of victories after an outstanding performance at the Atlanta Athletic Club in June 2021.
Without any doubt, Nelly Korda is the best female golfer on the planet right now and her abilities were on full display during the entire championship, where she beat out Lizette Salas by 3 strokes to secure her first Major Victory. For her victory Korda took home an incredible $675,000 in prize money.
During her incredible 2021 season Korda collected more than 2.3 million in prize purses, making her the 2nd highest earning LPGA member behind Jin Young Ko. She announced on February 7, 2022 that she will be taking a break from golf for 6 weeks and will return on March 24, 2022 for the JTBC Classic in San Diego, CA.
We look forward to seeing a well rested Korda return to compete in March!
You can watch the final round recap from the LPGA official YouTube channel below.
#2 NELLY KORDA WINS GOLD MEDAL AT TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS
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Just 41 days after winning her first Major Victory in the Women’s PGA Championship, Nelly Korda won something even more emotional – a gold medal in the women’s individual golf event in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The tournament (which originally was scheduled to take place in 2020, but was delayed by a year due to the COVID pandemic) took place at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Japan between August 4th and 7th, 2021.
The event was notable in many regards, not least due to the fact Nelly is only the 2nd American woman in history to win a gold medal in Golf, with the first being Margaret Abbott who won 121 years ago in 1900. This was also the 2nd time that golf was played in the Olympics (with the first being the 2016 games) after golf was removed from the Olympics in 1904. In the 2016 games Inbee Park of South Korea had won the golf and Lydia Ko of New Zealand took home silver. Both ladies returned to the 2020 Olympics and many had believed they would easily claim the gold and silver again, with the question being who would take gold. However, in the 5 years since that last event a new star was quickly amassing victories and rising in the ranks, ready to defy expectations at the games.
After 4 days of intense competition, Korda managed to beat her competition by just one stroke. Earning the silver was Mone Inami of Japan and earning bronze was Lydia Ko of New Zealand. When asked about her feelings regarding the win, Korda responded “It’s crazy… It sounds absurd that I’m a gold medal and I’m an Olympian. I don’t know – it just hasn’t sunk in yet.” Her older sister, Jessica, also an excellent LPGA pro, stated her feelings even more succinctly by stating, “This is just kind of like almost legend status as a golfer, period, male or female. It’s tough to win out here and she makes it look easy, but those girls are good. So for her to be doing… It’s insane to me. This is like total GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) status to me.”
#3 JESSICA KORDA WINS DIAMOND RESORTS TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
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Despite her younger sister’s accomplishments later in the year, the very first LPGA Tournament of the 2021 season, the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in Lake Buena Vista, FL, was won by the eldest Korda sister, Jessica. A fantastic golfer in her own right, this tournament was Jessica’s sixth LPGA title and her first victory since winning the LPGA Thailand at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course in February 2018 after recovering from a major jaw surgery to correct an overbite.
After 4 days of intense competition Korda landed a beautiful 30-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to secure her victory over Danielle Kang for a final score of -24. This tournament earned her the $180,000 winner’s share of the 1.2 million dollar purse. Younger sister Nelly also received the 3rd place prize, just 2 strokes behind her sister, earning an impressive $109,051.
You can watch a recap of Jessica’s performance at the Diamond Resorts Tournament from the LPGA official YouTube channel below.
#4 JASMINE SUWANNAPURA GETS ENGAGED DURING THE DIAMOND RESORTS TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
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At the first LPGA event of the 2021 season there was also an incredibly tender moment when Michael David Thomas, the boyfriend of two-time LPGA winner Jasmine Suwannapura, surprised everyone by proposing to his girlfriend on the green of the 18th hole during the 2nd day of the tournament. The emotional moment was like something out of a movie as stunned onlookers watched Suwannapura accept as the boyfriend and girlfriend became fiancé and fiancée.
This all happened less than 5 years after Suwannapura broke her back at age 23 while playing golf at the Kingsmill Championship in May 2016. After her surgery and recovery she went on to win the 2018 Marathon Classic and tied for 1st place with Cydney Clanton in the 2019 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. At the tournament she went on to finish 6 under par in the tournament and took home over $20,000 for her efforts. Not a bad day!
You can view the original Instagram story from Jasmine here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CKX5FzFFjxw/.
#5 ANNIKA SÖRENSTAM MAKES THE CUT
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Annika Sörenstam is one of the best female golfers in history. With an unbelievable number of records under her belt, including winning 72 LPGA events, winning eight Player of the Year awards, six Vare Trophies (for the LPGA player with the lowest season score average), and being the only female golfer ever to shoot a 59 during competition, you’d think it wouldn’t be a surprise that Annika Sörenstam would make the cut for a tournament. However, Sörenstam chose to retire in 2008 to start a family and has not competed in over 12 years.
That all changed in February 2021 when the Gainbridge LPGA Championship took place on her home course at the Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando, FL. She stated that she wanted a little competition as she decides whether or not to play in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open in the summer (a choice she would ultimately decide against, but she continues to mull over the decision to compete in the 2022 Open). It seems even Sörenstam wasn’t 100% confident in her chances at making the cut as she had planned to take her daughter to Volleyball practice after being cut; a plan she had to change afterwards.
Making this all the more exciting was a snafu that occurred the day before when a bad call from a rules official cost her 1 stroke. During the fifth hole of the opening round her opening shot barely avoided going out of bounds and actually landed directly under a gate signifying the boundary. She had asked about opening the gate to allow for a shot, but rules official Dan Maselli informed her, incorrectly, that it was not allowed to open the gate, forcing her to take a penalty drop.
It turns out that the rules had changed in 2019 and both Sörenstam and the official did not realize it until it was too late. The official apologized to Sörenstam after the second round, but she was not bothered considering the obscure nature of the rule in question. Despite the hiccup she went on to complete the tournament and send waves of speculation about her future throughout the golf world.
In February 2022 Sörenstam announced that she would be competing in the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open for the first time since 2008 and then days later committed to make her debut in the 2022 Senior LPGA Championship.
#6 MICHELLE WIE WEST’S HOODIE KEEPS SELLING OUT
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Michelle Wie West is a lot of things, including the youngest player to ever qualify for a USGA amateur championship, youngest woman to ever win the US Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship, youngest woman to ever qualify for an LPGA Tour event, and winner of the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open. She also got married in 2019 and gave birth to her first daughter in 2020. Now she can add “successful fashion designer” to her repertoire as well.
Originally launched on April 19, 2021 the “#HoodieForGolf” features the LPGA logo atop blue and pink tie dye swirls. Proceeds from the hoodie are donated to 2 charities, the Clearview Legacy Foundation (https://www.clearviewgolfclub.com/clearviewlegacyfoundation), and the LPGA Renee Powell Fund (https://www.girlsgolf.org/about/grants/renee-powell-grant). The hoodie was inspired by the WNBA’s iconic orange hoodie which was seen by millions after stars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Lil Wayne wore them in public. The same approach has worked for West’s hoodie, as celebrities like Damion Lee and Kent Bazemore of the Golden State Warriors have been seen wearing the hoodie, as well as golfers like Ian Poulter and Justin Thomas.
The hoodie has sold tens of thousands of pairs since its launch and has contributed over $500,000 to the 2 charities it supports. As of the time of writing, the most recent restock of the hoodie has sold out with the exception of a few XS sizes which are expected to be gone soon at https://www.lpgaproshop.com/lpga-tie-dye-number-hoodieforgolf/p-26359585855565+z-9046-1475087651.