Anticipation is mounting as fans await the LPGA Tour’s return to action in two weeks’ time. Meanwhile, the golf world is abuzz as members take advantage of other tour’s playing opportunities to prepare for the full-fledged start of the LPGA’s 2023 season.
The ISPS Handa PGA Tour Australasia is in the midst of a busy summer schedule in which many of its tournaments for men and women are held in tandem or feature a mixed field. In December the country’s national championships were staged simultaneously, for the first time. The women’s division was won by Ashleigh Buhai. With her victory, Buhai became the first player since Yani Tseng in 2011 to win the AIG Women’s Open and the ISPS Handa Australian Open in the same year.
Sunday at the Australasia Tour’s TPC Murray River tournament, Sarah Jane Smith found long sought success as she returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since 2008. Smith captured the mixed field event to become only the third woman to top the men and did so by a convincing five stroke margin. The Aussie pointed to an off-season change, in which she moved from longtime coach Sean Foley to Grant Field, for her renewed form. It was a switch the Aussie said was much needed after a difficult stretch on the LPGA Tour that saw her lose full playing privileges for 2023.
Across the globe, the Ladies European Tour launched its 2023 campaign with its season opener at the magical Kenya Ladies Open. Aditi Ashok, a member of the LPGA Tour and a two-time Olympian, went wire-to-wire in Kenya to capture her fourth victory on the LET. And, like Smith, Ashok ended a winless drought which dated back to 2017 with a commanding nine-stroke victory. Gabriela Ruffels, a member of the Epson Tour, began her competitive season with a fourth-place finish in Kenya.
The LET rolls right into its second event of the year beginning Thursday with the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco, which counts prior champions like Ariya Jutanugarn and Charley Hull. This season, the field features last week’s winner in Ashok, long-hitter Anne Van Dam, LPGA Tour winner Maja Stark, and 2022 LET Order of Merit leader Linn Grant.
Also starting on Thursday, the ISPS Handa PGA Tour Australasia hosts the Vic Open with men and women competing concurrently at 13th Beach Golf Links. Prior winners include a who's who of LPGA members like Minjee Lee, a two-time winner of the tournament, Georgia Hall, Mel Reid, Celine Boutier, and last year’s champion Hannah Green. This year’s field features the LPGA’s Su Oh, Grace Kim, Emma Talley, Pavarisa Yoktuan, and Sarah Kemp, to name a few. Karrie Webb, Australia’s most prolific golfer and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, will also make a rare competitive appearance as she's played a limited schedule since 2019.
Fans will have to wait another two weeks to see the return of the LPGA Tour, but there’s plenty of golf happening around the world featuring the best and brightest in the women’s game who are fine tuning their games and also, patiently anticipating the tour’s return.