It’s a year of exciting changes for the LPGA Tour, and it all gets started this week at the Tournament of Champions — an event that feels like a microcosm of 2022.
There’s a new sponsor (Hilton Vacations), a new golf course (Lake Nona Golf and Country Club) and there are storylines abound at an event with an increased purse for 2022.
And that’s just the first event of the year.
Here’s just about everything you need to know for the season ahead.
Related: Complete 2022 LPGA tour schedule
Can anyone top Jin Young Ko?
Last season’s Player of the Year went on the heater of all heaters through the summer months winning five times in nine starts after July 1. She admitted at the CME Group Tour Championship (the season finale) that she wasn’t herself after her grandmother passed away in March, but she pivoted physically and mentally through the balance of 2021 and knew that her grandmother would be proud of her accomplishments.
There was certainly much to be proud of.
Ko, 26, finished outside the top-six on the LPGA Tour just once during that nine-tournament stretch in the summer. She defended her title at the CME Group Tour Championship winning the Race to the CME Globe, Player of the Year, shot 14 consecutive rounds in the 60s and topped the money list. She also won the money title in 2020 after just four starts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She is as complete a player as any on the LPGA Tour (13th in driving accuracy, second in greens in regulation, 19th in putting average, and second in scoring average) and will once again be the player to watch in 2022.
What should we expect from Nelly Korda?
For all of Jin Young Ko’s accomplishments in 2021, however, it was American Nelly Korda who ended the year ranked No. 1 in the world.
Korda won four times last season — including her first major — along with the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo. She admitted she ran out of gas at the end of the year (she won the penultimate event of the season but couldn’t top Ko in the finale, ending up tied for fifth). However, there’s nothing that shows Korda, who is just 23, won’t have a similar-type season in 2022. Especially considering there will be far less travel (no Olympics, no Solheim Cup), the best golfer in the world will now be able to have more opportunities for rest and recovery.
Korda — whose older sister, Jessica, also won on the LPGA Tour last season — was tops on Tour in scoring average, fifth in greens in regulation, seventh in driving distance, and 14th in putts per greens in regulation en route to notching 10 top-10 finishes in 17 events.
While sports fans are often starved for rivalries, Ko vs. Korda is as good as any on the course. Don’t expect a war-of-words to break out, though — they are also two of the kindest people on Tour.
Who are some other players to watch?
One of the great things about the LPGA Tour — perhaps now more than any of the last five seasons — is that there are a handful of top golfers who could go on a hot streak at any point through the season.
Here are just a few others to keep an eye on this year.
- Lydia Ko — Won for the first time in three years in 2021 and zipped up to third in the world. Rejuvenated on-course effort thanks to work with Sean Foley.
- Yuka Saso — 19-year-old sensation won the U.S. Women’s Open in 2021 and catapulted herself into the top-10 in the world.
- Patty Tavatanakit — Another youngster who captured a major championship last year, Tavatanakit — who absolutely bombs it off the tee — won the 2021 Rookie of the Year award.
- Lexi Thompson — Hard to believe, but Thompson (who is just 26) hasn’t won on the LPGA Tour since 2019. Will this be the year she finds the winner's circle again?
- In Bee Park — The ‘Queen B’ is getting older (she’s 33) and has had to navigate a few injuries over the last couple of seasons. However, Park still won once last year, ended the year ranked fourth in the world, and was No. 1 on Tour in putting. If she stays healthy, she’ll continue to be a force in the women’s game.
Where are the 2022 women's majors played?
This year’s major championship roster is an impressive one.
- The Chevron Championship (formerly the ANA Inspiration) will be played at the Dinah Short Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club for the final time before it moves to the Houston area starting next year. This marks the 50th year of this particular major and expect a large, and deserved, send off. It will be played Mar. 31-Apr. 3 and have a $5 million purse. Patty Tavatanakit defends.
- The U.S. Women’s Open (June 2-5) will be contested at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in North Carolina. The last time it was played there, in 2007, Cristie Kerr won her first of two major titles. This year’s U.S. Women’s Open will have a presenting sponsor for the first time (ProMedica Health) and with that the purse will increase by nearly 100 percent to $10 million (it was $5.5 million in 2021). Yuka Saso defends.
- The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 23-26) heads to Congressional Country Club. It’s the first time the women will be teeing it up at Congressional, and it will return again to the storied Maryland layout in 2027. There will be a $4.5 million purse. Nelly Korda defends.
- The Amundi Evian Championship (July 21-24) will, per usual, be played at the Evian Resort Golf Club in France and there will be a $4.5 million purse. Minjee Lee defends.
- Perhaps the most notable of all the major championship venues for 2022 will be the AIG Women’s Open (Aug. 4-7) at Muirfield. Muirfield, which has hosted the men’s Open 16 times, was embroiled in controversy, and only first admitted female members in 2019. There will be a $6.8 million purse. Anna Nordqvist defends.
Tell me about the new LPGA commissioner
Former commissioner Mike Whan moved on last year to take the top job at the USGA (and he’s already made his presence felt, having helped to install the new sponsor for the U.S. Women’s Open along with the purse increase) and was replaced mid-year by former Director of Athletics at Princeton University Mollie Marcoux Samaan.
Samaan has a lengthy resume in sports and leadership and said at the CME Group Tour Championship that she’s gone through a hearty learning process in her first couple months on the job. She’ll now be charged with navigating the Tour’s exit from the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing broadcast challenges (while there will be 500 hours of LPGA Tour golf broadcast, she said in November 2021 she was high on streaming opportunities and storytelling), and the diversity and inclusion opportunities that exist leading a women’s sports league.
Interestingly enough, Marcoux Samaan wrote her senior thesis on “The Social Construction of Sport and Gender: A History of Women’s Golf from 1895 to 1955.”
What are some new rules to aware of?
Things to keep an eye out for on the LPGA Tour this year include two key rule changes.
The first is the USGA’s new rule on driver length. While the reduction from 48 inches to 46 inches impacts fewer than 10 golfers on the LPGA Tour, one of those golfers is Brooke Henderson — ranked No. 10 in the world. Henderson has used a 48-inch driver since she was 15 and will have the biggest spotlight when the rule gets invoked on Tour in mid-March.
According to GolfWeek's Beth Ann Nichols, the LPGA Tour will also allow for non-members who finish in the top 10 in certain events (majors don’t count, neither does the team event or match- play event) earn the right to tee it up in the following week’s tournament. The PGA Tour has long had this rule, and many had called for it to be part of the LPGA Tour’s process, too.
How much prize money is up for grabs?
The winner of the U.S. Women’s Open will earn $1.8 million — more money than all but three players made for the entire 2021 LPGA Tour season. This is a prime example of how much money golfers on the LPGA Tour are now playing for, certainly as compared to years’ past.
The overall purse for the 34 events will be approximately $86 million, the largest total ever. Ten tournaments have announced purse increases with more “expected to be announced throughout the season,” according to a release from the Tour.
There will be swings through Florida, California, and Europe, while events are, for now, set to return to Asia and Canada after the COVID-19 pandemic caused plenty of scheduling problems.
Keep an eye out for the two fun events on the schedule as well this year. The DOW Great Lakes Invitational will, once again, be a team event, while the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play will return to Las Vegas’ Shadow Creek.
Finally, fans of the LPGA Tour may shortly be able to get more involved in betting.
The Tour’s daily stats and hole-by-hole data will be available to casinos and sportsbooks through some partners like BoyleSports, Tipsport, and bet365. This effort has been spearheaded by IMG Arena, which now owns the Tour’s official sports betting data and live streaming distribution rights.
What's the 2022 LPGA Tour schedule?
Jan. 20-23: Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, Lake Nona G. and C.C., Orlando, Florida,
Jan. 27-30: Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio Boca Rio G.C., Boca Raton, Florida,
Feb. 4-6 or Feb. 11-13 LPGA Drive On Championship, Florida location to be announced
March 3-6: HSBC Women's World Championship, Sentosa G.C., Singapore
March 10-13: Honda LPGA Thailand, Siam C.C., Pattaya, Chonburi, Thailand,
March 24-27: JTBC Classic presented by Barbasol Aviara G.C., Carlsbad, California,
March 31-April 3: The Chevron Championship Mission Hills C.C., Rancho Mirage, California
April 13-16: LOTTE Championship, Hawaii location to be announced
April 21-24: JTBC LA Open, Wilshire C.C., Los Angeles, California
April 28-May 1: JTBC Championship at Palos Verdes Palos Verdes G.C., Palos Verdes Estates, California
May 12-15: Cognizant Founders Cup. New Jersey location to be announced,
May 25-29: Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Hosted by Shadow Creek, Shadow Creek, Las Vegas, Nevada
June 2-5: U.S. Women's Open, Pine Needles Lodge and G.C., Southern Pines, North Carolina
June 10-12: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer Seaview, A Dolce Hotel (Bay Course), Galloway, New Jersey
June 16-19: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, Blythefield C.C., Grand Rapids, Michigan
June 23-26: KPMG Women's PGA Championship, Congressional C.C., Bethesda, Maryland
July 13-16: Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, Midland C.C., Midland, Michigan
July 21-24: Amundi Evian Championship, Evian Resort G.C., Evian-les-Bains, France
July 28-31: Trust Golf Women's Scottish Open, Dundonald Links, Ayrshire, Scotland
Aug. 4-7: AIG Women's Open, Muirfield, East Lothian, Scotland
Aug. 11-14: ISPS Handa World Invitational Galgorme Castle G.C., and Massereene G.C., Antrim, Northern Ireland
Aug. 25-28: CP Women's Open, Ottawa Hunt and G.C., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Sept. 1-4, Dana Open presented by Marathon, Highland Meadows G.C., Sylvania, Ohio
Sept. 8-11: Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G Kenwood Country Club, Cincinnati, Ohio
Sept. 15-18: Portland Classic, Oregon location to be announced
Sept. 23-25: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G Pinnacle Country Club, Rogers, Arkansas
Sept. 29-Oct. 2: Volunteers of America Classic, Old American G.C., The Colony, Texas
Oct. 6-9: LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship, The Saticoy Club, Somis, California
Oct. 13-16: Buick LPGA Shanghai, Qizhong Garden G.C., Shanghai, People's Republic of China
Oct. 20-23: BMW Ladies Championship, Korean location to be announced
Oct. 27-30: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA Miramar G.C., New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei
Nov. 3-6: TOTO Japan Classic, Seta Golf Course, Shiga, Japan
Nov. 10-13 Pelican Women's Championship, Pelican G.C., Belleair, Florida
Nov. 17-20: CME Group Tour Championship, Tiburon G.C., Naples, Florida