Altvater: Youth continues to dominate on LPGA TourWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
With her win at the Evian Championship, women’s golf has identified yet another teenage superstar in South Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim. Kim turned professional in October 2012 at the age of 17, after a very successful amateur career and immediately signed a huge sponsorship agreement with Lotte.
Kim didn’t take long to provide a positive return for Lotte, winning the Hyundai China Ladies Open on the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Tour (KLPGA) in her second start as a professional.
In 2013, she posted 14 top-10 finishes in 21 starts on the KLPGA, won the Rookie of the Year award and just missed being named KLPGA’s Player of the Year by a single point.
Kim has only played in nine LPGA Tour events, but has never finished outside the top 25. The Evian Championship was just her third start on the LPGA Tour in 2014. She finished T-7 at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic and T-4 at the Lotte Championship.
This win puts her at No. 10 in the Rolex Rankings and adds another young name to an already crowded list of teenage talent in the women’s game.
Minjee Lee, an 18-year-old from Australia, was the No. 1 ranked amateur in the world. She turned professional in September and finished T-16 this week.
Seventeen-year-old Lydia Ko has won twice on the LPGA Tour this season, including the Marathon Classic in Toledo, and is the runaway leader for Rookie of the Year. She was the runner-up in the Evian Championship last season and finished T-8 this year nursing a hand injury that will require surgery.
A poor round on Sunday knocked 18-year-old Charley Hull from England down to a T-47 finish at the Evian Championship. She was a member of the winning 2013 European Solheim Cup team and leads the Ladies European Tour’s (LET) Order of Merit.
Lexi Thompson finished T-10 at the Evian Championship. She has four LPGA Tour titles on her resume, including the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship and is 19 years old.
At 18 years old, Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn has one win on the LET, contended in LPGA Tour events and will soon become a full-time member of the LPGA Tour.
With young stars like Kim, Ko, Lee, Hull, Thompson and Jutanugarn competing for major titles, the future is indeed bright for the LPGA Tour.
Fred Altvater offers golf tips and videos at www.toledoohiogolflessons.com. Email him at BackNine@toledofree press.com or follow him on Twitter @tolohgolfr.