Meet the Rookies

Twenty-one golfers join 2009 LPGA Tour for their rookie season
This week is the final installment in a five-part series highlighting the new year's class

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The official start of the 2009 LPGA Tour season has finally arrived and, with it, the members of the 2009 rookie class are ready to test their skills to prepare for the next step in their careers. The 2009 LPGA Tour rookie class is comprised of 21 'rookies,' who have some very veteran experience, including Jiyai Shin, of Korea, who won three LPGA Tour events in 2008 - the most ever by a non-member, as well as Michelle Wie, of Hawaii, who has 48 LPGA Tour starts under her belt since 2002, and Kim Welch, who won the Golf Channel's Big Break: Ka'anapali. Respectively, Jessica Shepley, of Canada, and Nontaya Srisawang, of Thailand, are among their countries' strongest competitors. Representing six countries outside the United States with 15 international members and six members hailing from five U.S. states, the class is as diverse as they are talented.

This week is the final of five weeks highlighting snapshots of each rookie in the run up to the first official 2009 LPGA Tour event, the SBS Open at Turtle Bay.

Michelle Wie
State: Hawaii
Turned professional: October 2005
Priority List Category: 11
Michelle Wie set multiple records during her amateur golf career. In 2000, at the age of 10, she became the youngest to qualify for the USGA Women's Amateur Public Links Championship. The same year, she won the Honolulu Mayor's Cup and was the low women's amateur at the Hawaii State Open. She was the youngest winner of the 2001 Jennie K. Wilson Invitational and 2001 Hawaii State Women's Stroke Play championship. At the 2002 LPGA Takefuji Classic, Wie became the youngest player to Monday qualify for a LPGA event (12 years, 4 months, 14 days). At the 2003 Kraft Nabisco Championship, her tie for ninth made her the youngest player to make the cut (13 years, 5 months, 17 days) and the youngest player to finish in the top-10 (13 years, 5 months, 19 days) at a LPGA event. In 2006, Wie recorded six top-five finishes in LPGA Tour events, competing as a sponsor's invite. In 2008, she finished sixth at the HypoVereinsbank Ladies German Open on the Ladies European Tour (LET) and tied for 12th at the CN Canadian Women's Open on the LPGA. Wie's hobbies include exploring different types of music, hanging out with friends, college life, watching movies and finding funny clips on YouTube.
 
Kim Welch
State: California
Turned professional: January 2006
Priority List Category: 17
Kim Welch competed on the Duramed FUTURES Tour in 2008, recording three top-10 finishes, including her first professional win at the Alliance Bank Golf Classic. While at Washington State University, Welch recorded 29 top-10 finishes, including 11 victories. She earned 2003 Pac-10 First Team All-Conference honors, and was an All-American First Team selection by the National Golf Coaches Association. Welch enjoys snowboarding, hanging out with family, doing puzzles and playing with her nieces and nephews while she's at home.
 
Nontaya Srisawang
Country: Thailand
Turned professional: January 2006
Priority List Category: 16
Nontaya Srisawang was a competitive amateur golfer, recording multiple victories in 2002, 2004 and 2005. After turning professional in January 2006, Srisawang competed on the Duramed FUTURES Tour in 2007 and 2008. Away from golf, Srisawang enjoys photography.
 
Jiyai Shin
Country: South Korea
Turned professional: 2005
Priority List Category: 3
Jiyai Shin became the first non-LPGA member to win three events in one season: the RICOH Women's British Open; Mizuno Classic; and the season-ending ADT Championship. As a member of the Korea LPGA (KLPGA) Tour, she was the first player in history to complete the season Grand Slam, earning a 10-year exemption on the KLPGA. The 20-year-old recorded seven KLPGA victories in 15 starts, and seven additional top-eight finishes, all in 2008. Shin's amateur career included five victories as a member of the Korean National Team. Other than playing golf, Shin enjoys listening to music, watching movies, and reading.
 
Jessica Shepley
Country: Canada
Turned professional: June 2005
Priority List Category: 17
Jessica Shepley's amateur career began on the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) circuit, where she won four times. As a member of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer golf team, Shepley earned 13 top-10 finishes and was a two-time Southeastern Conference (SEC) All-Conference First-Team selection (2002-03). After an individual tie for fourth at the 2004 SEC Championship, she finished fifth at the NCAA Championship. In 2008, Shepley recorded five top-10 finishes in 17 starts on the Duramed FUTURES Tour, and finished seventh on the season-ending money list. The 25-year-old enjoys singing, dancing, reading and scrapbooking.
 
Samantha Richdale
Country: Canada
Turned professional: May 2006
Priority List Category: 16
Samantha Richdale had a successful amateur career, winning the 2004 British Columbia Amateur Championship and was runner-up in 2005. At Illinois State University, she was a three-time Missouri Valley Conference Championship individual medalist in 2003-04 and 2006, and won seven other collegiate events. The 24-year-old earned Illinois State University Female Athlete of the Year honors for the 2005-06 season. A three-year member of the Duramed FUTURES Tour, Richdale won the 2008 Gettysburg Championship. Other than golf, Richdale enjoys reading, playing cards and watching movies.
 
Pornanong Phatlum
(Porn-a-nong Pat-lum)
Country: Thailand
Turned professional: February 2006
Priority List Category: 20
Pornanong Phatlum was competitive on the pro circuit as an amateur. She competed on the Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT), and won the 2006 Hong Kong Ladies Open, prior to turning professional. In 2008, the 19-year-old won the DLF Women's Indian Open and Thailand Ladies on the LAGT. Away from the course, Phatlum enjoys shopping, listening to music, surfing the Internet, and watching movies.
 
Shiho Oyama
(She-ho Oh-yah-ma)
Country: Japan
Turned professional: August 2000
Priority List Category: 11
Shiho Oyama owns 12 international victories on the LPGA of Japan (JLPGA), most recently at the 2008 Masters GC Ladies. In 2005, Oyama led the JLPGA Money List, winning five of her 12 events. As an amateur, Oyama won the 1994 Japan Women's Amateur, the 1997 and 1999 Japan Women's Amateur Match Play, and the 1999 Japan Women's College Championship. Oyama enjoys listening to music, reading books and shopping.
 
Sunny Oh
Country: South Korea
Turned professional: May 2004
Priority List Category: 20
Sunny Oh won five events while at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), including the 2003 NCAA West Regional Championship and 2004 Mountain West Conference (MWC) Championship. She was the 2003 MWC Freshman of the Year and, for 2003-04, was named a National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) All-American and MWC All-Conference selection. The 25-year-old competed on the Duramed FUTURES Tour from 2004-08, winning the 2008 Bright House Networks Open. Her hobbies include shopping, watching Korean soap operas, going to the nail salon, the Los Angeles Lakers, TV and karaoke.
 
Angela Oh
State: New Jersey
Turned professional: June 2008
Priority List Category: 20
As an amateur, Angela Oh was named the 2003-04 Philadelphia Section Player of the Year and was a 2004 Junior Ryder Cup Team selection. In 2005, Oh was selected as the Junior PGA Player of the Year and won the first of two consecutive New Jersey State Junior Championships. While at the University of Tennessee, the 20-year-old was named to the 2007 All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) Second Team and recorded eight top-10 finishes. Oh's hobbies include listening to music, playing the guitar, working out and talking to family and friends.
 
Anna Nordqvist
(Ann-ah Nord-quist)
Country: Sweden
Turned professional: December 2008
Priority List Category: 16
Anna Nordqvist had a successful amateur career in Europe and the United States. She was the 2004 and 2005 Swedish Junior Player of the Year. In 2005, she won the Girls' British Open Amateur Championship and was named the Swedish Amateur of the Year. In 2006, Nordqvist won the European Team Amateur event. At Arizona State University, she was named the 2007 National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) Freshman of the Year and earned back-to-back NGCA First Team All-American and Academic All-American honors in 2007-08. The 21-year-old also earned low amateur honors at the 2008 RICOH Women's British Open. In addition to golf, Nordqvist enjoys following all kinds of sports.
 
Mika Miyazato
(Me-kah)
Country: Japan
Turned professional: December 2008
Priority List Category: 11
Mika Miyazato had a successful amateur career in Japan. She became the youngest winner of the Japan Amateur Women's Championship in 2004 at 14 years, 8 months. In 2006, she won the 15-17 Girls' division of the Callaway Golf Junior World Golf Championships at Torrey Pines North Course, and was the 2006 Asian Games individual and team silver medalist. Miyazato - no relation to LPGA Tour member Ai Miyazato - also won back-to-back Japan Junior Championships in 2006-07. The 19-year-old enjoys listening to music, watching sports other than golf, watching Ichiro Suzuki play and shopping.
 
Stacy Lewis
State: Texas
Turned professional: June 2008
Priority List Category: 11
2008 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament medalist
Stacy Lewis had a decorated amateur experience. While a member of the University of Arkansas' women's golf team, Lewis won 12 events and was a four-time All-American. She was the 2005 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Freshman of the Year, the 2007 NCAA Division I National Champion and the 2008 SEC Championship Individual Medalist and Player of the Year. As the nation's top-ranked amateur in the Golfweek/Titleist Women's Amateur Rankings the 23-year-old was a member of the victorious 2008 U.S. Curtis Cup Team, becoming the first player to go 5-0 in Curtis Cup history. Lewis competed in seven events on the 2008 Tour with two top-10 finishes, including a tie for third at the U.S. Women's Open. Outside of golf, Lewis enjoys working out, watching sports, traveling and having time to herself.
 
Jeehae Lee
Country: South Korea
Turned professional: August 2006
Priority List Category: 11
Lee competed on the Duramed FUTURES Tour in 2007-08 and recorded two wins on the 2007 Suncoast Ladies Tour. As an amateur, Lee won once in American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) competition. While at Yale University, she finished third individually at the 2003 Ivy League Championship and was a member of the Ivy League Championship team in 2003 and 2006. When not teeing it up, she enjoys listening to music, traveling, books and dancing.
 
Mindy Kim
State: California
Turned professional: March 2007
Priority List Category: 9
In 2008, Kim was a three-time winner on the Duramed FUTURES Tour: the Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City Championship, the Aurora Health Care Championship and the Falls Auto Group Classic. In 2006, the 19-year-old won the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Mission Hills Desert Junior Classic and the Los Angeles City Championship. That same year, Kim earned AJGA First Team All-American honors and was a member of the West Canon Cup Team. Outside of golf, Kim enjoys shopping, hanging out with family and close friends, music, dancing, singing and fashion.
 
Haeji Kang
(Hay-jee)
Country: South Korea
Turned professional: January 2008
Priority List Category: 16
Kang competed on the Duramed FUTURES Tour in 2008, winning the Greater Richmond Duramed FUTURES Tour Classic, and recording five additional top-10 finishes. In 2006, as an amateur, Kang won the Greg Norman Junior Masters Championship and the Queensland 72-Hole Stroke Play Championship, and was runner-up at the Australian Junior Championship. The 18-year-old is a two-time winner of the Queensland Junior Championship (2006-07) and also won the 2007 Australia Junior Championship. She was the low amateur at the 2006 LG BING LEE Championship on the Ladies European Tour and at the 2007 ANZ Ladies Masters on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour. Her hobbies include watching movies and playing computer games.
 
Vicky Hurst
State: Florida
Turned professional: March 2008
Priority List Category: 9
As an amateur, Hurst was consistently one of the nation's best. In both 2006 and 2007, she was named the Florida Junior Tour Player of the Year and also qualified for the U.S. Women's Open. Hurst won three times on the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) circuit, including the 2007 PING Invitational. Also in 2007, she represented the U.S. Team at the U.S. PING Junior Solheim Cup and the East Team at the Canon Cup. The 18-year-old was the top-ranked amateur in 2007, and was also named the AJGA Player of the Year. On the 2008 Duramed FUTERES Tour, Hurst won five times, setting a record for most single-season earnings ($93,107) and securing both Rookie and Player of the Year honors. Hurst enjoys watching movies, reading books, rock climbing, jet skiing, billiards, working out, and listening to music.
 
M.J. Hur
Country: South Korea
Turned professional: December 2007
Priority List Category: 9
Hur competed on the Duramed FUTURES Tour in 2008 and won the Louisiana Pelican Classic, while finishing in the top-10 eight other times. A member of the Korean National Team in 2005 and 2006, Hur won the individual and team competition at the Korea National Team Festival. In 2006, she won the individual title at the Queen Sirit Cup Asia-Pacific tournament and was a member of the third-place team. As an amateur, the 19-year-old tied for sixth at the 2006 KOLON· Hana Bank Championship. Hur finished fourth on the Duramed FUTURES Tour season-ending money list to earn Priority List Category 9 for the 2009 LPGA season. Other than playing golf, Hur enjoys going out to eat with friends and playing video games.
 
Tania Elosegui
(TAH-nee-ah Eh-LO-se-gee)
Country: Spain
Turned professional: November 2005
Priority List Category: 16
Tania Elosegui's amateur career included gold and bronze medals at the 2000 Mediterranean Games, a runner-up finish at the 2000 European Individual Championship, and was a bronze medalist at the 2002 World Amateur Championships. Elosegui won five gold medals from 1999-2005 while representing Spain at the European Team Championships In 2007, Elosegui won the Telkom Women's Classic on the Ladies African Tour and, on the 2008 Ladies European Tour (LET), she recorded seven top-10 finishes, including three runner-up marks. Elosegui, 26, enjoys snowboarding, going to the beach, skateboarding, kitesurfing, music and playing tennis.
 
Song Yi Choi
(Song Yee Choy)
Country: South Korea
Turned professional: March 2007
Priority List Category: 17
Song Yi Choi was a two-year member of the Duramed FUTURES Tour in 2007-08, earning 10 top-10 finishes during that span. The 23-year-old was a member of the Korean National Team from 2002-05, and won the 2001 and 2003 Korea Junior Golf Championships. Before turning professional, she won the 2004 Taiwan Amateur Championship and the University Volvik Championship. Choi finished sixth on the 2008 Duramed FUTURES Tour season-ending money list to earn Priority List Category 17 for the 2009 LPGA season. In her spare time, Choi enjoys playing the piano, playing the drums and fishing.
 
Chella Choi
(Choy)
Country: South Korea
Turned professional: January 2008
Priority List Category: 11
In her first year on the Duramed FUTURES Tour in 2008, Chella Choi recorded 10 top-10 finishes, including a tie for second at the Bright House Networks Open. A member of the Korean National Team in 2006, Choi won the Korean Junior Championship that same year. Off the course, the 18-year-old Choi enjoys reading books and going to CYWorld.

Topics: Press Release, Wie, Michelle, Shin, Jiyai, Shepley, Jessica, Richdale, Samantha, Phatlum, Pornanong, Oh, Angela, Nordqvist, Anna, Miyazato, Mika, Lewis, Stacy, Lee, Jeehae, Kim, Mindy [+]

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