Golf Channel/NBC will air a “Year in Review” program at 4:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 6. The program will be hosted by NBC Sports correspondent Jimmy Roberts and will look back on the important events and dramatic races that made up the 2022 LPGA Tour season.
And what a year it was. Beginning with Danielle Kang’s victory at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions and ending with Lydia Ko’s tearful win at the CME Group Tour Championship, 2022 offered some of the most compelling storylines in recent memory.
We were treated to the long-awaited rise of Jennifer Kupcho, a star of the amateur ranks who won the NCAA individual championship and broke into the public’s consciousness with her victory in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur. But after turning pro in 2019, Kupcho took some time to adapt to the professional game.
That changed in 2022 when the Colorado native made her first victory a major. Kupcho captured the last Chevron Championship to be played at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and made one final leap into Poppy’s Pond. She went on to win two more times in 2023.
Major drama continued with the rise of Minjee Lee, who won both the Cognizant Founders Cup and the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica on the strength of her unparalleled ball striking. Lee’s proximity-to-the-hole statistics were eye-popping throughout the first half of the year and vaulted her to frontrunner status for Rolex Player of the Year.
That race was joined when In Gee Chun carded what most players agree was the round of the year at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Chun’s first-round 64 had almost everyone in the field saying, “What course was In Gee playing?”
Chun hung on to capture the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, her third major title, by a shot over Lexi Thompson and Lee, who made a valiant Sunday change. Just over a month later, Chun came within a whisker of winning another major when she forced a playoff in the AIG Women’s Open, an event won on the fourth extra hole by Ashleigh Buhai.
Prior to that showdown at historic Muirfield, Brooke Henderson returned to the major-championship fold. Henderson birdied her final hole, rolling in a 15-footer to capture the Amundi Evian Championship by a single shot. It was Henderson’s second win of 2022, the first coming in charge-from-behind fashion at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer.
Those events were encircled by more compelling drama. As Golf Channel and NBC chronicled all season, the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race went down the wire with two-time LPGA Tour winner Atthaya Thitikul, the owner of last year’s LET Order of Merit, edging out Hye-Jin Choi. Thitikul, a mere 19 years old, won in just her fifth start as an LPGA Tour Member at the JTBC Classic and captured her second title at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G.
The Vare trophy for low stroke average and the Rolex LPGA Player of the Year came down to the wire as well. It wasn’t until Lydia Ko holed her final putt on Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., to capture her second CME Group Tour Championship that both titles were locked up.
Ko not only won her second Player of the Year title, she ascended to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, setting a record for the longest stretch between appearances in the top spot. And she became only the second player in history behind Annika Sorenstam to log a season-long scoring average below 69.
In total, it was a year of extraordinary feats, one that was hard to grasp in full until it was over. Thankfully, Golf Channel and NBC are here to remind us of our recent, dramatic past.