The LPGA Tour wouldn’t exist today without the tremendous dedication, sacrifice, and perseverance of its 13 Founders. Those women set an example for the following generations, who have continued to elevate the tour through their talent.
The growing depth of competition on the LPGA Tour has become more evident in recent years as parity has come to define season after season. While some may clamor for a single, dominant player, others would argue that knowing dozens of players have a chance to contend each time they tee it up can make for thrilling finishes and a variety of first-time champions.
Sunday, Jodi Ewart Shadoff won for the first time in her 246th start, going wire-to-wire to become the 10th Rolex First-Time Winner of 2022 at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship. She joins the likes of Ashleigh Buhai and Paula Reto, who also made hundreds of starts before winning for the first time this year. Reto was inspired by watching Buhai get her first win and followed suit two weeks later. Ewart Shadoff found her own inspiration by watching the next generation on tour, those young, talented players who motivated her to continue working towards that elusive first win.
“The standard of golf now is just incredible. It really is,” Ewart Shadoff said about how the Tour has changed since she joined a dozen years ago. “All the young players coming through, it makes me a better player, it makes me push -- pushes me to work harder.”
That hard work paid off for Ewart Shadoff, who became the 24th different winner this season, just two shy of the tour’s record, with four events still remaining on the schedule.
The global growth of the women’s game has been a major contributor in taking the tour to new heights and adding a wealth of talent to its ranks. The annual fall swing through Asia had to reduce its number of events in recent years due to the pandemic, but returns this season with two tournaments, which are coming up next on the schedule. The Asian swing begins October 20 with the BMW Ladies Championship in the Republic of Korea. There, defending champion Jin Young Ko will make her return to competition as she’s been rehabbing an ongoing wrist injury. November 3 the Tour returns to the TOTO Japan Classic for the first time since 2019, when Ai Suzuki won and before the pandemic postponed the event for two years.
November 10 the Tour returns to the United States for the Pelican Women’s Championship just outside Tampa, Florida, where Nelly Korda is defending champion. And finally, November 17 sees the conclusion to the season with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida where Ko will once more seek to defend her title.
The season-ending CME Group Tour Championship is about so much more than just capping off the year as the outcome will also likely determine the winners of the season-long races for the Money Title, Vare Trophy, Player of the Year, and Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year. That week, the award recipients will be recognized at the annual Rolex Awards along with all of the season’s Rolex First-Time Winners.
Parity isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s a strength. There wasn’t just one Founder who made the Tour what it is today, but a group of women who, when they pooled their talents together, made the organization stronger. The depth of competition on the LPGA Tour has never been greater. And those 13 women who made it all possible couldn’t be prouder.