The LPGA Tour’s four-week swing through Europe made for a thrilling finale to an action-packed summer as the month-long stint crowned the final two major winners of the season, welcomed three first-time winners, and saw the addition of a new member.
France hosted the kick-off to the European swing with the season’s fourth major, the Amundi Evian Championship in Evian-les-Bains. It was there that Brooke Henderson ended her six-year wait for a second major title with a clutch, must-make birdie on the 72nd hole to capture her 12th win on Tour. The Canadian’s victory marked her second of the season as she joined fellow major champions Minjee Lee and Jennifer Kupcho as the only multiple winners midway through the year.
“Majors are won on the back nine on Sunday, and I was just trying to remind myself of that,” said Henderson, who notched three birdies on her final five holes. “Stay in it as long as I could and push towards the end.”
From France, the Tour headed to Scotland for back-to-back weeks beginning with the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire, Scotland. On the blustery links, 22-year-old rookie Ayaka Furue carded a tournament record 10-under, 62 to come from four strokes back to win for the first time on Tour.
“I didn't think I would win as a rookie,” Furue said about her maiden win. “I’m very happy and I'm very grateful and very happy that I was able to win at a links course.”
Furue’s victory set off a string of first-time winners in Europe.
The following week, the Tour traveled two hours east to Muirfield which hosted the historic, first playing of a women’s major with the AIG Women’s Open. Ashleigh Buhai outlasted an epic, four-hole playoff with three-time major champion In Gee Chun to capture not just her first win but also her first major title in her 221st start on the LPGA Tour.
“It's been a long journey, but man, it's all worth it right now,” Buhai said following her win at the fifth and final major championship of the season.
Sunday saw the conclusion of the Tour’s trip to Europe with the ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics in Ballymena, Northern Ireland. This one-of-a-kind, tri-sanctioned event with the Ladies European Tour and DP World Tour crowned champions in both the men’s and women’s divisions. Maja Stark came from two-strokes back with a final round 63 to become the seventh Rolex First-Time Winner of the season on the LPGA Tour. Stark, a member of the LET, earned membership to the LPGA with her win, which she immediately accepted to become the 33rd rookie of 2022.
“It hasn't settled yet,” Stark said about her newfound membership. “Finally, I can play on the LPGA and that's where I want to be.”
The world’s best can now breathe a heavy sigh with the bulk of the season and the five majors in the rearview. The Tour will take a much-deserved week off before kicking into high gear for one last push into the final 11 events on the schedule.
In Ottawa, Canada beginning on August 25, the CP Women’s Open returns to the schedule for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Jin Young Ko will look to defend her first of five titles in the closing stretch of the season.
The tour will spend the month of September crisscrossing the United States for six events before making the trip in mid-October to Asia for a two-week visit to Korea and Japan. Then the season concludes with back-to-back weeks on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The most coveted awards of the season will be handed out at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
The bulk of the season may be over, but some of the biggest moments of the year are still to come.