Basking in the warmth of the Arizona sun, the LPGA Tour has produced some of its most memorable moments in the Grand Canyon State.
In 2001, Annika Sorenstam became the only player to card a round of 59 on the LPGA Tour at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix.
A decade later, Arizona welcomed the Cognizant Founders Cup. And what began as a no-purse event born out of then Commissioner Mike Whan’s desire to honor the Tour’s 13 founding members, grew to become one of the Tour’s most beloved stops.
And in 2015, while playing at the Founders Cup, Sei Young Kim matched the Tour’s all-time 72-hole scoring record previously set by Sorenstam, which Kim would then eclipse three years later.
This year, Arizona will again host one of the most unique events on the LPGA Tour in the LPGA Drive On Championship, a tournament, like the Founders Cup, that was born out of a desire to recognize the resilience of the LPGA Tour. Next week, the tournament will be held for the first time at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club in Gold Canyon, Arizona.
While the tournament has shifted between states, its purpose has remained the same - to provide playing opportunities for the world’s best players.
The first edition of the LPGA Drive On Championship was held in July 2020 in Toledo, Ohio following the Tour’s three-month hiatus from competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the wake of canceled events, the Drive On Championship added a much-needed boost to the schedule and initiated the Tour’s return to competition. Inverness Club hosted the inaugural Drive On Championship and provided players with back-to-back tournaments in conjunction with the long standing Greater Toledo LPGA Classic, which has a home at the nearby Highland Meadows Country Club. Danielle Kang won both events.
Three months later, the LPGA Drive On Championship was held once more to replace the Tour’s three-week visit to Asia, which was canceled in the wake of the pandemic. In October 2020, Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia welcomed the world’s top players to the Jack Nicklaus’ layout. It was there that Ally Ewing earned her breakthrough win, holding off a charging Danielle Kang to win by a single stroke.
In March 2021, the LPGA Drive On Championship returned for the third edition and was held at Golden Ocala Golf Club just an hour drive north of Orlando, Florida. That’s where Austin Ernst captured her third career win on the LPGA Tour with a commanding five-stroke victory over Jennifer Kupcho.
In 2022, the LPGA Drive On Championship started anew without the history or records from the first three playings. The new version of the tournament was held in February 2022 as part of a three-week stretch of events in Florida and contested over 54 holes at Crown Colony Golf Club in Fort Myers, Florida. It was there that Leona Maguire got her much-anticipated first win on the LPGA Tour, winning by three strokes ahead of Lexi Thompson to become the first player from Ireland to win on Tour.
The Drive On Championship has achieved its purpose, and so much more, providing not only much-needed playing opportunities for the best golfers in the world but also opening the door for rising stars to find first-time glory on Tour. This year, the newest edition of the championship will be held in Arizona - where memories are made on the LPGA Tour.