LPGA TOUR SEES RECORDING-SETTING 12 ROLEX FIRST-TIME WINNERS IN 2023 SEASON

The 2023 LPGA Tour season saw 12 players earn their first career victories on the LPGA Tour, five of whom were rookies and two of whom went on to win multiple times in 2023. The 12 champions set a new record for most Rolex First-Time Winners in a single season, besting the previous benchmark of 11 that was set in 1995 and tied in 2022, and provided golf fans with some of the most moving, exciting storylines of the 2023 season. Let’s take a look back at all 12 of the Rolex First-Time Winners this year on the LPGA Tour.

Lilia Vu – Honda LPGA Thailand

Lilia Vu blitzed the Old Course at Siam Country Club on Sunday in Chonburi, Thailand, firing an 8-under 64 to win by one shot over Natthakritta Vongtaveelap and become the season’s first Rolex First-Time Winner. Vu went on to win three other tournaments this year, capturing her first major title at The Chevron Championship, winning the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath Golf Club and then picking up her fourth career victory at The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican. The 26-year-old finished the year at No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and earned Rolex Player of the Year honors as well as the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award

Ruoning Yin – Se Ri Pak LA Open

Ruoning Yin became the second player from the People’s Republic of China to win on the LPGA Tour with her victory at the Se Ri Pak LA Open, joining 10-time Tour winner Shanshan Feng. Yin defeated Georgia Hall by one shot to become the 2023 season’s second Rolex First-Time Winner at Palos Verdes Golf Club, and she went on to win again at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club. That victory was Yin’s first major title and just the second major championship to be won by a People’s Republic of China native on the LPGA Tour.

Grace Kim – LOTTE Championship presented by Hoakalei

Epson Tour graduate Grace Kim emerged victorious from a three-way playoff with Yu Liu and Yu Jin Sung at Hoakalei Country Club to capture her first LPGA Tour title in Hawaii. She was the first of three Australians who won on Tour during the 2023 season – Hannah Green and Minjee Lee also earned three titles between them – and was the only 2022 Epson Tour graduate to secure a victory this year.

Rose Zhang – Mizuho Americas Open

Stanford University standout Rose Zhang burst onto the professional golf scene at the Mizuho Americas Open, winning the inaugural event at Liberty National Golf Club in her pro debut. She became the first person since Beverly Hanson in 1951 to win on the LPGA Tour in her first event as a professional, and with the victory, Zhang accepted immediate LPGA Tour Membership, making her a 2023 LPGA Tour rookie. She was one of five rookies to become Rolex First-Time Winners in 2023, and the victory helped her earn a spot on her first United States Solheim Cup team. Zhang captured four additional top-10 finishes this season and made $1,389,794 in earnings.

Allisen Corpuz – U.S. Women’s Open

Hawaii native Allisen Corpuz became the first woman to win a professional event at Pebble Beach Golf Links with her victory at the U.S. Women’s Open. She won by three shots over Charley Hull and Jenny Shin, and ironically captured her first LPGA Tour victory and major title at the same event that saw 2014 U.S. Women’s Open champion and Hawaii native Michelle Wie West play her final professional golf tournament. Corpuz earned four additional top-10 finishes in 2023, made her Solheim Cup debut and finished third on the official money list with $3,094,813 in season earnings.

Linn Grant – Dana Open

Sweden’s Linn Grant took home the Dana Open title at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio to become the season’s sixth Rolex First-Time Winner. The five-time Ladies European Tour champion carded rounds of 64, 69, 62 and 68 en route to a three-shot victory over Allisen Corpuz, and she earned three other top-10 results on the LPGA Tour in 2023. She was a rookie on the 2023 European Solheim Cup team, helping the Blue and Yellow secure their third straight Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin in Andalucia, Spain.

Elizabeth Szokol – Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational

Elizabeth Szokol picked up her first career LPGA Tour victory at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational alongside her playing partner, Cheyenne Knight. The Elizabethan Knights as the duo aptly dubbed themselves won by one shot over Matilda Castren and Kelly Tan, recording a four-day total of 23-under at Midland Country Club. She earned two other top-10 finishes this season, tying for eighth at the HSBC Women’s World Championship and tying for 10th at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G.

Alexa Pano – ISPS Handa World Invitational

Epson Tour alum Alexa Pano became a Rolex First-Time Winner in Northern Ireland at the ISPS Handa World Invitational. She defeated Gabriella Cowley and Esther Henseleit in a playoff en route to her first professional victory, one that really defined her season as it was also her lone top-10 result of the year. She ultimately finished 43rd in the Race to the CME Globe and made $442,855 in season earnings, $225,000 of which came from her win in Northern Ireland.

Megan Khang – CPKC Women’s Open

Megan Khang finally found her first victory in her 191st start on the LPGA Tour at the CPKC Women’s Open at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club. After making birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff with former Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 1 Jin Young Ko, Khang won with a par on the first extra hole, becoming the ninth Rolex First-Time Winner of the 2023 season.

Chanette Wannasaen – Portland Classic

After missing eight straight cuts and finishing T54 in her nine previous starts before teeing it up in Portland, Oregon, Chanettee Wannasaen carded rounds of 68, 66, 65 and 63 to take home her first LPGA Tour title. The Thailand native became just the third Monday qualifier ever to win on Tour and was the first since Brooke Henderson won the 2015 Portland Classic to accomplish the feat. Wannasaen also became the second player from Thailand to win on the LPGA Tour this season, joining Pajaree Anannarukarn, and is the seventh different Thai player to capture at least one victory on the LPGA Tour.

Hae Ran Ryu – Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G

Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Hae Ran Ryu picked up her first LPGA Tour win at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, defeating Linnea Strom by three shots with a 54-hole total of 19-under. Ryu carded back-to-back 64s and a 66 at Pinnacle Country Club to become the 11th Rolex First-Time Winner of 2023 and was the fifth rookie to win on Tour this season. She was also one of three players from the Republic of Korea to win on the LPGA Tour in 2023 as Jin Young Ko and Hyo Joo Kim both captured victories this year.

Angel Yin – Buick LPGA Shanghai

The record-breaking 12th Rolex First-Time Winner of the 2023 LPGA Tour season was crowned at the Buick LPGA Shanghai when Angel Yin redeemed herself after a heartbreaking playoff loss at The Chevron Championship by defeating Lilia Vu in a playoff at Qizhong Garden Golf Club. The California native first became an LPGA Tour member in 2017, and her win in the People’s Republic of China was her first in 159 career starts on the LPGA Tour. In addition to her victory, the 25-year-old earned five additional top-10 finishes, two of which came in major championships, and Yin’s season earnings totaled $1,660,716.

*Mone Inami did earn her first LPGA Tour victory at the TOTO Japan Classic but chose to defer LPGA Tour membership until the 2024 season. Because her membership will not be effective until 2024, Inami is not considered to be a 2023 Rolex First-Time Winner.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga