Grace Kim More Prepared for the Grind in Sophomore Season on LPGA
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Grace Kim More Prepared for the Grind in Sophomore Season on LPGA

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Grace Kim More Prepared for the Grind in Sophomore Season on LPGA

Grace Kim needed just three events to record her first LPGA victory but the 23-year-old Australian needed an entire season to adjust to life on Tour.

After edging out Yu Liu and Yu Jin Sung in a one-hole playoff for the Lotte Championship on April 12 in Hawaii, the rookie failed to make the cut in the next two events—Chevron Championship and JM Eagle LA Championship—before a T10 finish at the Cognizant Founders Cup on May 11.

The up-and-down trend would continue the rest of the year as Kim quickly learned as much about the grind on the LPGA as she did her own abilities and limitations.

“I think I’ve got a good taste of what it’s like to be a Tour player and that leads to having better expectations performance-wise,” Kim said. “I’ll be taking a big break in the middle, hopefully, this year to reset and restart for the second half of the season because it seemed like the second half of last season my stamina was a little low just to even play week-in week-out due to the physicality and endurance of playing the entire season.”

Despite finishing 14th and T13 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and U.S. Women’s Open, respectively, and 11th at the Dana Open, Kim failed to make the cut in three out of the next five events.

She closed out her year with just one top-20 finish in the final six events.

“It’s not an easy gig out there being a Tour player,” Kim said. “I definitely understand it’s not all glamorous out there. There’s long travel days, you have to get over jet lag, there’s some nice areas, some average areas, but having to adjust to that quickly was always a big thing during the start of the week. If you come to a place and you’re already in a negative mindset, I don’t think you’ll do that well, so it’s not surprising if you don’t play that well. 

“Just accepting what you have and adapting to it as quickly as you can will be my two key points for this year.”

Hardly looking at her rookie season on the LPGA as a failure, Kim remains even more optimistic heading into 2024, especially with her first LPGA victory under her belt. So far this season, Kim finished 29th (+5) at the HGV Tournament of Champions, failed to make the cut at the LPGA Drive On Championship, and was T31 (-8) at Honda LPGA Thailand.

All in all, Kim made 16 cuts out of 22 events played last season with one victory, two top-10 finishes and $959,443 in earnings while reaching as high as 55th in the women’s World Golf Rankings.

“I obviously had a good season,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting (to win) that quickly in my career but I’m super grateful for it. Hopefully now I can build on that and do a bit better.”

Growing the game

The support, interest and investment in women’s golf, especially at the LPGA, continues to grow early in 2024.

This year’s 35-event schedule unveiled in November features a record $116 million in total prize money, a 69-percent increase from the $70 million in total purses in 2021. Over that same span, the Tour’s media rights revenue has risen 25 percent and corporate partnership money has increased 33 percent.

In December, the LPGA and PGA Tour hosted the Grant Thornton Invitational, the first co-sanctioned event for both tours since the 1999 JCPenny Classic.

While LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan and Marketing Vice-President Krista Olson are tasked with growing the Tour and helping make its players household names, Kim relishes the opportunity to inspire more women and girls to pick up the game.

The change has already begun. In 2022, there were approximately 6.4 million women on-course golfers in the U.S., according to the National Golf Foundation. Women also represent a higher percentage of beginners (41 percent), juniors (37 percent) and off-course participants (41 percent) than they do in the overall golf population.

“We’re all trending,” Kim said. “We’ve come a long way from where we’ve started so, hopefully, we can continue trending that way. As long as I’m doing my job with inspiring one girl at a time, I think I’m doing my job well.”

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Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé is a freelance journalist (and very average golfer) based in New York City. With more than 15 years of experience in the industry, Michael has worked for daily newspapers, pro sports teams/leagues and online media startups. Bylines include: PGATOUR.com, GOLF.com, PGA Tour Essential Guide to Golf, AZ Golf Insider, Forbes SportsMoney, Robb Report, Boardroom, and Travel + Leisure.

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé





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      HikingMike

      2 months ago

      That’s a hell of a first season! Interesting quote about the endurance required and how all the travel and stuff probably affected her performance. She’ll surely figure out the best balance for her. It’s interesting. That stuff probably affects the various pros quite differently and it’s a factor in their play, along with everything else we think of as part of skill.

      Reply

      Stephen

      2 months ago

      Great read. I’d love to see more articles on LPGA tour players. Maybe tie it in with the broader MGS mission by having some discussion of the equipment they use. LPGA tour players have swing speeds similar to most recreational men, so I think there’s a lot we can learn in terms of bag set up, shafts etc.

      Reply

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