NAPLES, FLA | Friday, the LPGA Tour announced that the 2023 schedule will play 33 official events with a record-breaking total prize fund of $101.4 million. Though busy playing at the CME Group Tour Championship, many of the LPGA’s best have had a chance to take a look at the schedule and celebrate its implications.
“It’s amazing,” Rolex Rankings World No. 1 Nelly Korda said Friday. “Women’s golf is really trending in a great direction. I would say when we’re given this stage, we can prove that we’re exciting and we’re fun to watch. I think that’s all we need is a way to prove ourselves and we’re getting that. The sponsors can see it and they’re really backing us, we’re really grateful for that.”
Korda has certainly proved that she’s one of the most exciting golfers in the world to watch right now. Less than a week removed from her win at the Pelican Women’s Championship, Korda finds herself in contention again this week in a tie for third at 7-under par through 36 holes at Tiburon Golf Course.
Currently turning the last page on her best season so far, Minjee Lee is another one of those exciting players well worthy of a $101.4 million total purse. Her first multi-win season since 2016, Lee has raked in over $3 million in prize money – boosted by the $1.8 million winner’s check she cashed in for her second major win at the US Women’s Open.
Lee already has the Aon Risk Reward Challenge and Rolex ANNIKA Major Award trophies in hand, but she’s also in the running for the Rolex Player of the Year award. Just one point shy of Lydia Ko, Lee fighting to the finish this weekend. At minus-5, Lee sits at T10 going into the third round.
The Aussie is certainly happy to hear that the tour’s total purse has finally eclipsed $100 million and hopes things will only keep getting better from there.
“Just to be able to be over $100 million, I think it’s just a milestone in itself and a testament to how well our commissioner and our sponsors have stepped up to put up that money,” Lee said after shooting a 4-under 68 on Friday. “I think it closes a little bit of the gap between the men’s and women’s tour. I know we’ve been saying it so much, but we’ve only been going from strength to strength and it’s only going to keep going up from here.”
An 18-time LPGA winner, Ko heartily agrees with the sentiments shared by Korda and Lee. The Kiwi has long been commenting on the increasing parity on tour and how the heightened level of competition makes the LPGA Tour so exciting.
But Ko has been playing some sensational golf herself, more than deserving of the $2 million winner’s check that will be handed out on Sunday. After carding a bogey-free 6-under 66 in her second round at the CME Group Tour Championship, Ko sits a whopping five strokes ahead of the field.
As a player director on the LPGA Board, Ko got a sneak peek at the schedule before everyone else and saw the work that went into the total purse increase firsthand.
“When we sit in the board meeting with everybody that’s involved with the tour, it was super cool when I first saw it and how it was going to hit over 100,” Ko said coming off the 18th green Friday afternoon. “For it to keep improving it shows, one, how much our partners believe in us and, two, the level of play on the LPGA (Tour). That’s why people want to support us.
“I obviously haven’t been on tour for a really, really long time, but in my nine years to see how much the tour has grown and how much opportunity all of us players are getting, I think it’s just great for not only us that are playing right now, but for the future generations.
“I feel like the LPGA Tour is making a stance on not just women’s golf, but in women’s sports and how everybody should see female athletes.”
After a thrilling 2022 season that saw 26 different winners – 11 of which were Rolex First-Time Winners – 2023 promises to bring even more excitement to the LPGA Tour. With so much money on the line and so much competition anything could happen, so it will be well worth watching.