What is Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan getting herself into? All you need to know about the 2018 LPGA Tour
What lies ahead for Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching in 2018 as she becomes the first Hongkonger to join the biggest tour in women’s golf?
After Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching’s second-place finish at the LPGA Tour Q-school ensured that she would be joining the LPGA Tour next season, becoming the first Hongkonger to do so, we ask what lies in wait for her in 2018.
What is the LPGA Tour?
The pre-eminent and longest established of the nine ladies tours globally, the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour is the sister to the men’s PGA tour. Founded in 1950, it’s one of the oldest organisations in women’s professional sport.
How long is the season and what are the big events?
The 34-event season for 2018 will tee off with the Pure-Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic on January 26 and concludes in Florida with the CME Group Tour Championship in November.
In between there are events held in the United States and a dozen other countries including China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Canada, Thailand and France. Five of those tournaments are regarded as majors.
The first major of the season is the ANA Inspiration held at California’s Mission Hills course from March 30. This will be followed by the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, a tournament that dates back to 1955 and for 2018 will be held at the Kemper Lakes Golf Club outside of Chicago for the first time next June and July.
The biggest major, by prize money and the fact that it predates the LPGA itself, is the US Women’s Open and the 2018 event will take place in Shoal Creek, Alabama in July.
The Ricoh British Women’s Open moves from Scotland to England and will call the course at Royal Lytham & Saint Anne’s home in August, while the Evian Championship is scheduled to return to the Evian Course in France in September. The final tournament of the season, the CME Group Tour Championship, will see the best players fight it out in Naples, Florida.
How much can Tiffany Chan win?
A total of US$67.65 million was up for grabs in 2017, the largest purse in history and up US$4.65 million from 2016. This figure is expected to increase again for the 2018 tour.
The winner of an event generally takes a 15 per cent cut of the overall purse. The largest total purse is the US$5 million at the US Women’s Open, of which the winner walks away with US$900,000. The next biggest-earning tournament is the Evian Championship which had an increased prize pot of US$3.65 million for 2017, with the winner Anna Nordqvist taking a US$547,500 cut. The largest single prize is US$1 million for winning the Race to the Globe, a season-long points competition won by Lexi Thompson, of the US, last season.
Chan finished her brief three-month stint on the Symetra Tour with US$32,868 from 13 tournament appearances.
The Symetra Tour’s 2017 prize purse was a mere US$2.85 million, while there were 16 LPGA events that featured more than US$2 million in prize money. In all, 17 players earned over US$1 million in prize money last season.
How do rookies usually fare?
The winner of the 2017 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the year, Park Sung-hyun of South Korea, won both the US Women’s Open Championship, her first major and her first victory on tour, and the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in her debut season. Park also became the quickest to reach US$1 million and US$2 million in tour earnings, finishing the season at the top of the official money charts. Park also shared the Rolex Player of the Year honours with compatriot Ryu So-yeon.
Chan will have competition among the rookie intake for 2018, including Q-school winner Nasa Hataoka and nine of the 10 players who earned their cards as top earners on the Symetra Tour where Chan spent three months of the season.
Who are the stars that Chan will have to beat?
Aside from the South Korean pair of Park and Ryu, who won the ANA Inspiration, there’s a lot of competition, including the winner of last year’s Women’s British Open Kim In-kyung, another South Korean. US golfer Danielle Kang won the Women’s PGA Championship, while Thompson won the Race To CME Globe, the season-long points competition that sees the leading 72 golfers play in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. This tournament was won by Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn.
Other big names on the tour include American Michelle Wie, China’s Feng Shanshan (the world number one) and Sweden’s Nordqvist.
January 26-29: Season begins with Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic
March 30-April 2: ANA Inspiration
June 29-July 2: KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
July 13-16: US Women’s Open
August 3-6: Ricoh Women’s British Open
September 14-17: The Evian Championship
November 16-19: Season closes with CME Group Tour Championship
Dates subject to change in final LPGA schedule