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Drummond Golf oct 2020
Epson Tour Championship - Meet the Graduates

Australia’s Grace Kim receives her LPGA card 

The Epson Tour annually awards LPGA Tour Membership to the top players on the Epson Tour official money list, and the conclusion of the Epson Tour Championship ushers in the 2022 graduating class.

 From 1999-2002, the official qualifying tour of the LPGA handed out three cards. Then from 2003-2007, that number increased to five before 10 cards started being distributed in 2008. Since that inaugural year, 182 players have graduated to the big stage including the top 10 from this season.

Please meet the 2022 Epson Tour graduates:

No. 1 Linnea Ström, 25 (Hovas, Sweden) – $119,190

Sunday was Ström’s second Epson Tour graduation. She first earned her card in 2018 but lost it at the end of the 2021 season. It took her less than a full season on the qualifying tour to find her way back to the highest stage. 

  • Player of the Year
  • 2018 Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year
  • Two-time champion: 2018 Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge and 2022 IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa
  • Six additional top-10 finishes this season
  • T4 at the 2020 ISPS Handa Vic Open, a career best finish on the LPGA Tour

Ström on earning 2023 LPGA Tour Membership: “I’m obviously very excited to have earned my LPGA card back for next year. After really struggling last season, my main goal for this season was to earn my card back, but it was also to find happiness again and enjoy playing golf. I’m extremely proud that I achieved that goal this season.”

No. 2 Xiaowen Yin, 17 (Tianjin, China) – $118,860

At 17 years, 10 months and 1 day old, Yin is the youngest player to clinch her card through the Epson Tour. The rookie from China earned her first professional wins in consecutive weeks to secure her spot in the LPGA Tour.

  • Rookie of the year
  • Two-time 2022 champion: FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship and French Lick Charity Classic
  • Five additional top-10 finishes
  • Finished 24th at the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur
  • Her highest World Amateur Golf Ranking was No. 7

Yin on earning 2023 LPGA Tour Membership: “I’m so happy. Like really happy that I get to play the LPGA Tour next year. I’m going to learn a lot from it. I’ve been getting more experience to get ready for my LPGA career. I’ve learned a lot on the Epson Tour, it’s given me a lot of confidence.”

No. 3 Lucy Li, 20 (Redwood Shores, California) – $110,111

After spending three seasons on the Epson Tour, Li became the first player to mathematically clinch her card for the 2023 LPGA season. Since then, Li has been finding ways to play at the highest level – either through sponsorship exemptions or by Monday qualifying. This week, she was in California playing at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship.

  • Played in six LPGA events this season and carded career-best finish (T4) at the Dana Open presented by Marathon
  • Two-time 2022 champion: Carolina Golf Classic presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and the Twin Bridges Championship
  • Her highest World Amateur Golf Ranking was #3
  • Member of the victorious 2018 Curtis Cup team
  • The youngest person to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open at just 11 years old

Li on earning 2023 LPGA Tour Membership: “It’s definitely been a big goal of mine for a long time. To finally be able to be out there and compete with the best in the world is very exciting. There’s a pretty big transition from amateur into professional golf and being on the Epson Tour was that pathway for me to make that transition. I think it’s huge for people turning pro.”

No. 4 Kiira Riihijarvi, 25 (Oulu, Finland) – $90,483

Since grabbing her first professional win at Ann Arbor’s Road to the LPGA powered by the A2 Sports Commission, Riihijarvi had bobbled in and out of the top 10 of the Epson Tour Official Money List. She turned up the heat at the end of September and carded two top-10 results to put herself just above the line.

  • Six additional top-20 finishes
  • Led the tour in greens in regulation (79.6%)
  • Champion, 2021 NCAA D2 South Regional
  • Her highest World Amateur Golf Ranking was #18
  • 28th at the 2021 Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship

Riihijarvi on earning 2023 LPGA Tour Membership: “It feels incredible. It's so cool. It feels very surreal. I don't really know what to do with myself right now, but it's really cool.”

No. 5 Grace Kim, 21 (Sydney, Australia) – $89,720

Less than two months into her first Epson Tour season, Kim captured her first professional win. The 21-year-old set the scoring record at the 2022 IOA Golf Classic presented by LPT Realty with an 18-under par performance, highlighted by a 7-under final round.

  • 10 top-20 finishes this season
  • Competed as an amateur in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 ISPS Handa Vic Open
  • Captured a seven-stroke victory at the 2021 Australian Women’s Amateur
  • Became the second Australian to be invited to Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2021

Kim on earning 2023 LPGA Tour Membership: “It's sunk in now, and it’s definitely really cool. I’m just really excited for next year to be amongst my role models. I’m really stoked.”

No. 6 Celine Borge, 24 (Tonsberg, Norway) – $89,710

Borge has been a member of the Epson Tour since 2019 and has shown marked improvement in the latter half of 2022. Prior to her first professional victory this season and a runner-up finish at the Guardian Championship, her best result was third place at the 2021 Island Resort Championship.

  • Champion, 2022 Tuscaloosa Toyota Classic presented by Pepsi
  • Seven additional top-20 results this season
  • Won the 2016 Irish Girls Stroke Play Championship
  • Finished in the top-25 at the 2017 Lalla Aicha Tour School to first earn Ladies European Tour membership as a 2018 rookie

Borge on earning 2023 LPGA Tour Membership: “During the season I didn't think too much about the top 10. I wasn't very close either. Last week, I was suddenly in the top 10. Maybe it was good that it was late this season, so I hadn't to think about it a lot.” 

No. 7 Gabriella Then, 26 (Rancho Cucamonga, California) – $86,578

The 26-year-old has been on the Epson Tour since 2017. Before the 2022 season, she had only cracked the top-20 twice in her career – both times during her rookie season. This year, Then recorded six top-20 finishes, including her first professional win at the Garden City Charity Classic at Buffalo Dunes

  • Played college golf at the University of Southern California
  • Ended her career at USC as the Trojans all-time leader in rounds played (145)
  • Medalist at the 2021 Final Qualifier for the Ladies European Tour (LET) Qualifying School
  • Opened her 2022 campaign on the LET playing the Saudi Ladies International, Joburg Ladies Open and Investec SA Women’s Open

Then on earning 2023 LPGA Tour Membership: “I cannot believe I'm freaking here. You know, beginning of last year I literally had nothing. I didn't have status on any tour in the world. Now to have status on the biggest tour in the world, which has been my dream since I was 14 years old is absolutely surreal.”

No. 8 Gina Kim, 22 (Durham, North Carolina) – $82,133

Last year, Kim finished T35 at the 2021 LPGA Q-Series to earn both Epson and LPGA Tour membership for this season. Though she’s played in 12 LPGA events, she’ll use her stellar results in 13 tournaments on the Epson Tour to avoid Q-Series this time around. 

  • First professional win at the Inova Mission Inn Resort & Club Championship
  • Seven additional top-20 results
  • Qualified for 2019 U.S. Women’s Open and finished T12 for low amateur honors
  • Member of the victorious Team USA at the 2021 Curtis Cup and 2021 Arnold Palmer Cup
  • Captured the 2021 ACC Championship individual title with a score of 10-under par, matching Duke’s lowest 54-hole ledger in the event

Kim on earning 2023 LPGA Tour Membership: “It feels amazing, because I managed to get the firsthand experience of what it's like to not have a great status and having to Monday Q into a lot of these LPGA events. So just being able to go out there and have a good foundation to start off, I think it's a huge game changer, so I'm really excited for that.”

No. 9 Yan Liu, 24 (Fujian, China) – $80,139

A member of the Epson Tour since 2020, Liu broke through in 2022 to clinch an LPGA berth in 2023. Through 2020 and 2021, Liu was unable to break into the top-10, but this season Liu was able to capture her first professional victory and push her into the mix.

  • Champion, 2022 Four Winds Invitational
  • Six additional top-20 results
  • Started playing golf at the age of 11
  • 32-hole bogey-free streak at the 2022 East Coast Women’s Pro Tour Redtail Women’s Championship 

Liu on earning 2023 LPGA Tour Membership: “I'm just very excited and hopefully I can play very well next year. But there’s no pressure, I just want to enjoy it.”

No. 10 Hyo Joon Jang, 19 (Seoul, Republic of Korea) – $78,611

Jang joined the top-10 in the final week of competition. Entering the Epson Tour Championship, Jang only needed a solo 53rd finish to advance in the rankings. Instead, she turned in a T11 performance boosting her to No. 10.

  • Five top-10 results
  • Second on the tour in birdies with 215
  • Carded her best performance at the Tuscaloosa Toyota Classic where she shot minus-14 and finished in second place.
  • Left Korea when she was 15 to join the International Junior Golf Academy (IJGA) in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida

Jang on earning 2023 LPGA Tour Membership: “I’m speechless. Like I literally have no words right now. It's just so overwhelming because I didn't expect this. I was not giving up, but I just felt like I was going to have to go to Q-Series. As soon as I heard from my friend that I got into top 10, I was just so happy and excited. I would love to go to Korea and talk about it with my family.”

ABOUT EPSON TOUR

The Epson Tour (formerly the Symetra Tour) is the official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour and enters its 42nd competitive season in 2022. With the support of entitlement partner Seiko Epson Corporation, the Tour’s mission is to prepare the world’s best female professional golfers for a successful career on the LPGA Tour. In the last decade, the Epson Tour has grown from 15 tournaments and $1.6 million in prize money to $4.41 million awarded across 20+ events in 2022. With more than 600 graduates and alumnae moving on to the LPGA Tour, former Epson Tour players have won 459 LPGA titles.

Follow the Epson Tour at www.epsontour.com, as well as FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Main Photo: The 2022 Epson Tour Graduates, from L-R: Hyo Joon Jang, Yan Liu, Gina Kim, Gabriella Then, Celine Borge, Grace Kim, Kiira Riihijarvi, Xiaowen Yin, Linnea Ström (Not pictured: Lucy Li)

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