South Korean LPGA player Choi Hye-jin is eager to win the first competition in her debut year of the LPGA Tour.
Choi took a joint lead with other players including Carlota Ciganda of Spain in the first round of the Dana Open at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio on Friday. With no bogey but six birdies, she had a 6-under 65 in the first round.
Choi has recently been one of the most impressive players. In the CP Women's Open that ended last Friday, she ranked second jointly one stroke behind the winner. The third round ended with her jointly in top place. The Official Money Rankings of this year currently has Choi in 6th place with a total amount of 1.79 million and 6,020 dollars, making her the highest paid player this year among those who have not won any trophy since this year.
She is even higher in the prize money rankings than Atthaya Thitikul, one of Choi’s major competitors for the Rookie of the Year with one victory garnered this season (1.48 million 4,907 dollars, 8th place). In terms of greens in regulation or GIR, she currently ranks 4th recording 76.43 percent.
Choi may be desperate to win as it can take her a few steps closer to the Rookie of the Year, which last year went to Patty Tavatanakit who snatched the award that used to be owned by South Korean newbies for five consecutive years since 2015 to 2019. The year of 2020 was incorporated into the following year to select the best newbie due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This season has 10 competitions including the Dana Open to go. Thitikul and Choi are the two most prospective rising stars with 1,075 and 1,015 points, respectively. Ayaka Furue is way behind with 490 points. As winners gain 150 points while 2nd-place players earn 80 points for every competition, it is too early to confirm which player will record the highest score. Thitikul is also one of the most impressive players this season. She belonged to the top 10 players in three major competitions held between June and August including last month’s AIG Women’s Open where she tied for 7th place.
Finishing the first round on Friday, Choi said that although she failed to win the CP Women’s Open last month, it helped her gain more experience and enhance competence, hoping to make best use of what she learned in the last competition.
Hong-Gu Kang email@example.com