Also: A look into Sophia Schubert’s resilience, the LPGA’s fight for equal pay, and what’s next on the 2022 Tour.
A Core Tenet
In what ended up being a down-to-the-wire battle, Brooke Henderson claimed the 2022 Evian Championship trophy with just one stroke to spare. She ended the tournament at 17-under to clinch the win––and the $1 million payday. This is Henderson’s second-ever major tournament victory on the LPGA Tour.
Despite frequently placing well in competitions, Henderson didn’t register a Tour win during the first half of 2022. But then she took a brief pause from golf in May … and came back to the action looking like the world-beater that she always was. She proceeded to win two of the five tournaments she entered in June and July, including the Evian Championship. Clearly, biding her time on the Tour has paid dividends for her.
That same strategy of patience also helped Henderson lock up the major in France––at least judging by her assessment of the Championship’s final day. “Going into the back nine, you know, the saying is that majors are won on the back nine on Sunday [the final tournament day],” she said. “So I just tried to keep that frame of mind, and knew I was still in it if I could have a solid back.” Henderson’s success in France––and her further establishment as a golfing legend in Canada––should remind fans and athletes of a core tenet on the green: good things come to those who wait.
Putting the Pressure On
Sophia Schubert had nothing short of a solid showing in France. She ended the tournament at 16-under; in doing so, she took the runner-up spot and beat out golfing heavyweights like Lydia Ko and Hyo Joo Kim. But here’s the kicker: Schubert was 99th in the CME rankings prior to the tournament.
In the LPGA, only players ranked 1-100th in the CME standings (as well as a few crucial exceptions) receive priority consideration for next year’s Tour events, meaning that Schubert’s league-playing privileges in 2023 were in danger of being cut down. To play with that on her shoulders at a major Championship––and better yet, nearly win the competition and rocket up to 38th in the standings––suggests a level of mental strength that will keep Schubert on the Tour for a long, long time.
Up next for Schubert is the qualifying phase of the Women’s Scottish Open; while she didn’t receive a bye to the tournament proper, her reputation as a recent major runner-up will speak for itself if she makes it through the round. “I’m proud of myself, proud of everyone that’s helped me get to this point,” she said after her runner-up finish in France. “It came just short, but I know that I’ll be back, so I’m really happy.” That confidence in her own skills––and her ability to remain calm in the face of career-defining pressure––almost assures that she’ll be back to wow fans and take tournaments by storm, whether it’s in Scotland or beyond.
The Least That They Deserve
Now that four of the five 2022 LPGA majors have concluded, it’s safe to say that this year’s distribution of winners has been quite wide. With different victors for each event––including Jennifer Kupcho, who notched her first-ever Tour win at the Chevron Championship––the league has yet again proven to be highly unpredictable.
Of course, this unpredictability makes proceedings more exciting. It’s how we get moments like Henderson winning her second major with only one stroke to spare. It’s how we get epic rivalries like the battle between Karrie Webb and Annika Sörenstam. And it’s how the league’s top athletes can build fanbases and public interest so quickly––after all, you can’t count out anyone when everyone’s a tournament threat.
All of this begs the suggestion of better pay for LPGA players. The league has made progress in this aspect thanks to the huge purses up for grabs at events like the 2022 U.S. Open, and bridging the pay gap between the men’s and women’s associations seems to be a top priority for LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan. “I think if we can close that delta, and also if we can make sure that the top players in the world can make a living commensurate with their talent, I think that is a real big goal of ours,” she said in late 2021 (per Golf Digest). The women of the LPGA clearly work hard to deliver an entertaining product for fans and casuals alike––and this year, they’ve been once again successful in that endeavor. Whether the increase in pay eventually comes through lucrative brand deals or streaming contracts, it’s the least that these athletes deserve.
What’s Next? Luckily for fans, more LPGA action is just around the corner––this time in a different part of Europe, as the aforementioned Women’s Scottish Open starts on Thursday. World No. 1 Ko Jin Young is set to appear, as is Minjee Lee. But beyond that (on August 4th) is the final major of this year’s Tour: the Women’s British Open. It remains to be seen whether the tournament will continue the pattern of different winners for each 2022 major. But whether that history repeats itself or not, fans should be confident that the ladies of the LPGA will continue to bring the heat.