3 LPGA predictions we nailed in 2023 (and 3 others we botched!)

At the beginning of 2023, we published 6 bold predictions for the upcoming LPGA season. Here’s how they turned out.

The post 3 LPGA predictions we nailed in 2023 (and 3 others we botched!) appeared first on Golf.

At the beginning of 2023, we published 6 bold predictions for the upcoming LPGA season. Here’s how they turned out.

The post 3 LPGA predictions we nailed in 2023 (and 3 others we botched!) appeared first on Golf.

Just like that, the 2023 LPGA season is coming to a close.

Ten months after kicking off the playing calendar at Lake Nona, the LPGA is back in Florida this week as it closes out the year at the CME Group Tour Championship. And while it feels like the season happened in a blink, there’s been plenty of intrigue since January.

Before the season began, I put together 6 bold predictions to watch for this season. Now, as the season comes to a close, it’s time to look back and see which prognostications I nailed and botched.

Nailed ’em!

1. Lydia Ko does not win in 2023

Lydia Ko hits a bunker shot
Lydia Ko had a disappointing 2023 campaign. Getty Images

Prediction: Lydia Ko found her old form in 2022, winning three times and earning Player of the Year honors. But while 2022 was a resounding success, it might not necessarily portend to another banner year. Over the last two months, Ko went through a couple of big life changes. First, she split with swing coach Sean Foley, whom she credited as being “more than just a swing coach.” And second, she got married over the short offseason. These were two seismic shifts in Ko’s life, and while the two life events do not automatically spell doom for her golf game, it’s hard not to wonder how she will respond on the course.

Outcome: Unfortunately for Ko, this prediction turned out true. Despite a return to world No. 1 last fall, the 26-year-old couldn’t continue the momentum into 2023. She went winless on the LPGA for the first time since 2020, recorded just two top 10s and, shockingly, failed to qualify for the Tour Championship. Ko did win in February on the Ladies European Tour, but coming off a stellar 2022, this season was a disappointment on the course.

2. Rose Zhang contends in a major

rose zhang celebrates
Rose Zhang’s ascendence was one of the biggest storylines of the summer. Getty Images

Prediction: Rose Zhang surprised many last summer when she announced her intention to return to Stanford for her sophomore season, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see her teeing it up in some pro events this season. Thanks to her title as the No. 1-ranked amateur, Zhang is all but assured to make some appearance among the game’s elite this season — including at majors. The 19-year-old has already played in 10 majors in her young career, and she made the cut in all three appearances last season. If she plays her way into any of the majors in 2023, it would not be surprising at all to see her contend for the title.

Outcome: Zhang’s professional debut (and subsequent win) was one of the biggest stories of the summer. Just weeks after claiming the NCAA title, the 20-year-old stepped into the bright lights at Liberty National and won in her first start as a professional. But her success didn’t stop there. Over her next four starts, Zhang played in three majors, finishing in the top 10 each time. Not bad for a kid fresh out of college.

3. Team Europe wins third straight Solheim Cup

solheim cup tv cameras
Carlota Ciganda was the Solheim Cup hero in her home country. Getty Images

Prediction: Team USA leads the all-time Solheim Cup series record 10-7, but as of late, the European side has dominated the biennial team competition. The Euros are winners of two straight Solheim Cups heading into 2023 — including a gutsy 15-13 win at Inverness in 2021 — and they’ll have the home-course advantage this fall. With much of the 2021 nucleus looking to qualify once again this year, the European ladies will be a tough out at Finca Cortesin in 2023.

Outcome: Okay, Team Europe didn’t technically win the Solheim Cup (the match ended in a 14-14 tie), but retaining the Cup was still a success. After falling behind 4-0 early to the Americans, Team Europe rallied behind captain Suzanne Peterson with an epic Sunday charge. Veteran Swede Caroline Hedwall wrote her name in Solheim Cup lore with her inspired singles performance, while Carlota Ciganda clinched the tying point in her home country. With the competition headed back to the States next year, Stacy Lewis and Team USA will be looking to end a seven-year winless streak.

Botched ’em!

1. Lexi Thompson (finally) wins another major

Lexi Thompson watches drive at LPGA event
Lexi Thompson was winless yet again in 2023. Getty Images

Prediction: Lexi Thompson has quickly become one of the most tragic figures in golf. Whereas once she was a can’t-miss prospect and the future of the game in America, she is now a big-name with a bigger list of what-ifs. She hasn’t won on the LPGA Tour since 2019, and seemingly every year is packed with more heartbreak (see: 2021 U.S. Women’s Open2022 KPMG Women’s PGA). But the thing is, her talent hasn’t gone anywhere. Thompson is still one of the best ball-strikers on the planet, and she always seems to elevate her game in majors. Despite not winning a big one in almost a decade, she’s been on the brink many times. She has 14(!) top-10s in majors since 2015, including six top-fives over the last four years. If Thompson keeps putting herself on the front page of leaderboards on Sundays, she’s bound to breakthrough eventually. This could be the year.

Outcome: Thompson got off to a horrendous start this season as she made just two cuts before September and finished no better than T31. Things got better in the fall as she racked up three top 10s, went 3-1-0 in the Solheim Cup and made her debut on the PGA Tour, but a win never materialized. It wasn’t the greatest season for the superstar, but she’ll have some positive momentum heading into 2024.

2. Nelly Korda wins three times

nelly korda frowns
Nelly Korda didn’t find the winner’s circle in 2023. Getty Images

Prediction: Nelly Korda had a rough go of it in 2022, missing several months with a serious blood clot and failing to replicate her monster 2021. But the way she finished out last season gives plenty of reasons for optimism. Korda finished in the top 10 in three straight events to close out the year — including a win at the Pelican Championship — as she finally seemed to shake the rust that plagued her for much of the summer. Now a year into her tutelage under GOLF Top 100 Teacher Jamie Mulligan, Korda is poised to have another dominant season in 2023.

Outcome: I was buying all the Nelly Korda stock heading into 2023, but that investment never materialized. Korda started the year with a bang as she signed with Nike and TaylorMade, but injury troubles yet again plagued the 25-year-old. Her time with Mulligan was also short-lived as she was seen working with GOLF Top 100 Teacher Jason Baile mid-way through the season. No matter, Korda couldn’t find the winner’s circle and fell well short of her dominant 2021 benchmarks.

3. Atthaya Thitikul wins Player of the Year

atthaya thitikul swings
Atthaya Thitikul had a solid 2023 campaign, but fell short of Player of the Year honors. Getty Images

Prediction: If you don’t know the name Atthaya Thitikul, get familiar with it. The 19-year-old won LPGA Rookie of the Year honors in 2022, and finished in the top five in the Player of the Year race. She won twice in her debut season, and she didn’t miss a single cut in the process. Now a year older and wiser, Thitikul is poised to become one of the biggest stars in the women’s game. If she can build off her successful rookie campaign, the teenager has the potential to be the top dog on the LPGA Tour in 2023.

Outcome: After her Rookie of the Year campaign in 2022, Thitikul seemed poised to take the next step into superstardom. And while the 20-year-old has plenty of time to fulfill that potential, 2023 was not that year. Her stats were solid in her sophomore campaign when she posted 11 top 10s, but she finished well behind Lilia Vu in the race for Player of the Year.

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