There is a backup of appointments at the DMV, which means 19-year-old Yealimi Noh has to wait even longer to get her driver’s license. Noh still lives at home with his parents in Concord, Calif., And has no plans to move anytime soon. They travel through the LPGA as a family of three and she is very happy to have some help navigating these early years of professional life.
Noh took home $ 415,307 in official LPGA wins last year, competing multiple times and climbing to 46e in the world. It has been a terrific rookie season, given that it has been shortened to just 16 events due to a global pandemic.
Here’s the weird part: she’s restarting her rookie season.
The LPGA has decided not to host the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race in 2020 due to the pandemic. Unless a player wins in 2020, her place on the priority list has remained unchanged heading into 2021. That equates to an unprecedented mulligan season for 19 young pros.
“For us, having half a year last year,” Noh said, “is like a preview of what it’s going to be for the rest of our career.”
Five new recruits have been added to the mix for 2021, highlighted by 2020 US Women’s Open winner A Lim Kim. Four Symetra graduates have also joined the 2021 class.
Andrea Lee is not entirely sure at this point what her first event will be this season. It starts 2021 at 160e on the list of LPGA priorities despite the finish 48e on the silver list last year with $ 242,944. It is likely that a number of international players will skip the early events in Florida which would help his cause. The Gainbridge LPGA event at Nona Lake February 25-28 will bring together 120 players.
While a rookie couldn’t move up the priority list without winning, they could move up the Rolex leaderboard and the silver list, which helps the majors and the Solheim Cup. And for those who, like Noh and Lee, were making a good living last year, it’s clutch for a rookie to have a financial cushion to start the year (it wasn’t a loan!).
Haley Moore poses Bob McNichols, General Manager of the Longbow Golf Club, and Mike Brown, Cactus Tour Director, on December 27, 2020, after Moore won $ 10,000 for winning the inaugural Longbow Cactus Cup Championship in Mesa, Arizona. Photo by Noah Montgomery
On the course, a series of missed cups signaled a disappointing rookie season for Haley Moore. But the year was more than that. Moore has launched his new foundation to fight bullying. She also appeared on Hello america with Robin Roberts and was part of the LPGA’s Drive On advertising campaign.
On Christmas Day, Moore and her mother traveled to Arizona for the Longbow Cactus Cup Championship, a celebration of the Cactus Tour’s biggest winners. Moore hit the first hole of the playoffs to take home the $ 10,000 prize, which is almost half of his LPGA winnings.
Moore said her Arizona-based swing trainer came out and watched her compete, which was hugely beneficial as they hatched an offseason plan.
Moore noted that her biggest lesson of 2020 was learning to stay patient and stable.
“If you’re having a bad week and you can’t make the cut,” Moore said, “just drop it and move on to the next event because the next event might be the best you have. never had.”
Noh, like many recruits before her, had underestimated the role a caddy plays in her success. David Stone picked her up for the final events of the LPGA season and she saw an immediate change.
“The first event I was with him, I played really well,” she said of her second place finish at the Volunteers of America Classic. “The week before I was playing the exact same golf, it was just that he was next to me, giving me a lot of confidence, giving me a boost. Now I know exactly what I want to hear, what I want in a game plan.
As Stone returns to the PGA Tour, he helped Noh connect with Kyle Morrison for the 2021 season.
Noh said all about her success boils down to putting on. She has big goals set for her second year as a rookie, starting with winning an event “as soon as possible.” She would also like to be a rookie on this year’s US Solheim Cup squad and compete in the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Noh, who has claimed multiple LPGA contests before, said Sei Young Kim took on a sister role, first after finishing second at the Cambia Portland Classic 2019 as a non-member.
The goal in 2021 has changed from trying to experience it all for the first time, she said, to playing to win. The talented teenager is comfortable with the pressure that follows.
“A little pressure never kills anyone,” Noh said. “I think the pressure is great.”
While the 15 events Lee attended last year were more than she had planned to attend, she missed a big one after testing positive for COVID-19 the week of the US Women’s Open.
“The first few days in my hotel room, I was pretty miserable,” Lee said. “I was depressed.”
She devoured the memories of Phil Knight, Shoe dog, in two days and binged on The Queen’s Gambit. It wasn’t long before she was one of four rookies to play the shot at the CME Group Tour Championship.
The former Stanford star thought she could go skiing in the offseason, but decided she couldn’t take that long. she wants to add length off the tee, a higher ball trajectory for her longer irons, and sharpen edges from 100 yards and up.
“This year is kind of like you said, a pickup,” said Lee, “and I’m going to try to put myself in the best position to try to win Rookie of the Year.”
To do so, she will need to beat the most experienced rookie class in tour history.
Rookie Class LPGA 2021
Matilda Castren, Finland
Jennifer Chang, United States
Jiwon Jeon, South Korea
Linnea Johansson, Sweden
Esther Henseleit, Germany
Jillian Hollis, United States
Nuria Iturrioz, Spain
Yui Kawamoto, Japan
Kyung Kim, United States
Andrea Lee, United States
Esther Lee, United States
Haley Moore, United States
Yealimi Noh, United States
Leona Maguire, Ireland
Bianca Pagdanganan, Philippines
Maia Schechter, United States
Yujeong Son, South Korea
Patty Tavatanakit, Thailand
Albane Valenzuela, Switzerland