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These LPGA stars got their first wins in 2023 (and other interesting numbers from an unusual season)

The LPGA’s official 2023 season came to a close on Sunday and a number of new benchmarks were set as the tour played for a record amount of money.

No one could’ve possibly imagined that Lilia Vu, a player who thought about quitting the game to go to law school a short time ago, would win two majors and emerge as the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year.

Similarly, no one could’ve imagined the number of stars who would struggle to not just find the winner’s circle, but qualify for CME.

It was a bit of an unusual year on the LPGA this season. Here’s a look at some of the tour’s most interesting numbers:

12, plus 1

Rolex Vice President of Marketing and Communications Mounia Mechbal, Angel Yin of the United States, Hae Ran Ryu of South Korea, Chanettee Wannasaen of Thailand, Megan Khang of the United States, Alexa Pano of the United States, Elizabeth Szokol of the United States, Linn Grant of Sweden, Allisen Corpuz of the United States, Rose Zhang of the United States, Grace Kim of Australia, Ruoning Yin of China, and Lilia Vu of the United States pose for a photo after being recognized as 2023 Rolex First-Time Winners during the 2023 LPGA Rolex Players Awards at Tiburon Golf Club on November 16, 2023, in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

A record 12 players were Rolex First-Time winners this season, up from a record-tying 11 last season (first set in 1995).

Those 12 were honored at the Rolex LPGA Awards on Thursday evening and included: Allisen Corpuz, Linn Grant, Mone Inami, Megan Khang, Grace Kim, Alexa Pano, Elizabeth Szokol, Hae Ran Ryu, Chanettee Wannasaen, Lilia Vu, Angel Yin, Ruoning Yin and Rose Zhang.

While Japan’s Mone Inami won her first LPGA title in Japan earlier this month, because she did not become an official member for 2023, her victory, while official, did not make her a Rolex First-Time winner.

Last week, Inami officially accepted LPGA membership for 2024, which means that she is now eligible to compete in the season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions next January.

Lydia Ko of New Zealand walks off the 14th tee during the first round of The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican Golf Club on November 09, 2023, in Belleair, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Lydia Ko of New Zealand walks off the 14th tee during the first round of The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican Golf Club on November 09, 2023, in Belleair, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

One of the most stunning storylines throughout the 2023 LPGA season was the drought suffered by many of the tour’s stars. Lydia Ko, last season’s Rolex Player of the Year, was the most surprising player to go winless on tour this season, though she did win on the Ladies European Tour in Saudi Arabia.

Nelly Korda, Lexi Thompson, Atthaya Thitikul, Danielle Kang and Jennifer Kupcho combined for zero LPGA titles this year. While it’s a drought that dates back to 2019 for Thompson, Korda won five titles in the two previous seasons.

Thitikul, last year’s Rookie of the Year, had 13 top-10s this season, the most in a season by a player without a win since Stacy Lewis in 2015.

11

Rose Zhang of the United States plays her shot from the second tee during the second round of the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club on November 17, 2023, in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Rose Zhang of the United States plays her shot from the second tee during the second round of the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club on November 17, 2023, in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

While many top American players failed to find the winner’s circle this year, the U.S. managed to lead the way on the LPGA in victories by country with 11 total. It marks the most American wins in a single season since 2022 and 2018 (nine total).

The following eight U.S. players won in 2023: Allisen Corpuz, Megan Khang, Cheyenne Knight, Alexa Pano, Elizabeth Szokol, Lilia Vu (4), Angel Yin, Rose Zhang.

South Korea came in second with five victories: Hyo Joo Kim, Jin Young Ko (2), Hae Ran Ryu and Amy Yang.

34

Amy Yang on the 18th green after winning the CME Group Tour Championship at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., on Sunday, November 19, 2023.
Amy Yang on the 18th green after winning the CME Group Tour Championship at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., on Sunday, November 19, 2023.

Amy Yang became the oldest champion of the 2023 season at 34 years, 3 months and 22 days after her she won the CME Group Tour Championship by three strokes.

Yang edged out Ashleigh Buhai, who was 34 years, 1 month when she won this year’s ShopRite LPGA Classic.

“Age is just number,” said Yang with a smile.

Alexa Pano was the youngest winner on tour this year, claiming the ISPS Handa World Invitational title on her 19th birthday.

66.42

Alison Lee of the United States plays her shot from the 11th tee during the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club on November 19, 2023, in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Alison Lee of the United States plays her shot from the 11th tee during the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club on November 19, 2023, in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Alison Lee finished up the 2023 LPGA season as the hottest player on tour, notching three runner-up finishes in her last three starts. In the middle of that stretch, she won the Ladies European Tour’s Aramco Team Series event at Riyadh Golf Club by eight strokes.

Lee’s combined score in relation to par in her last three LPGA starts is 56 under. Her scoring average during that stretch: 66.42.

And that doesn’t include those mind-boggling scores in Saudi: 61-61-65.

It was an emotional finish for the 28-year-old Lee in Naples as she’s forced to wait until next year for her first LPGA victory, despite the best golf of her career.

“It sucks to come second place three times,” said Lee, “but I’ve enjoyed every second of it and it’s been amazing. I mean, I honestly didn’t think I could be in this position again.”

28

Cheyenne Knight of the United States plays her shot from the 11th tee during the second round of the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club on November 17, 2023, in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Cheyenne Knight of the United States plays her shot from the 11th tee during the second round of the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club on November 17, 2023, in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

A record 28 players crossed the $1 million mark in earnings this season. That’s up from eight a decade ago.

Lilia Vu topped the money list with $3,502,303. A total of three players crossed the $3 million mark, another first for the tour.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek