Greatness in sports, or for that matter in any professional field, is constant discomfort in the quest to raise the bar. For elite Asian female golfers, it also means hours of hard work on the driving range, smoothing out rough edges before heading to the golf course for practice.
That day may well have been a small improvement, but realizing that moving up a notch while taking care of blistered palms and glancing at low cards for the feel-good factor is the motivation of an elite athlete that these Asian female golfers have mastered. at this point.
Last year, Tiger Woods, in his prime, inspired generations with his charismatic play, and continues to do so, when a reporter asked him what he considered greatness.
Several names like Michael Jordan and LeBron James were thrown at Tiger, who agreed with them and agreed that they define greatness. Now, that’s the insight Tiger came up with that landed him at the top of the all-time athlete list.
Greatness, he begins, is doing what no one else can, and doing it for a while—a decade or more, in a way that “it sticks in our memory.”
Over time, golf’s explosive growth on the continent has produced many such Asian female golfers who not only fit Tiger’s great prescription, but continue to chart a journey, each unique, that continues to inspire golfers people, men, and women in Asia and beyond, with their indomitable spirit and passion for excellence.
The list is long and the top 15 is more difficult to pick, but here are some of the best female golfers in Asia over time.
These are the best Asian female golfers in the world
Inbee Park, the former world No. 1 for a record 109 weeks, is originally from South Korea but moved to the United States at the age of 12 and is something of an enigma because of her belief in keeping her private life private. It’s a choice, but Inbee has given her fans countless reasons to celebrate her feat on the golf course. Inbee, who credits her father as a major source of inspiration, has inspired dozens of Asian golfers, especially women, with her impressive resume, which lists seven of her 21 victories in majors Championship, and is the youngest player inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame.
Current world number one Lydia Ko emerged from the Korean talent pool before settling in New Zealand, balancing academics and golf before realizing where her passion lay. Since then, it has been another milestone. The list is long — youngest to win an LPGA title at 15, youngest to win a major and top the standings at 17, and the first person to win the LPGA Medal of Honor for the third time in 2021.
Kim Se Young
In a sense, Kim is an exception, unlike many of the top Asian female golfers who have been inspired or pushed by their parents to take up the game, a natural transition for the Korean.
But Kim made sure she excelled in everything she tried, whether it was golf or kickboxing, for which she held a black belt. The 30-year-old has 12 career victories on the LPGA, including a major at the 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, as well as a 2019 on the Korea Tour. 5 championship titles. Her professional income was $12,128,420.
Choi Na Yeon
Choi defeated LPGA Hall of Famer Pak Se-ri at the age of 17 to win the Korean LPGA professional title. This set off a chain reaction, as she won at least once a year in South Korea from 2004 to 2007.
With Choi finishing 11th on the 2008 LPGA money list and finishing second in the Rolex Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year award, the stage just got bigger.
Over the next two years, Choi won four times on the LPGA (twice each), followed by another in 2011 and two more in 2012, including her only major. Slam victory.
The rigors of the tour and the hardships of putting golf above all else took its toll, and Choi embarked on other adventures. She now has her own YouTube channel and a huge following on social media.
Perth-born Minjee Lee is Korean and has played on the LPGA and Ladies European Tour with five victories. In 2016, Lee won her first Grand Slam Rakuten Championship title, becoming the first Australian to do so. The 2017 Rolex Player of the Year is in the top 10 on the LPGA Money List starting 2018 and is second in 2022 with $3.8 million. A big chunk of her earnings last season came at the U.S. Women’s Open, her second major title.
Zhen Yong Gao
Since turning pro at 18, Jin Young Ko’s stardom has been on the rise. The 27-year-old has 14 wins on the LPGA Tour, including the 2018 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the 2019 Evian Championship and the 2019 AIG Ladies Open. That same year, Ko became the youngest LPGA Player of the Year.
Ko set another milestone two seasons ago, becoming the first player to win the LPGA Player of the Year and the CME Globe title in the same season. Ko topped the women’s rankings for most of last year and started 2023 at No. 5. Of course, she’s one of the most interesting female golfers to watch.
Inspiring generations of Korean players on the LPGA Tour, Se Ri Pak turned pro after scoring 30 victories in an illustrious amateur career. She turned professional in 1996 and became world No. 1 in 2003.
With an impressive résumé that lists 25 victories on the LPGA Tour, including five majors, and a total of 34 career titles worldwide, Pak was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame and LPGA Hall of Fame. This makes her a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame as the most decorated golfer in the history of the game.
Taipei doesn’t have a rich tradition in golf, but Yani Tseng has opened a course that has made her one of the most successful players on the LPGA Tour and won five majors.
She started golfing at the age of 5 and became the youngest player to win a professional championship at 14, an impressive roster, highlighted by 2011 LPGA Player of the Year and 2012 LPGA Tour Player of the Year . Hailed as one of the greatest Asian female golfers of all time on the LPGA Tour, Ms Zeng won three of her first five starts in the 2012 LPGA season. Her form took a hit in late 2013, and the lull continues.
Park Sung Hyun
Park was already a star on the Korean Tour when he broke into the LPGA Tour in 2017, winning both Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards. Those honors build on her first major title and another tour title at the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open.
That year, she finished No. 1 in the world and repeated the feat twice more. A shoulder injury held her back in 2019, but the pandemic gave her time to recover. Claiming to be in full health, she is determined to shake off her poor form in 2023 with multiple titles.
History remembers Ai Miyazato as the only woman in women’s golf to reach the top of the rankings three times without winning a major. Still, Miyazato’s career was dotted with trophies before she came to an end in 2017. Throughout the course, she has won 9 titles on the LPGA Tour and 15 titles on the Japan LPGA Tour.
As an amateur, she won the pro event at the Japan Tour Dunlop Ladies Open in 2003 while attending high school in Miyagi Prefecture.
A veritable child prodigy, Wie started playing golf at the age of four, shortly after her parents moved to Hawaii from South Korea.
Inspired by her amateur golfer mother, Michelle Wie became the youngest-ever participant in the USGA Amateur Championship.
After turning pro at age 15, she became the youngest player on the LPGA Tour in 2004.
With five career wins on the LPGA Tour and a major at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, Wie has lost her touch lately but has grown enough to become one of the face of U.S. women’s golf.
Aditi Ashok’s star is on the rise, and she’s got India up early and glued to the TV as she battles for a possible bronze medal at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. She fell short of a medal, but the valiant effort brought women’s golf to the fore in a country of 1.3 billion people.
Aditi has been a trailblazer in women’s golf in India since turning professional in 2016, with wins on the Ladies European Tour and some good results on the LPGA Tour.
The two-time Olympian got off to a strong start to the year, claiming a long-awaited LET victory at the season-opening magical Kenyan Women’s Open and finishing third at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco a week later.
Among the many exciting names to watch, Muni Ho took up golf because she wanted to spend more time with her father.
Unbeknownst to her family who immigrated from China to Canada before finally settling in San Diego, time spent on the golf course ignited a passion that took her on the LPGA Tour while her swing made the world Marvel at it.
After excelling in college golf, he turned pro in December 2017 and won the Symetra Tour at the 2018 Plasco Charity Tournament in Maineville, Ohio. She then went on to win eight rounds of the LPGA Q Series, securing her card for the 2020 LPGA Tour season.
So Yeon Yoo
So Yeon Ryu, who divides her time between Korea and the LPGA Tour, has a stat that puts her at the top of the list, right next to an idol.
Ryu Hyun-jin has the most LPGA top-five finishers after Annika Sorenstam, who won two majors at the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2017 ANA Inspiration Championship.
Nice milestone, but what’s happening in Ryu’s career right now is a far cry from when she was taking golf as an extracurricular activity in her sophomore year.
Jiyai Shin did something that very few people at her stage would do. She won 11 times on the LPGA Tour between August 2008 and February 2013, and in 2014 Shin left to spend time with her father in South Korea.
The two-time Grand Slam champion, who was ranked No. 1 in the world for 25 consecutive weeks in 2010 and 2011, did ensure that the move would not put an end to her competitive urge.
The Japan Tour is now her sphere of influence, as she has 29 career victories in Japan and if that is to be combined with her 21 in Korea, the 34-year-old is far from over.
This article first appeared on Prestige Singapore
(Main image: Getty Images/LPGA; Featured image: Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images/LPGA)