10 Future Stars of Women's Golf To Watch Out For In 2018!
1. Sung Hyun Park 박성현
Nationality: South Korea
World Ranking: 2
Turned Pro: 2012
Number 1 on the list may seem like an obvious choice but if you are looking for someone who could dominate the 2018 season, then no look no further than Sung Hyun Park. She marked her first year on the LPGA by becoming the first player since 1978 to win rookie of the year and player of the year in the same season. If that was not enough she also won her first major by winning the US open. Having dominated the Korean LPGA for the previous 3 years she now looks set to be the one to beat this season and add to her 1 major win. Sung Hyun Park is currently ranked number 2 in the world but we can see her returning to 1st place and staying there for a long time to come.
Park did not miss 1 single cut the whole year on the LPGA Tour. Her stats are pretty handy as well finishing 7th in driving distance, 7th in greens in regulation and 2nd with scoring average .
2. Georgia Hall
World Ranking: 40
Turned Pro: 2014
Georgia now 21 turned pro in 2014 when she was 18. She is currently world number 40 and she has just won the 2017 Ladies European Tour Order of Merit for the first time.
Georgia had early success, winning the Open Generali de Strasbourg on the LET Access tour. In early 2016 she won the Oates Victorian Open on the ALPG Tour.
2017 has been a fantastic year for Georgia to say the least. As well as winning the Order of Merit she was also a vital part of the European Solheim Cup, being the only player to play all 5 matches. “I proved that I can play against the best players in the world,” said Hall. This experience obviously helped as she decided to play in the LPGA qualifying school for the first time. After an opening 77 “That was the worst round I played all year,” admitted Hall which put her 133rd place she fought back with gritted determination to earn her card for next season. Georgia also had a T3rd place at the British Open this year.
Georgia on golf; “I love golf so much, I love travelling, I love playing in tournaments. I enjoyed the journey to get into a Solheim Cup team, for example, and that became something I was totally focused on. Doing anything else didn’t really interest me. I don’t feel I have lost out anymore; maybe when I was younger, only going to school for half a day before practicing, that could be true but I would do it all over again. It is paying off; I love what I do, if I didn’t I wouldn’t do this.”
Next year she we will competing on the LPGA Tour and she will be one to look out for.
3. Julia Engstrom
World Ranking: -
Turned Pro: Amateur
We believe that one of the performances of the season took place last week at the Q school final on the Ladies European Tour in Morocco. After opening rounds of 67, 67, and 72 Julia was sitting pretty at the top of the leaderboard and looking guaranteed to earn her card. On day 4 she shot a 79 which sent her plummeting down the standings which for most tour veterans would be tough to bounce back from. She regained her composure and finished with a 67 to finish T9th and earning her tour card for next year. Not bad for 16 year old!
Watching the 2007 Solheim Cup take place in her home town of Halmstad at age six inspired her and by the age of thirteen she was a scratch player. Julia made her tour debut at the age of 13 at the Helsingborg Open. In 2016, at age 15, Engström became the youngest player to win the British Ladies Amateur Golf Championship, after winning she was asked about the achievement and said "When I played the tournament, I didn’t even know about the record. It finally hit me when they told me during the prize ceremony.I was the only one left from Sweden when I won, so my coach and I went out for something to eat but we were so tired so we went back to the hotel and caught up on sleep! I was able to celebrate with my friends when I came home" . This earned her starts at the 2016 U.S. Women's Open, British Open, and the Evian Championship were unfortunately she missed the cuts.
This year she won the World Junior Championships with Sweden and also represented team Europe in the junior Solheim Cup.
With her tour card on the LET for next year it's going to exiting to watch what this talented youngster can achieve!
4. Muni He
World Ranking: 594
Turned Pro: 2017
Muni He described her transition from the amateur to professional ranks as “pretty smooth” after only turning pro a month ago before the Omega Dubai Ladies Tournament. She did well finishing in T28th spot. When asked about her future after the tournament she replied “I am planning on playing the Symetra Tour. So my goals are just to get through it and be able to get my card by the end of the year and better my game,”
After growing up in China her family moved to Canada before going on to live in San Diego. “Moving to Southern California helped take my game to the next level.” At the age of 16 she qualified for the US Open and made the cut!
This year has seen the biggest improvement in her game going from being a good amateur to competing on the professional ranks. She puts this down to improving her short game, “The short game was really my weak point, so I think the improvements in scoring and performance [this year] have come from the amount of practice I’ve put into my putting,”
It will be interesting to see how she competes on the Symertra Tour this year and she will definitely be one to watch. Her aim world number 1, "I'm very happy to see obviously Shanshan just became the first world No. 1 that's Chinese. So it's something for me to work towards and very motivating,".
With over 100,000 followers on Instagram she is already causing quite a stir away from the golf course as well.
5. Nelly Korda
World Ranking: 77
Turned Pro: 2016
Nelly Korda is younger sister of fellow professional Jessica who is ranked 26th in the world. The daughters of Czech parents who were both pro tennis players.
Nelly just finished her first year on the LPGA Tour with some impressive displays culminating in a tie for 8th at the Tour Championship. Also she made 19 cuts and 5 top 10 finishes. The previous year she played the Symetra tour where she picked up her only pro win at the Sioux Falls Great LIFE Challenge in September 2016.
After a good start to life on the tour she finished 3rd for the race to rookie of the year. She has loved her first year on tour especially sharing the stage with her sister “She’s my best friend and having her out here means a lot. She just guides me and having her out here makes me feel really comfortable so it definitely helps.”
Explaining while they didn't go into tennis like their parents Nelly “We love sports, very sport-oriented. (We) figure skated, gymnastics, occasionally tennis, skied. We did all sorts of things. When my dad retired he started golfing and my sister started and I just followed in their footsteps. Dad’s really good. He shoots around even-par. He was a scratch (golfer). He still beat me two or three years ago.”
One to watch for 2018 and only 19!
6. Anne Van Dam
World Ranking: 145
Turned Pro: 2015
The resurgence of European golf is on the cards and our prediction is that Anne Van Dam will be one of those stars. After turning pro 2 years ago she has risen to 145 in the world. She capped that off with a 5th place finish this year on the LET Order of Merit with 3 top 10 finishes.
Her only victory on the LET came at the 2016 Xiamen International Open. Although she did not have a victory this year she led the driving distance stats and birdies made on the LET. She also had the 2nd most top 10s behind Order of Merit winner Hall.
At the end of the season she tried to qualify for the LPGA Tour and after an opening 68 looked on course to do so. However, 3 poor rounds let her down. The big hitting Dutch girl will be certainly one to look out for on the European Tour next year.
7. Choi Hye-jin (최혜진)
Nationality: South Korea
World Ranking: 13th
Turned Pro: 2017
Choi Hye-jin who turned pro in August of this year has just won the Order of Merit on the Korean LPGA by more than double the points of 2nd place. She started the year well winning the Australian Amateur Championship and following that up with 3 wins on the KLPGA Tour. At the US open she was aiming to become only the 2nd amateur to win the event. At the age of 17 she finished in 2nd place a remarkable achievement. She did however break a lot of records, her nine-under 279 is the lowest score ever shot by an amateur in the U.S. Women’s Open, breaking Grace Park’s previous record set in 1999 by four strokes. Choi also became the fourth amateur to finish alone in second in the Open. “It was excellent just to be playing, and to get to be runner-up, it is an unbelievably joyous thing for me.” said Choi.
Choi's management agency said in November that she was accepted to Korea University, one of Korea's best universities. She will start their in 2018.
This teen sensation will sure to be a star of the future.
8. Paphangkorn Tavatanakit
World Ranking: -
Turned Pro: Amateur
After a recent rise of strong golfers from Thailand, Paphangkorn can definitely become a star like the others.
Tavatanakit made some giant strides in her play last season when she won the 2016 AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions. She also competed as an amateur in last year’s Honda LPGA Thailand, where she tied for 42nd place .
Tavatanakit won the L.A. Junior Open twice (2014, 2015) and also shattered the tournament scoring record in the 2016 Ping Invitational, where she won by six strokes and earned honors as the 2016 AJGA Rolex Junior Player of the Year.
That honor paved the way for an invitation to play as an amateur in an LPGA Tour major, the Evian Championship in France where she unfortunately missed the cut.
She is currently studying at UCLA in America and will continue to play in some professional events next year.
It will exiting to see how she copes with university and the pro events she chooses to play.
9. Brooke Henderson
World Ranking: 14
Turned Pro: 2014
She won her first major at age 18 in 2016 at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, becoming the event's youngest winner and moving her to second in the world rankings. She now has 5 LPGA victories to her name.
Henderson made a great start to her career, she won the Canadian Women's Amateur in 2013 and finished runner-up at the 2014 U.S. Women's Amateur. While still an amateur, she won three events on the Canadian Women's Tour and finished tied for 10th place in the U.S. Women's Open at age 16.
This year she finished 6th in this years CME race to the Globe earning over $1.5 Million with 2 victories and 8 top 10 finishes.
Brooke's caddy is sister Brittany. Before every tournament, the player and their caddy will walk the course, getting all the distances and checking that everything in the yardage book is correct."You have to really scout out where you want be and also where you don't want to be," says Brooke. The team have done well and clearly done well together. 2018 will be a fascinating watch to see if this young Canadian can go on to win more tournaments and more majors.
10. Celine Boutier
World Ranking: 208
Turned Pro: 2016
Celine from Montrouge in France graduated from Duke Univeristy in America in 2016. The French player first came to international attention by winning the 2012 European Ladies’ Amateur Championship in Slovenia. In 2011, she won the AJGA Annika Invitational, and was a member of the European Junior Solheim Cup team. In 2010 she won the Italian International Amateur Championship. In 2009 she won the French Under-16 Championship.
After a strong amateur career she turned pro in 2016 after leaving Duke. In 2016 she finished 3rd in the European Q school final achieving her card for the LET. This year she has mixed the Symetra Tour & the LET. On the Symetra Tour she played in 20 events with 8 top 10 finishes and 2 victories leading to finishing 3rd on the Order of Merit and gaining her LPGA tour card for 2018.
She also played 4 events on the LET at the end of the season winning the Sanya Ladies Open in China! making it her first European Tour title. After winning Celine said "It’s amazing. It’s my first time playing in this event and my first time in China, so I couldn’t have expected the week to have gone any better, my putting was on fire on the back nine, so that helped me to get birdies. It was a lot of fun. The weather has been great and we were staying right by the beach, so it was a great mix of playing golf and going to the beach to relax.”
After her success on the Symetra Tour and her three top fifteen finishes in her 4 starts on the European Tour things look bright for this French star for 2018. It will be interesting to see how she gets on in the LPGA.