A couple of top-tier LPGA players are subject to a $25,000 fine for skipping this year’s Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. The LPGA’s 1-in-4 requirement stipulates that players in the top 80 of the CME points list compete in a domestic event once every four years.
Both Minjee Lee and Jin Young Ko have been absent from the TOC field in recent years and would need to compete in 2023 to avoid penalty. Tommy Tangtiphaiboontana, VP of tour operations for the LPGA, said that both players have the right to appeal, and the decision would go to the commissioner. Ko had signed up for the event but withdrew.
This year’s season-opening TOC is on an island, with a full month off before the second event of the season in Thailand. For players like Ko and Lee, it’s much easier to take more time to rest and prepare for the upcoming season near home before starting the Asian swing.
Jin Young Ko of Korea plays her shot from the 11th tee during the second round of the Pelican Women’s Championship at Pelican Golf Club on November 12, 2022, in Belleair, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Ko, of course, battled a wrist injury at season’s end and no doubt needed an extended period of rest over the offseason. Lee’s 2022 season extended into December as she competed in the Australian Open to close out her year. It’s a 24,000-mile round-trip hike for Lee to come from Perth, Australia, to Orlando, Florida for one event, a costly journey in more ways than one.
The history of the 1-in-4 rule dates back a little more than 20 years and originally applied to domestic events only, as those made up the bulk of the schedule. With names like Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak dominating headlines, it was important for tournament directors to get those LPGA Hall of Famers into their fields. The rule was put in place, said Tangtiphaiboontana, to protect title sponsors.
As the tour grew more international, former commissioner Mike Whan extended the rule to…