[PHOTO: Gary Lisbon]

Two of Australian golf’s newest stars and a seven-time Major-winning Hall of Famer will feature in the 2023 WPGA Tour of Australasia season that begins next Monday.

On the back of her top-five finish at the Women’s Australian Open at Victoria Golf Club in December, Sydneysider Grace Kim has confirmed her place in the field for the Vic Open at 13th Beach Golf Links [pictured] from February 9.

Victory at the IOA Golf Classic in May was the foundation for Kim to earn her LPGA Tour card for 2023, finishing fifth on the secondary Epson Tour Order of Merit.

Joining Kim at 13th Beach will be Hall of Famer Karrie Webb while Webb, second-year LPGA Tour star Stephanie Kyriacou and Sarah Jane Smith will tee it up at TPS Victoria at Rosebud Country Club from January 26.

“Karrie has been a cornerstone of our tour for more than 20 years so we are thrilled that Aussie golf fans will once again get to see her play on home soil,” said WPGA Tour chief executive Karen Lunn.

“It is also extremely exciting to have Grace at the Vic Open and Steph and Sarah Jane both confirmed to play TPS Victoria to kick off this year’s Webex Players Series.

“Grace and Steph are just starting out on what I am sure will be wonderful careers and I’ve got no doubt they’d both like to start their years with good results on the WPGA Tour.”

The release of an 11-tournament schedule for the WPGA Tour is getting back towards pre-pandemic levels.

Four of the events are Webex Players Series tournaments at Rosebud, Cobram-Barooga, Bonnie Doon in Sydney and Cypress Lakes Resort in the Hunter Valley.

With a focus on equality for all, the Webex Players Series showcases the increased alignment between the PGA of Australia and the WPGA Tour, designed to provide playing opportunities for both men and women professionals who compete in the same field for the same prize purse and the same trophy and who are joined by outstanding juniors for the final two rounds.

It is all designed to provide the stars of tomorrow with the foundation to forge long and prosperous careers in the game.

Kyriacou was an amateur when she claimed the Australian Women’s Classic at Bonville Golf Resort in February 2020, providing the platform to take her game to the Ladies European Tour and then the LPGA Tour in 2022.

“It’s hard to imagine exactly where I’d be right now without that win at Bonville a couple of years ago,” said Kyriacou, currently ranked 96th in the world and a top-10 finisher at the Women’s Australian Open.

“Playing professional events as an amateur was crucial in my development and I’m sure we’ll see a few girls step up and make names for themselves during the season.

“It’s great to see so many events on the schedule for the girls to further advance their golf and I’m looking forward to returning to Rosebud to start my 2023 season.”

Fresh from obtaining her Ladies European Tour card at Qualifying School, West Australian Kirsten Rudgeley is expected to feature in a host of WPGA Tour events along with Sarah-Jane Smith, Karis Davidson and Cassie Porter.

The 2023 WPGA Tour of Australasia schedule will begin with a two-round qualifying tournament at Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club from Monday, January 16.

It will be followed by the second edition of the $50,000 Melbourne International at Latrobe Golf Club from January 20-22, the ideal lead-up to the first Webex Players Series event at Rosebud the next week.

There are four Webex Players Series events, the Vic Open, the Women’s NSW Open, Australian Women’s Classic and the return of WPGA Tour pro-ams to the schedule at Moss Vale, Wagga Wagga and Southport.

“It’s no secret that the past couple of years have been challenging but we’re now getting back to a schedule that provides our players with plenty of tournament-playing opportunities,” Lunn added.

“What we’re particularly excited by is the diversity of the tournaments our women will be part of. Fans will see them play alongside the men at the Vic Open and during the Webex Players Series and then stand-alone WPGA Tour events in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.”

The WPGA – founded originally as the LPGAA in 1972 – celebrated its 50th anniversary during the Australian Open in November.

The first women’s professional tournaments were staged in Australia in March 1973 and the name was changed to the ALPG Tour in 1991. It became the WPGA Tour of Australasia in 2021.

World stars to have won on the WPGA Tour of Australasia include Annika Sorenstam, Laura Davies, Yani Tseng, Jiyai Shin, Jessica and Nelly Korda along with our very own Major champions in Karrie Webb, Minjee Lee and Hannah Green.

2023 WPGA Tour schedule

January 16-17   Qualifying Tournament (Coolangatta & Tweed Heads GC)

January 20-22   Melbourne International (Latrobe GC) $50,000

January 26-29   TPS Victoria (Rosebud CC) $200,000

February 2-5     TPS Murray River (Cobram-Barooga GC) $200,000

February 9-12   Vic Open (13th Beach GL) $420,000

February 16-19 TPS Sydney (Bonnie Doon GC) $200,000

February 23-26 TPS Hunter Valley (Cypress Lakes Resort) $200,000

March 4-5         The Athena (TBC)

March 7            Moss Vale GC Pro-Am (Moss Vale GC) $20,000

March 9-10       Wagga Country Club Pro-Am (Wagga CC) $50,000

March 13          Southport GC Pro-Am (Southport GC) $20,000 (min.)

March 24-26     Women’s NSW Open (Tuncurry GC) $150,000

March 31-April 2           Australian Women’s Classic (Bonville Golf Resort) $150,000