NAPLES, Fla. — The LPGA Tour’s most recent first-time winner, after not immediately taking up membership, will become a tour member. The LPGA announced Friday that Mone Inami, who won the Toto Japan Classic on Nov. 5 as a non-member, would join the tour for the 2024 season.
“This membership, I earned on my own,” Inami told Japanese media in a press conference on Nov. 8. “After discussing it with my team, I knew that playing the U.S. Tour will be big for my future. The team agreed with me and said they would support me, so I decided to give it a try.”
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After her victory, Inami declined immediate membership to the LPGA, which would have granted her 500 CME points and entry into The Annika tournament, which was played the week after the Toto. Instead, the 13-time JLPGA winner declined and had until Dec. 4 to decide if she would take up full-time LPGA membership for next year. In now doing so, Inami will have a one-year exemption for her victory.
The LPGA said Inami will be eligible to compete in the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in January.
Had Inami, a silver medalist at the 2020 Olympics, not accepted her card, she would have been the third Japanese player since 2019 to decline LPGA membership after a victory. Both 2019 AIG Women’s Open winner Hinako Shibuno and 2019 Toto champion Ai Suzuki declined LPGA membership that season. Shibuno, now a tour member, earned her card by qualifying through Q-Series in 2021.
This article was originally published on golfdigest.com