Surprise U.S. Women’s Open champ to join LPGA Tour in 2021

December 21, 2020

Kim A-lim, who shocked the golfing world by winning the oldest LPGA major championship earlier this month, will take her talent to America next year.

The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion announced on Monday that she will be joining the LPGA full-time starting in 2021. The 25-year-old had been playing on the Korea LPGA (KLPGA) Tour since 2016.

Kim became one of the tour’s best Cinderella stories of 2020 when she captured the U.S. Women’s Open in Houston on Dec. 14. She rallied from a five-stroke deficit to finish at three-under 281, holding off world No. 1 Ko Jin-young by one shot.

In this Associated Press file photo from Dec. 14, 2020, Kim A-lim of South Korea hoists the championship trophy after winning the U.S. Women's Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston. (Yonhap)
In this Associated Press file photo from Dec. 14, 2020, Kim A-lim of South Korea hoists the championship trophy after winning the U.S. Women's Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston. (Yonhap)
In this Getty Images file photo from Dec. 14, 2020, Kim A-lim of South Korea celebrates her birdie at the 18th hole during the final round of the U.S. Women's Open at Champions Golf Club's Cypress Creek Course in Houston. (Yonhap)

In this Associated Press file photo from Dec. 14, 2020, Kim A-lim of South Korea hoists the championship trophy after winning the U.S. Women’s Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston. (Yonhap)

Typically, any non-LPGA member who wins a tournament is eligible for full LPGA membership for the following season. But with the 2020 season having been cut from 33 tournaments to 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all full-time players who otherwise wouldn’t have qualified for next year’s membership will retain their status for another season. This also means Kim will enjoy her full-fledged membership through 2022.

Kim had until Monday to exercise her option.

“I’ve been dreaming of playing on the LPGA Tour for a long time,” said Kim, a two-time KLPGA winner. “I fell in love with such excellent training environments in the U.S. I decided this was an opportunity for me to compete and challenge myself in a better situation.”

Kim is one of two nonmembers to win an LPGA major this year, joined by the AIG Women’s Open champion Sophia Popov.

“The key will be making adjustments to new surroundings, and I think I will have plenty of support from people around me,” Kim said. “There will be so many changes. I’ll have to hire a new personal manager and a trainer, and set my offseason training schedule. My agency and I have a rough outline, and we’ll soon start making more concrete plans.”

A few KLPGA stars before Kim made the leap to the U.S. circuit by winning a tournament. The current world No. 1 Ko Jin-young won an LPGA tournament in October 2017, and then became a two-time major champion and the LPGA Player of the Year by 2019.

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