2019 looks set to be one of the most exciting years in women’s golf yet. After a dramatic 2018 season in which no fewer than three new Major champions were crowned, this year the competition has never been fiercer.
All eyes will be on Georgia Hall, who became the first English Major champion in 14 years after winning at the Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in August last year. Following her breakthrough year in 2017, the 22-year-old (23 on April 12th) from Bournemouth continued to go from strength to strength last year, culminating in her first title after beating Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum by two shots with a final round of 67. She also received the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit and the Ladies European Tour Player of the Year for the second consecutive year and will have the No.1 spot in her sights in 2019.
Ireland’s Leona Maguire will be looking to follow in Hall’s footsteps after finishing 18th on her professional debut on the Ladies European Tour at the Andalucia Costa Del Sol Open, Spain in November. The 24-year-old from Cavan, whose twin sister Lisa is also a pro, previously held the longest record of being the world No.1 amateur, making three Curtis Cup appearances, as well as competing in the 2016 Olympic Games.
Another one to watch is Japan’s Nasa Hataoka. The 20-year-old burst onto the scene three years ago, becoming the first amateur and youngest player to win a major Japan Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour event, coming from four strokes behind to clinch victory by one shot in the final round of the Japan Women’s Open Golf Championship. She followed that up with two more impressive victories on the LPGA Tour in 2018: the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in June and the Toto Japan Classic in November.
The Netherlands’ Anne Van Dam has also put a strong case for a Solheim Cup place, winning three Ladies European Tour titles in six months. She followed up wins at the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open in Barcelona in September and the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open with victory at the Canberra Women’s Classic last month (March).
Another English contender is Bronte Law. The 24-year-old from Stockport has good pedigree, winning the European Ladies Amateur Championship in 2016 and representing Great Britain and Ireland in the 2012, 2014 and 2016 Curtis Cups, becoming only the second player to achieve a perfect 5-0 record in the 2016 event.
Fellow countrywoman Charley Hull is another fast making a name for herself.
Her talent has been there from an early age, winning the UK National Ladies Championship at Turnberry aged nine and following that up with her first Ladies European Tour victory eight years later in the Lalla Meryem Cup in Agadir.
Opening 2019 with a nail-biting victory over Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord in the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi, she will be aiming to go one better and win a Major this year.
America’s Michelle Wie will also be seeking to build on her first victory in four years after winning the 2018 HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore. However, she faces an uphill task after surgery on a wrist injury which has ruled her out of a large part of this season.
Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn will also be looking to consolidate her position at that the top of the women’s rankings. Having won her second Major at the US Women’s Open in June last year after a dramatic playoff against South Korea’s Kim Hyo-joo, and scooped the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average as well as the Rolex Player of the Year Award, she will be looking to add to her collection in 2019.
Among the dark horses is 20-year-old American Nelly Korda. The latest in a long line of a sporting family, which includes her father, Australian Open tennis champion Petr Korda, and older sister Jessica, a five-time victor on the LPGA Tour, Nelly broke into the top 25 in her rookie season with her first LPGA Tour win in October and seven top 10 finishes.
China’s Ruixin Liu is another to watch out for. Topping the Symetra Tour money list with two victories and a runner-up and third place, big things are expected of this 20-year-old having been promoted to the LPGA Tour last year.
With everything to play for, 2019 promises to be a thriller in the women’s game.