• World No.1 among 15 WPGA Tour winners at Olympics

The WPGA Tour of Australasia’s influence in women’s professional golf has been illustrated by 15 former winners qualifying to compete for Olympic gold in Paris in August.

Malaysia’s Ashley Lau and Colombia’s Mariajo Uribe both have victories on the current season of the WPGA Tour of Australasia and are among the former winners set to play for Olympic glory in the field of 60.

In addition to Australian representatives Hannah Green (2022 Webex Players Series Murray River, 2022 Vic Open) and Minjee Lee (2014, 2018), Kiwis Lydia Ko and Momoka Kobori, world No.1 Nelly Korda, England’s Georgia Hall, China’s Xiyu Lin, Amy Yang (Korea), Celine Boutier (France), Maja Stark (Sweden), Ashleigh Buhai (South Africa), Anne Van Dam (Netherlands), Manon De Roey (Belgium), Lau and Uribe have all won in Australia on their path to Paris.

Although yet to win on the WPGA Tour, Singaporean Shannon Tan bolstered her Olympic hopes with a runner-up finish at Webex Players Series Murray River in February and tie for eighth at the Vic Open.

After a difficult couple of years coming out of Covid, WPGA Tour of Australasia CEO, Karen Lunn, is thrilled with the role that the WPGA Tour has played in helping to realise the Olympic dream for so many players.

“It’s wonderful to see the influence that the WPGA Tour of Australasia has had in providing a pathway to the Olympics for so many players,” said Lunn.

“Not only do we have our Aussie representatives in Hannah and Minjee representing the green and gold, but players such as Ashley Lau, Momoka Kobori and Mariajo Uribe played their way into Olympic contention via the WPGA Tour of Australasia this past season.

“We have become a genuine pathway to the top echelon of the women’s game and we are working hard to see that influence grow even more in the years to come.”

Lau began her stint in Australia in January when she finished second at the Qualifying School at Coolangatta-Tweed Heads Golf Club.

It was the beginning of a dominant run as she finished tied for eighth at Webex Players Series Murray River, was runner-up at Webex Players Series Victoria and then won the Vic Open.

Even after her Vic Open victory, Lau could not have imagined that just months later she would qualify as Malaysia’s lone starter in the women’s golf competition.

“It (the Olympics) was definitely not on my radar,” Lau admitted back in March.

“After the win (at the Vic Open), a lot of people have been mentioning that to me. I told them not to tell me anything after that because I am the kind of person who doesn’t like to focus on rankings and stats.”

Uribe made no secret of her Olympic ambition during her three-week stint in Australia starting in late March.

“It takes courage to come here, because I am not even a member of this Tour,” Uribe said after her Women’s NSW Open win at Magenta Shores Golf and Country Club.

“To write the emails, try to get those invites, you might come here and not even make the cut, you don’t know what is going to happen.

“I am just trying to get some opportunities out there but I am pretty sure this will clutch it out and be in Paris for now.”

Uribe joins Kobori (2023) and Stark (2022) as the three most recent Women’s NSW Open winners who will tee it up in Paris.

Back-to-back Women’s Australian Open victories have been crucial in Buhai qualifying for a second Olympics while last week’s KPMG Women’s PGA champion, Amy Yang, can trace her career back to her time as a teenager on the Gold Coast and winning the ANZ Ladies Masters as a 16-year-old amateur in 2006.

WPGA winners to qualify for 2024 Olympics

Australia: Hannah Green (2022 Webex Players Series Murray River, 2022 Vic Open); Minjee Lee (2014, 2018 Vic Open)

New Zealand: Lydia Ko (2012 Women’s NSW Open, 2015 Women’s Australian Open, 2013, 2015, 2016 New Zealand Women’s Open); Momoka Kobori (2023 Women’s NSW Open)

South Africa: Ashleigh Buhai (2022, 2023 Women’s Australian Open)

United States of America: Nelly Korda (2019 Women’s Australian Open)

Korea: Amy Yang (2006 ANZ Ladies Masters)

England: Georgia Hall (2016 Vic Open)

Sweden: Maja Stark (2022 Women’s NSW Open)

Malaysia: Ashley Lau (2024 Vic Open)

Colombia: Mariajo Uribe (2024 Women’s NSW Open)

France: Celine Boutier (2018 Australian Women’s Classic)

Belgium: Manon de Roey (2020 Moss Vale Pro-Am)

Netherlands: Anne Van Dam (2019 Canberra Classic)

China: Xiyu Lin (2018 Ballarat Icons Pro-Am)

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