Many viewed golfer Allisen Corpuz’s victory at the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open as a surprise for a 25-year-old who’d never won on the LPGA Tour.
Some saw her performance as kismet, given the native of Hawaii prevailed during the final competitive event for the archipelago’s favorite daughter, Michelle Wie West.
The American game’s next rising star, 20-year-old Rose Zhang, believed Corpuz’s steely 3-shot win was inevitable, having watched her perform while teammates on the U.S. team during 2021 Curtis Cup.
“Her personality is so calm, cool, collected,” Zhang said Wednesday. “It’s in her DNA.”
More than anything, Corpuz believes her maiden victory on her sport’s biggest stage is a beginning.
When she tees it up at Lake Nona Golf Club Thursday to begin the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, Corpuz will aim to build on a breakout season. She is among 36 LPGA champions from the past two seasons vying for a $1.5 million purse during a 72-hole stroke-play event alongside more than 50 celebrities from the worlds of music, entertainment and sports competing for $500,000 using a modified Stableford format.
“Every year is just kind of the start of something new and trying to keep the good things good and improve on the things that need work,” Corpuz told the Orlando Sentinel. “Last year was great, and I’m hoping that this year can be even better.”
Corpuz knows it will be difficult to duplicate her performance down the stretch at the U.S. Women’s Open. She began the final round a stroke back but seized control with back-nine birdies on the 10th, 14th and 15th holes to become the first woman to win a major championship at storied Pebble Beach Golf Links.
“It still kind of feels like an out-of-body experience,” Corpuz said. “It’s one of those things where I hope it happens again. In any given round you have a lot of moments; you hit some really good shots.
“It just felt like pretty much every single shot on that final round was good.”
Corpuz’s coronation and an LPGA record $2 million payday culminated two decades of dedication to a game she took up at age 4 while growing up on Oahu alongside the seventh hole on Kapolei Golf Course.
“I’ve just always been around the game,” she said.
Corpuz’s victory also validated the struggle common in her sport.
The low point was a two-week period at USC when she pondered giving up the game. Instead, she soldiered on and ultimately capitalized on the NCAA COVID waiver to return for a fifth season, earning All-American honors.
Corpuz even finished her master’s degree in global supply chain management. After nearly quitting the sport, she was right on time and could not be stopped en route to a career-changing win.
The world’s 11th-ranked player will push to stay on course in 2024.
Edgar Thompson can be reached at email@example.com.