Surfer Stephanie Gilmore on record-breaking title: ‘Greatest performance in my entire career’

Stephanie Gilmore celebrates after winning her eighth surfing world title
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Last week, Australian surfer Stephanie Gilmore won her eighth world title, breaking her tie with Layne Beachley for most world titles won by a female surfer. 

Gilmore’s eighth world title looked very different than her first seven. Last year, the World Surf League (WSL) introduced a new championship format: a one-day surf-off featuring the top five surfers on the Championship Tour (CT). Gilmore — who won her previous seven titles under the old season-long points system — entered this year’s WSL Finals in San Clemente, California, as the fifth-ranked woman. That meant the 34-year-old had to compete in (and win) every round of the bracket in order to have a chance at the world title. Gilmore did just that, going on to defeat five-time world champ and 2021 Olympic gold medalist Carissa Moore 2-0 in the best-of-three final. 

After the competition, On Her Turf caught up with Gilmore about what this eighth world title means to her, whether she plans to continue competing through the 2024 Paris Olympics, and the future of women’s surfing. This Q&A has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity. 

On Her Turf: I’d love to start with your expectations entering the WSL Finals. As the fifth-ranked woman, you obviously had the longest ladder to climb in order to win the world title. What were your expectations and goals heading into the day?

Stephanie Gilmore: You know, it seemed impossible to imagine you could surf from fifth — beat all of the seeds ahead of you, all of the women that performed better than me throughout the whole season — and go all the way to the final. And then, to have to beat Carissa (Moore) twice in conditions that really favor all of us… Like, four-foot right-handers are really what Carissa excels at, and myself as well.

So I just wanted to keep believing. As cheesy as that sounds, it was just like, ‘Hey, this is a long shot, but a chances is a chance.’

I had this weird feeling if I could get through Brisa (Hennessy) and Tatiana (Weston-Webb), I could get enough momentum to keep rolling. I felt like, at that point, I could probably start getting into Johanne (Defay) and Carissa’s head. They’d see me catching some momentum and (it would) freak them out a bit.

And then, as the day went on, I was just like, ‘Oh, my goodness, this is actually happening. This is insane.’

Women's bracket for the 2022 WSL Finals, showing who Steph Gilmore had to beat in order to win the world title
2022 Rip Curl WSL Finals – Women’s Bracket (WSL)

I was just running off of adrenaline and excitement. Physically, I was ok. I was still able to surf. I just had to conserve my energy in different ways and try not to catch too many waves in a heat.

So yeah. My thoughts were just like, ‘Hey, this seems impossible.’ But if you just do the simple math, it’s not too bad. You can do it (win the world title) in five heats. That’s 10 counting waves. That’s just a three-and-a-half hour surf and you’re done.

On Her Turf: With the new WSL Finals format, what’s the balance of coming in as the fifth seed and getting all of those extra reps and momentum vs. the physical toll of competing in so many consecutive heats? What are the pros and cons?

Gilmore: Yeah, I was thinking about being in Carissa’s position and how I wouldn’t like to (wait around). I feel like it’s much harder to sit there and watch, to try to just visualize and adapt to the conditions without being able to physically go out there and feel the ocean and test the waves and test your equipment. Yes, we’ve already done all that in our practicing and our warm ups, but surfing is unique in that our field changes every 5, 10 minutes. The wind comes up, the tide changes, it’s just constantly moving… Surfing is very much a sport where you have to be in tune with Mother Nature, you have to be in tune with the elements.

I felt like I had such an advantage by the time I got to those later heats because I’d been in the ocean. Yes, each heat I went through was physically draining. But I just kind of kept finding the momentum where, because I’d been in the ocean, I knew what it was doing. I was in rhythm with the waves. And I was able to kind of use that to my advantage, whereas I could see that Joanne and Carissa, towards the back end, were a bit overwhelmed because they’d been sitting there watching it all day. They didn’t get the chance to go out there and feel it.

Rip Curl WSL Finals
SAN CLEMENTE, CALIFORNIA – Stephanie Gilmore of Australia competes in her first match of the day at the 2022 WSL Finals. (Photo by Pat Nolan/World Surf League via Getty Images)

On Her Turf: Right after you won, you and Carissa embraced out in the water. Can you share what you told her in that moment?

Gilmore: I saw Carissa and I just gave her a big hug. And I said to her that I believed that she was the true world champion this year. Having won all of my world titles in that fashion, where I’d accumulated the most points over the entire season… It seemed hard to imagine that Carissa wasn’t going to be the world champion this year. Like, she had such a great year… And I just said, ‘I admire you so much. And I’m so honored to be able to share the water with with you in the final here.’

Rip Curl WSL Finals
SAN CLEMENTE, CALIFORNIA – Carissa Moore and Stephanie Gilmore talk in the water after the title match at the 2022 WSL Finals. (Photo by Pat Nolan/World Surf League via Getty Images)

In saying that, now that I’ve had some time to really process what happened and how I had to just dig deep to be able to go through all of those incredible female athletes, and then to get through Carissa twice, at the very end of the season. It’s finally sunk in to me that that is truly what it takes to be a world champion… With this new format, it was almost like I was out to prove all that’s wrong with it, but all that’s right with it as well…

And I actually really appreciate this new format, because it does bring out the best in athletes. I would say this was my greatest performance in my entire career. And I wouldn’t have had that chance without this new format.

On Her Turf: Wow. That’s a big statement, especially given that it’s your eighth world title. That actually leads to something I wanted to ask you about: I was curious if you have specific memories of all eight world titles? Or have they started to blend together, especially given that you won the first six in such quick succession?

Gilmore: I would say the first one (2007) is very memorable because it was the first and it was my rookie year on tour. And I was just so hungry to get out there and be world champion, that was my dream. So that one was incredibly memorable.

And then I’d say world titles two, three and four (2008, 2009, 2010) kind of blend together. Like I’m probably actually a bit shady on what the last events were and who (I had to win) against.

I had an assault after my fourth world title and I was out for a few months with physical injury. It was just kind of a traumatic moment in my life. And so thinking about the fifth world title (2012), it was my most rewarding title for a long time because I had to overcome a traumatic experience and I had to really re-find that confidence that I used to have in the beginning of my career. That’s when questions of doubt started coming, like, ‘Can you do it?’ That was also the start of when Carissa came on tour and started blazing through everyone. So when I was able to really fight back and win the fifth world title, that one was like, ‘Okay, this is a pinnacle moment.’

The sixth (2014) was great, but yeah, it kind of blends in. And then the seventh (2018) to align with Layne Beachley for the record was a huge goal of mine.

But winning my eighth kind of blows them all out of the water.

On Her Turf: It always strikes me as really hard for athletes when they have sustained success when they are really young… And then when they aren’t as successful, it seems like some people struggle to separate that downturn in their sport with their own self worth. I’m curious if that’s a feeling you experienced and how you dealt with it?

Gilmore: Totally. That’s a great question because it’s like, from a young age, I was able to detach from my wins really easily. It was kind of like, ‘Great, I’m winning a lot. And this is awesome.’ But I always felt like there was more to do, there was more to achieve, that I needed to surf better.

You have to be cautious of not becoming these world title trophies. Because surfing is just something that you do, it’s not who you are. Yes, I live and breath surfing. But, I think as a competitive athlete, you kind of have to be able to detach from wins and losses the same. You have to restart and refresh and move onto the next challenge, the next event, the next year with a fresh mind and see how you can evolve in all the different areas.

It’s like, I just won my eighth title. But I’m already thinking about the performances that I had this year that I was really disappointed in… To not have a great performance in Hawaii, to not get a great result in Tahiti, like, I would love to win those events. And that’s already giving me so much inspiration to just keep going. That’s the cool thing about surfing: we have such different playing fields, and to be able to perform at peak level in all the different waves, that’s really cool.

So that’s kind of where my head is at.

On Her Turf: I’m glad you brought up Tahiti! That was obviously a historic event just for women to be back at Teahupo’o and competing again. What were your main takeaways? And looking ahead, what are you hoping to accomplish there?

Gilmore: Tahiti was really special. All of us women on tour, we just bonded a lot at that event. We knew we had to unify and support each other because we could feel that all of us were intimidated.

We were at this scary wave and we wanted to put on a great show, but all of us were like, ‘Oh, this is new territory, we’re not sure how we’re gonna perform.’ We didn’t want to embarrass ourselves and we wanted the sport to grow. So it was cool. Yes, we were competing against each other. But there was something about the camaraderie that was really special. Even though the waves, you know, in the end weren’t so great at the finish.

Also, to see the young girls, local girls from Tahiti that were so confident, like Vahine Fierro. I thought she was going to win the whole contest. I watched her in the pre-surfs and I just thought, ‘This is what is so cool about women’s surfing.’  We’re only just starting to see these young women who have been surfing in these remote locations. And they’re starting to become world class surfers and they’re leading the charge for us as well, you know?

But yeah, I didn’t get a great result there so I know I’ve got a lot of work to do. I think that’s also the general feeling from all the women. It was great and we all pushed each other. But we all know we’ve got a lot of work to do and room to improve in these conditions. I mean, a lot of us were already talking about planning a trip back there to learn the wave more.

On Her Turf: Are you hoping to compete there during the 2024 Paris Olympics? I guess “Paris” should maybe be in quotes given how far away the surfing venue in Tahiti is from the Olympic host city.

Gilmore: Yeah, that’d be really cool. It’d be strange, for sure, not being in Paris with the Opening Ceremony and all that other stuff. Having been to Tokyo for the Olympics, I know that that was the highlight for me: going to the Opening Ceremony and meeting all the other athletes. So Tahiti will be kind of different. But in saying that, I’m sure winning a medal, getting spat out of really big beautiful barrels in Tahiti, that would feel really good, too.

Stephanie Gilmore competes during the 2022 Outerknown Tahiti Pro in Teahupo’o, French Polynesia, on August 19, 2022. (Photo by JEROME BROUILLET/AFP via Getty Images)

On Her Turf: In terms of the growth of women’s surfing. I always say how thankful I am that I get to cover a variety of women’s sports because it is so interesting to compare and contrast between what different women’s leagues and sports are trying. And surfing is clearly doing a lot right in terms of gender equality, from the equal prize money to the side-by-side WSL Championship Tours this year. But gender equality is also the type of thing where the work might never be done. I’m curious what you think is the next step in that evolution?

Gilmore: Yeah, it isn’t ever done, progression is an ongoing thing.

I’m just so proud of the women in surfing. These positive changes that have happened, that is from the hard work and perseverance of the women before us, which started in the 70s, 80s, the 90s… That was a tough period for women in surfing.

It’s so incredible to see the young women now. The WSL does a ‘Rising Tides’ event. And pretty much in every country we’ve been to… In El Salvador, we had 40 young women that came down and they were great surfers. In Brazil there were like 50 young girls. And then here in California, we had 30 young girls who all surfed incredibly well.

It just restored my faith in the fact that, even though we may not specifically be on this mission to progress the sport of women’s surfing, we’re doing it through our actions, through our own personal goals, and our own personal missions. So the progression is happening and it’s really cool.

On Her Turf: Related to that… I was curious if there were any up-and-coming surfers you really enjoyed getting to know this year? Athletes who maybe didn’t have a huge breakthrough or win, but that you just enjoyed watching surf?

Gilmore: Yeah, I really enjoyed watching Bettylou Sakura Johnson. She’s from Hawaii and she’s sponsored by Roxy, too. So we spent a bit of time together and she’s a phenomenal young surfer.

Also Gabriela Bryan. She had the best year of all the rookies, made the cut, and had some awesome performances throughout the year.

I really liked Luana Silva, too. She and Bettylou were best friends on tour. I loved watching them learn. Like, they didn’t make the cut and it was a really emotional moment for them. It was kind of like watching their dreams crash. But at the same time, I just wanted to say them, ‘Hey, it’s a long, long career ahead of you. And these are the moments that that make you stronger.’ So it was cool to kind of be able to step in and be a big sister in that in that moment. But it’s hard because I also can’t give them too much information because they’ll be out here smashing all of us pretty soon (laughs).

On Her Turf: Final question, and this might be silly but, how did you decide on jersey #88? And do you switch to #99 as you now pursue your ninth surfing world title?

Gilmore: I was born in 1988. So that’s a pretty easy one. And I just liked the number eight. It looks beautiful, it’s infinite. Yeah, it’s a it’s a really nice number and so I just kind of stuck with it. And I’m sure I’ll stick with it for a while. Lucky 88.

On Her Turf: There you go! No. 88 has her eighth world title!

Gilmore: On the eighth of September, too!

2022 Rip Curl WSL Finals Lower Trestles
SAN CLEMENTE, CALIFORNIA – Stephanie Gilmore celebrates winning the 2022 WSL world title, setting a new record for most world titles won by a female surfer. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

Li Li Leung talks USA Gymnastics’ cultural transformation, challenges still to come and embracing her AAPI heritage

Head of USA Gymnastics Li Li Leung.
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Li Li Leung joined USA Gymnastics as president and CEO in March 2019, when the organization was reeling from the fallout of Larry Nassar’s widespread sexual abuse and the subsequent revelations of larger cultural issues within the sport. Since then, Leung has seen USAG through an ongoing transformation, one that hinges on the work of the survivors and staff around her, whom she is quick to credit. That evolution, as she calls it, has included instituting new norms and standards at all levels of the sport, particularly in matters related to athlete safety.

Among the notable USAG initiatives that Leung has brought to fruition is the Athlete Bill of Rights, established in December 2020 as a tool “to unite the full gymnastics community around a shared vision of behavioral expectations.” At the same time, USAG instituted a protest policy for national team members aimed at supporting athletes who choose to use their voice on public platforms. Both initiatives were among the first of their kind in sport.

Prior to joining USAG, Leung served as a vice president at the National Basketball Association (NBA), where she was responsible for building and managing key partner relationships around the world. She continues to use that experience in her roles as vice chair of the National Governing Bodies Council of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and a member of the International Gymnastics Federation’s Executive Committee.

Leung, who began competing in gymnastics at age 7, was a member of the U.S. junior national training team and represented the U.S. at the 1988 Junior Pan American Games. She was a four-year member of the four-time Big 10 champion University of Michigan gymnastics team and was an NCAA Championships participant.

In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, On Her Turf sat down with Leung to talk about her journey with USAG, the challenges still to come and how being a member of the AAPI community has shaped the person she is today.

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This Q+A has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

On Her Turf: Let’s start by talking about your journey since joining USA Gymnastics in 2019. What have the last four years been like for you?

Li Li Leung: This was just an incredible opportunity to give back to the sport that has given so much to me. And I really mean that because I started in the sport when I was 7 years old and did it for 15 years. It’s taught me all of these different skills that I apply to my daily life, both professional and personal. It feels a little bit like I’ve come full circle, and honestly, never in a million years did I think I would find myself in this role. … I joined at a time when it was a tumultuous time for the organization. It’s been just a little a little over four years now, and it has been an incredible journey — and believe it or not, I have enjoyed it. While it hasn’t been easy, I actually have enjoyed it, because I’ve been able to make it not just me. One thing that’s important to note is that — I had even said on my first interview with the board — it will take a village to accomplish what we need to accomplish. This is not a one-person job. And I was lucky enough to be able to bring on a leadership team that has been incredible, and also retain the staff that we have retained, as well as hire other new staff members. And it’s because of them and some really key volunteers that we’ve been able to accomplish what we’ve been able to do.

OHT: Can you talk a little more about this cultural transformation that the organization has experienced and your approach to tackling this all-encompassing change?

Leung: When I was interviewing for the position, I actually met every single board member. It was really critical to both sides that they felt that I matched the role and their needs and also I had to be confident in the board believing in the ultimate mission of the organization and what we wanted to achieve. So that the culture really does stem from the well – from the top down and everything in between as well. And when I was looking for leadership team, … one of the characteristics I was really looking for was they couldn’t have an ego. The job couldn’t be about themselves or about what they would personally get out of the role. It had to be about them believing in the bigger picture and believing in what we collectively wanted to achieve. I knew that we would only be able to accomplish what we need to accomplish if people were willing to roll up their sleeves and just do whatever needed to be done, so that was one of the key things in terms of having no ego.

Since 2018, we’ve turned over more than 70 percent of our staff. We’ve been able to retain the really key members of our staff, who have been critical to our success, but also have been able to really bring in new thinking, new blood, new perspectives. Because the other thing I was looking for when I was hiring for the leadership team was diversity in perspectives. That was critical because I did not want to be surrounded by “yes people.” I wanted to be surrounded by people who would be willing to have really robust conversations and engage in difficult conversations, because ultimately, you end up in a better place because of that.

In 2020, we reset our mission to be about building a community and culture of health, safety and excellence, with athletes who thrive in sport and in life. So we were no longer about developing technically superior gymnasts who perform well in gym. We reset our focus to be about helping set our athletes up for success with the skill sets that you learn in gymnastics, and when we come to the office each day, that’s what we’re thinking about. …

The other piece is we also know from a community standpoint that our national team coaches are the most visible representation (of USAG), and a lot of coaches model them. So we’ve been working really hard in terms of working on educating our national team coaches. We work with Positive Coaching Alliance to do educational training with them as well. And we also have introduced training specifically for young coaches coming in, because we know when they come in and they’re new, that they’re eager to learn, and that’s when you can start training and moving them in a way. So our thinking is with this top-down and bottom-up strategy, eventually the middle will meet.

OHT: You noted how the coaches can be some of the most visible representatives of USAG. Regarding the addition of 2008 Olympic silver medalists Chellsie Memmel (USAG technical lead) and Alicia Sacramone Quinn (USAG strategic lead), how have those women impacted the program?

Leung: The addition of Chellsie and Alicia has been fantastic. They have been phenomenal to work with, and the fact that they have firsthand experience of having gone through it themselves – that also gives them a very good idea of what they would change and what they wouldn’t change, at the same time. It has been a phenomenal addition to be able to have this perspective of firsthand, high-level, high-performing athletes to be able to lead our high-performance team. And the athletes are saying it as well. They’re saying, “We trust them; we feel confident in their decisions; we can relate to them” — all of those things that historically haven’t really happened before.

Then in terms of the athletes who are going to college and coming back to compete with USA Gymnastics – there are so many aspects that I think are great about this. One: It’s showing a lengthened career in a sport that historically has not been very long because it’s so demanding on the body. So that means that our athletes are physically healthier, as well, that they can train and compete at a high level for a longer period of time. It also means that they’re enjoying it more because they’re staying in the sport. From an emotional standpoint, they’re finding a lot more joy in the sport, and they’re talking about it, too. And we love the fact that they’re talking about it. We want them to talk about it, and we want them to have voices and feel open and free about sharing what they’re thinking about. I have to say I’ve been really enjoying seeing almost like — I’m not sure if I can go as far as a new era in the sport maybe — but just this evolution of the sport and the athletes changing in front of my eyes.

OHT: What do you consider now to still be the biggest challenge or obstacle for USAG?

Leung: There are a couple of big initiatives on the list. One is we want to build a training and wellness center where all of our disciplines will train under one roof. This is a long-term project, obviously, but my vision around it is that it will be the heart and hub of gymnastics in America. And while this is where national team athletes will ultimately train to some extent, it is going to be a welcoming place for athletes of all different disciplines and all different levels. We want it to be a place where young athletes can come through and see their role models training. We want this to be a place of education for our community and judges. We want to be able to run clinics there for all different levels. We just want this to be a gathering place of gymnastics and to be able to celebrate the sport there at the same time.

We’re also going to reset our foundation. There’s been the National Gymnastics Foundation, but we are going to reset it and basically be much more proactive on fundraising and development to grow the sport and also to raise more money for athletes in their training.

OHT: Turning to AAPI Heritage Month and being named to the 2023 Gold House A100 List (the A100 is named each May honoring 100 Asian Pacific leaders who made the greatest impact on culture and society over the past year). What did that honor mean to you?

Leung: It was such an incredible honor to be recognized by them, and my fellow honorees — when I read the list, I thought to myself, “I don’t belong.” There are some incredible names on that list. But again, I go back to what I said earlier: I owe this honor to a lot of the other people who work [at USAG]. I think the really important thing to recognize is that this was not done by just me. It was done by a lot of other people who are on staff and who aren’t getting the accolades or the recognition. But it was an incredible experience to be, and I’m very, very touched and honored to be on that list.

OHT: How do you identify within the Asian American Pacific Islander community? Did you embrace your heritage growing up and how has that shaped who you are today?

Leung: So I’ll tell you a story that I’ve mentioned to other people recently. I grew up in a town called Ridgewood in Bergen County, New Jersey, and most of my friends had blond hair and blue eyes. When I was growing up, I wanted the name “Nancy Smith,” and I wanted blue eyes. I wanted to fit in. As a kid, you always want to fit in. Then when you get older and wizen up a little bit, you realize that it’s okay and it’s good to be different, that you can use that to your advantage. And so upon growing up, I realized that it’s pretty special to be Asian American and there are benefits to being Asian American, and you should embrace the fact that you are different. In fact, I recently lectured to a women-in-sports-business class, and one of the questions they asked me was about impostor syndrome. I said the same thing that I’m saying to you now, which is absolutely embrace who you are. Absolutely embrace your differences, because those ultimately are embedded advantages to who you are and make you stand out from the rest of the crowd. So that’s my philosophy now.

OHT: Do you or your family have any traditions that are especially important to you?

Leung: I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a tradition, but in the Chinese culture, food is really important. Food is what brings people together. It’s a sign of respect, and that is the ultimate unifying language in a way. So when we do get together as a family, it’s really important for us to get together around a meal, because that’s when we share our stories. That’s when we connect with one another.

OHT: You might have just answered my next question, but I want to ask: What brings you joy about your heritage and culture?

Leung: It’s funny, I was actually at a conference last week and you were supposed to find someone you didn’t know in the conference and share a secret talent that you have. I shared that I can eat a lot more than most people think. Food is a really important part of our culture and in my upbringing and family.

OHT: Lastly, I wanted to ask, as we’ve seen an increase in hate-filled actions toward the AAPI community, what does supporting the AAPI community look like for you?

Leung: Well, I think kind of going back to my other answer, it’s just about embracing who you are and embracing your differences. I think part of it is being unafraid of it at the same time, which I know is really difficult. But if you’re going to truly embrace it, and then you can’t be afraid about embracing it at the same time.

MORE FROM ON HER TURF: Laureus award winner and three-time Olympic medalist Eileen Gu on Stanford, elevating women and changing the game

2023 Mizuho Americas Open: How to watch, who’s playing in inaugural LPGA event at Liberty National GC

Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand tees off on the eleventh hole during Day One of the HSBC Women's World Championship.
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The Statue of Liberty is the backdrop for this week’s inaugural Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. The tournament boasts a theme of mentorship and education, and includes a girls’ 72-hole, modified Stableford tournament featuring 24 juniors to go along with the 72-hole stroke-play event for 120 LPGA professionals.

The field is led by seven of the top 10 players on the Rolex Rankings including world No. 1 Jin Young Ko, No. 3 Lydia Ko, No. 4 Lilia Vu and No. 5 Minjee Lee. Also teeing it up this week are the finalists from Sunday’s Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play, where Thailand’s Pajaree Anannarukarn captured her second LPGA title with a 3-and-1 victory over Japan’s Ayaka Furue.

Michelle Wie West is serving as the tournament host, and she’ll be on hand to welcome fellow Stanford alum Rose Zhang, who’s fresh off her second straight NCAA individual title and turned professional just last week. Zhang will have her first go at an LPGA prize purse, which tops out at $2.75 million this week with the winner taking home $412,500.

How to watch the 2023 Mizuho Americas Open

You can watch the 2023 Mizuho Americas Open on Golf Channel, Peacock, and the NBC Sports app. Check out the complete TV and streaming schedule:

  • Thursday, June 1: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
  • Friday, June 2: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
  • Saturday, June 3: 5-8 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
  • Sunday, June 4: 4:30-5 p.m. ET (streaming only on Peacock); 5-7:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: Wake Forest captures team title at 2023 NCAA DI women’s golf championships, Stanford’s Rose Zhang wins individual crown

Who’s playing in the 2023 Mizuho Americas Open?

The 120-player field features seven of the top 10 players (and 16 of the top 25 player) on the Rolex Rankings:

  • No. 1 Jin Young Ko
  • No. 3 Lydia Ko
  • No. 4 Lilia Vu
  • No. 5 Minjee Lee
  • No. 6 Atthaya Thitikul
  • No. 8 Brooke Henderson
  • No. 9 Georgia Hall

Also in the field are 2023 winners Celine Boutier (LPGA Drive On Championship), Ruoning Yin (DIO Implant LA Open) and Grace Kim (LOTTE Championship), plus several sponsor exemptions including reigning NCAA individual champion Rose Zhang and her Stanford teammate Megha Ganne. Ganne, a native of Holmdel, N.J., finished T-21 at the recent NCAAs and is playing as an amateur. Joining them as an exemption is fellow Cardinal Mariah Stackhouse, who has conditional status on tour in 2023. Monday qualifiers include tour rookie Alexa Pano and Australia’s Sarah Jane Smith.

Among the notable juniors expected to play are 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur winner Anna Davis, 2022 U.S. Girls’ Junior winner Yana Wilson and 2022 U.S. Junior Girls’ runnerup Gianna Clemente. The 24 junior players were invited through their standings in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.

What’s the format for the Mizuho Americas Open?

The professionals will play a 72-hole stroke-play competition, with a cut to the top 50 and ties after 36 holes. The 24 juniors will play a 72-hole, no-cut competition using the modified Stableford scoring format and a different yardage than the pros.

During the first two rounds, the AJGA players will all be paired together. During the final two rounds, one junior player will play with two LPGA pros with groupings based on scores. This unique format marks the first time the AJGA and LPGA have partnered to showcase junior and professional competitors playing together.

Stableford scoring refresher: “Stableford” is a scoring system that awards points for the number of strokes taken on each hole in relation to par, rather than simply counting strokes like in stroke play. Unlike in stroke play, where players want the lowest score, the goal in Stableford scoring is to have the highest score. Standard Stableford points values are:

  • 0 Points – Double bogey or worse (two strokes or more over par)
  • 1 Point – Bogey (one stroke over par)
  • 2 Points – Par
  • 3 Points – Birdie (one stroke under par)
  • 4 Points – Eagle (two strokes under par)
  • 5 Points – Albatross or double eagle (three strokes under par)
  • 6 Points – Condor (four strokes under par)

More about Liberty National Golf Club

Located on the shore of the Upper Bay of New York Harbor, Liberty National Golf Club was designed by Bob Cupp and Tom Kite and officially opened on July 4, 2006. After the course received mixed reviews following the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust in 2009, the course underwent a renovation led by Steve Wenzloff of PGA Tour Design Services. Of note, the course hosted an event during the PGA Tour Playoffs four times (2009, 2013, 2019 and 2021) as well as the 2017 Presidents Cup, where the U.S. defeated the Internationals 19-11 for the Americans’ seventh consecutive victory in the competition and its 10th straight win overall. For this week’s event, the course will play to a par of 72 with an unofficial scorecard yardage of 6,671 yards.

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