Q+A: Paula Moltzan talks first World Cup podium, being Mikaela Shiffrin’s teammate and unconventional path to the U.S. Ski Team


The spotlight is shining bright on Mikaela Shiffrin and her record-breaking 83rd World Cup win, but the attention has only bolstered the women of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team, who are also grabbing headlines with a slew of notable results. That includes 28-year-old Paula Moltzan, who was right next to Shiffrin on the podium Dec. 29 in Semmering, Austria, where she finished second in the slalom for her first-ever World Cup podium.

The one-two finish marked the first time two American women shared a World Cup slalom podium since sisters Marilyn and Barbara Ann Cochran finished first and second, respectively, in February 1971. Ending a 52-year drought and notching her career-best World Cup result next to her GOAT-chasing teammate was particularly satisfying for Moltzan, who has been enjoying a breakout season in what marks her second stint with the U.S. Ski Team.

The Minnesota native first joined the team as a 17-year-old, a star racer out of the famed Buck Hill program. But after five years on the development team, Moltzan was dealt a blow when she wasn’t asked back to the team for the 2016-17 season. Not ready to quit ski racing, she enrolled at the University of Vermont and embarked on a collegiate career, winning the NCAA individual slalom title as a 22-year-old freshman in 2017 and earning three first-team All-American honors.

Moltzan rejoined the U.S. team full-time after three years at UVM, and the World Cup results soon soon followed. She’s notched 16 top-10 finishes since the 2020 World Cup season, with seven of them coming this season alone. She made her Olympics debut last February in Beijing, where she finished was eighth in the slalom, 12th in the giant slalom and fourth in the team event.

Ahead of the busiest competition week of the year — featuring two GS races in Krontplatz (Italy) on Tuesday (Moltzan DNF’d on her second run) and Wednesday, and two slalom races in Spindleruv Mlyn (Czech Republic) on Saturday and Sunday — Moltzan sat down with On Her Turf to talk about her breakthrough performance, what it’s like to be Shiffrin’s teammate and navigating that life-changing detour.

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

On Her Turf: It’s already been a special season and you’re still right in the middle of it, but could you share some overall thoughts about what’s going so well for you this season?

Paula Moltzan: Yeah, I’m having a great season, and that’s been the question: What’s making that happen this year? There hasn’t been much change, except for that I got married in September (to longtime boyfriend Ryan Mooney), so I guess that’s one big change that happened. Obviously, that doesn’t much change the role my now husband has — he’s still in charge of all my equipment and still traveling on the road with me. I don’t know if there have been any big mindset or physical changes, I just think I found my groove a bit earlier than this year than I have in past seasons. And that’s been nice to kind of find the right step in each race and make progress each race series.

OHT: Yes, congratulations are in order! After getting married in September, perhaps the relationship didn’t physically change on the outside, but life can feel a little different once you’re married. What have you found it to be like?

Moltzan: I love being married. Ryan and I have been together for 10 years, so I don’t think much has changed on the relationship side. But I think when you promise your life to someone forever, it’s definitely a big step in your life and it’s something I always knew I wanted to do with mine. And so that it’s finally done — I’m very happy.

OHT: Your skiing career actually spans more than a decade and through two stints with the U.S. Ski Team. You’ve practically had two completely different sets of teammates and coaches. What was the atmosphere and culture like then compared to what it’s like now, and what’s the team evolution been like during your career?

Moltzan: Oh, that is a loaded question. There are tons of answers, right? First and foremost, I’ll put it in terms of myself. I was 18 then [when first joined the team], I’m 28 now. So just as a person and as an athlete, I’ve grown up so much. I’ve learned so much about myself. There’s a lot of self-discovery in sport. But I think, having gone through some challenging times, I’ve grown up and learned to take a lot of responsibility for good and bad. And I think that’s probably the biggest difference in myself from 2012 to 2023.

But besides that, there are some big differences. When I was first on the team, I was a part of a really big development group, and it was super fun. There was really good energy all the time, but maybe there was slightly less focus, right when you’re 18. It’s like this whole new world you walk into. Now this season, we kind of combined the World Cup team and the Europa Cup team, and so my team got really big again. So that’s been a fun and new thing this year. …

I would say a lot of my success can be attributed to two people: one of them is my husband, and the second is my coaching staff. When I was on the development team from 2012 to 2016, I maybe didn’t have as much talent or as much drive to be the best and my staff wasn’t as supportive as it is now. But now with my new coach (U.S. team head coach) Magnus Andersson, he one thousand percent believes in me every single day. He wants me to get better, he is helping me get better, and he knows there’s going to be small setbacks. But that podium I got this year in slalom was kind of one for everybody on my team.

OHT: Let’s talk about that podium! That was a special day. It was your first-ever podium in a slalom World Cup, and the first time since 1971 that U.S. athletes went one-two in a World Cup slalom race. What was that day like for you?

Moltzan: I would say that my slalom has been building for a couple years now, and a lot more so this season. I had a lot of speed going into Levi (Finland, the first World Cup slalom of the season), and it just didn’t pan out for me. I had some really good sections. And same in Killington (Vermont) — I had good sections but just was struggling to find the finish line.

So, going into Semmering, I was just like, “I just need to make it happen. My skiing is so good. If I can just do exactly what I do in training on race day, then it’s all going to be fine.” And so that was my plan going into the race. My parents were there, and so I always feel like there’s a little extra pressure to perform in front of your parents, just because they traveled so far to watch you. But (on race day), I woke up in a really good mindset. I don’t know what it was or what it wasn’t.

After the first run, when I was sitting on the podium, I was like, “Oh my gosh! I’ve watched so many girls miss this opportunity — back off it, just find the finish line. And personally, I was not looking for another top five. I wanted to win, but I also just wanted to be on the podium. And so, pushing out the stargate on the second run, I was able just to find a different mentality and kind of tell myself that normal was good enough. And at last, when you cross the finish line and it is good enough, it’s definitely a pretty reassuring feeling to know that what you can perform on any given day is good enough to compete with the best — obviously my own teammate, Mikaela Shiffrin.

OHT: That was a viral moment — the pictures and video of you two celebrating in the finish area. What did that feel like?

Moltzan: That was pretty crazy. Mikaela and I are 11 months apart age, so I’ve skied with her my entire life. It was a pretty surreal moment. The past couple seasons, we’ve been becoming closer and closer as teammates and as friends, and so I think to share my first podium with her was unbelievable, but also that she’s shown a lot of support for me. Since Christmas, we’ve done some training together and she’s really believed in me — and I believed in me. And so, it was just extra special. That moment was definitely something that’s been in my head like on replay.

OHT: What is that like to have her as a teammate and to have that energy around you? It seems like the women on your team are thriving because of it, and not despite it. Is that correct?

Moltzan: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s definitely visible, right? There’s been a big flip, in the team sense, on the tech team. That’s been building for the last couple years, and I think it stems from a lot of different things. I do agree when other people are skiing well, it elevates your team. And so, although we don’t train with Mikaela a ton because she’s busy competing in four events and training for four events, when we do get the opportunity, the whole level of training goes up.

Her and I go back and forth winning runs in training, and so it’s just those small boosts of confidence be like, “Oh, she’s not unbeatable.” It’s always a nice feeling, and I think it’s good for my younger teammates as well to build off it. They’re like, “Oh, Paula is fast. But she’s also the same speed as Mikaela, so maybe it’s not so bad to be behind her.”

OHT: Looking back to when you were first on the U.S. team, Lindsey Vonn would have been on the team. Was there any overlap or anything that you’ve learned from her during that time?

Moltzan: In my era when Lindsey was on the team… I was only skiing slalom, so I didn’t really have a lot of crossover, but obviously it was pretty inspiring to watch her continuously break records. I would say Lindsey’s turned into a friend and mentor. She’s constantly reaching out and congratulating me, which is a really nice feeling to have. Yeah, to have two international superstars on your side and supporting you — that will always pretty special as a female athlete being supported by other female athletes.

OHT: Let’s rewind a bit. You’ve had a bit of an unconventional path in your ski team journey. Going back to when you lost your spot on the team and had to decide whether to continue competing, what went into your decision to pursue a collegiate career?

Moltzan: I wish I could own that decision and say it was all mine. But I wasn’t asked back to the team. So when you aren’t asked back, essentially you’re uninvited — you’re uninvited to this party that you’ve been invited to for the last couple of years. It was definitely a really like dark-slash-scary time in my life. I had only ski raced for the last five years, and so I wasn’t really sure what the right path was. But I knew I wasn’t done skiing.

Once I got the call that I wasn’t going back to the U.S. Ski Team, I reached out to college coaches, and specifically, I reached out to Bill Reichelt at UVM. [University of Vermont]. And basically, he was like, “This is amazing. Yes, we want you on our team. Let’s make it happen.” And I think within a week, I was enrolled, had housing, and was going to UVM.”

OHT: You probably never even thought you were going to have a collegiate experience.

Moltzan: I guess it was something that hadn’t ever really crossed my mind when I was a younger athlete. But honestly, I’m extremely thankful for the opportunities that my college coaches and my college career gave me. Do I think it’s the most optimal or easiest path for anybody to take? Absolutely not. But I’m happy it was a part of my story because I think it helped me grow up as an athlete and as a person. I definitely think I’m a better person for going to school than I was before. … As a freshman, winning the NCAAs was an all-time high in my life. I think those two moments — my World Cup podium and winning NCAAs — rival each other.

OHT: As the daughter of ski instructors and the youngest of three, growing up skiing at the famed Buck Hill in Minnesota… Did you love skiing as a little kid? Did you have a choice?

Moltzan: Yes and yes to both those questions. Since I was super young, I loved sports. I think I was constantly just trying to keep up with my two older siblings – it didn’t matter the sport or the event. I just wanted to be better than them. I didn’t really have a choice of getting on skis or not. It was just a family thing. My parents would instruct at the local mountain on weeknights and sometimes weekends, and it just was a natural evolution from ski lessons. …I think by age 6 or 7 I could have told you I wanted to be a professional ski racer.

OHT: I read a tidbit that you were in Park City, Utah, where you won a NASTAR race, and that solidified your racing aspirations. What actually happened?

Moltzan: I was 6 or 7, and I’d qualified for NASTAR nationals with my sister and brother. I think I won my age group and my ability level, and I got to meet [former U.S. Ski Team athlete] Kristina Kosnick and I was blown away. I was like, “Oh my god, this is what I want to do.” It was kind of like a drug. I couldn’t stop. And so that really did kind of solidify that I wanted to be a ski racer. Then when I was like 10 or 11, I joined the Buck Hill ski racing team and won all the regionals and I thought, ‘So I’m actually okay at this.” It kind of just spiraled out of control from there.

OHT: You now call Massachusetts home. How did the transition to the East Coast come about?

Moltzan: When I wasn’t asked back to the team, I didn’t really want to be in Minnesota. I was pretty disappointed in myself, and I didn’t really want to be that close to my parents because I felt so bad. I felt like I kind of failed them. So I moved in with Ryan and his parents in Massachusetts for the summer before going to college. For those three years [while at UVM], we’d spend our summers in Massachusetts, because that’s where he is from, and his family has their whitewater rafting business there, and now [it’s home].

OHT: You just said something interesting: that you felt disappointment and also the idea that you disappointed your parents. I feel pretty confident in guessing they told you that is not true, but that can be hard to accept when that’s how you feel. How did you overcome that?

Moltzan: My parents always told me that they have no expectations in my career. They’re just proud of me every step of the way. But I do think you carry a lot of pressure on yourself, that you feel that your family and friends and coaches are putting on you. And that when you do fail, you do feel like it’s a group failure, and you’re letting these people down who have put so much effort and work into your life. And it’s been a constant struggle. Careers go through ups and downs, but those downs can be really hard because you feel like you’re not just letting down yourself, but you’re also letting down your whole team. And to get over it, you just have to stay strong and reconvince yourself that that’s not the case – that they are only there supporting you because they love and believe in you. It took a while, but I definitely got back to a space where I knew my parents never felt that way. But also, I got back to where I felt they were proud of me again.

OHT: Some quick hitters as we wrap. … Are you a goal setter? Are you someone who writes it down and posts it on the wall?

Moltzan: No, definitely not. That’s not really my style. We are required to do goal setting by the U.S. Ski Team, but mine have never been based around results. It’s always technical, tactical, how you approach a day, how you approach the season. And that’s still my mentality. Yes, having achieved a podium is something I think I dreamed about as a kid, but I never was like, “This is going to be the season that happens.”

OHT: What’s your favorite World Cup stop?

Moltzan: Come on! Killington. We love Killington. It’s like my home away from home. I’m not a true Vermonter, but they sure treat me like I am one there, and it’s so special.”

OHT: What do you love about ski racing?

Moltzan: I like the competitiveness. I have been a competitor my whole life. Like I said, all I wanted to do is be better than my siblings when I was younger. And I think that’s still what drives me – that I just want to keep getting better. I’m not ever happy with where I’m at. I’m never complacent, and the views don’t hurt either.

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.

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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, NBCSports.com 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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