The LPGA Drive On Championship is a monumental week for many athletes on the LPGA Tour. For starters, it’s the first full-field event on the LPGA Tour schedule, with 120 players set to compete. And while the veterans may view it as just another opportunity, some are seeing their dreams finally become a reality as they tee it up for the first time on the biggest stage in women’s golf. For many of the recent class of Epson Tour graduates, this week’s tournament marks their first official event as an LPGA Tour member.
Minji Kang is one of those athletes making her Tour debut after graduating from the LPGA’s Official Qualifying Tour in 2023. It’s also her first LPGA Tour start – ever. The 24-year-old finished fifth in the 2023 Race for the Card standings and was one of three athletes in the top 10 without a win. Despite not finding the winner’s circle, Kang recorded eight top-10 finishes last year with a season-best T2 result at the Hartford HealthCare Women’s Championship.
“It’s very exciting for me. I can’t believe I’m right here right now,” said Kang. “I’ve seen so many players that I’ve watched on TV, and it’s very amazing.”
“I did pretty good last year (on the Epson Tour). I have confidence, and I know that I can play well from several different courses throughout my experience on the Epson Tour,” she added. “Since this is my first week as a rookie, I’ll just go for it. It’s exciting and nervous in the same way, but I’ll just enjoy.”
Kang is also one of 10 athletes who will represent the LPGA’s Official Qualifying Tour as an Epson Tour Ambassador in 2024. After graduating from the Epson Tour in 2023, the Truett McConnell University alumna is receiving a sponsorship this season to help kickstart her LPGA Tour career, and in return, she will wear the Epson Tour logo on her sleeve throughout the season. Previous Epson Tour Ambassadors include players like Sweden’s Linnea Strom (2023) and Tennessee native Sophia Schubert (2022).