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09 Apr 2019

Sisters Shining on LPGA

 

Sisters have been a fixture in the women’s game from the very beginning. Even with the creation of the LPGA Tour in 1950, sisters Marlene and Alice Bauer were two of the original 13 founding members. Marlene won 26 times, but Alice was without a victory. Since their early days on Tour, eight more siblings have competed side-by-side on the biggest stage in the women’s game. Donna Caponi and her sister Janet both played on Tour, as did Danielle and Dina Ammaccapane and Mardi and Karen Lunn. Donna, Danielle and Mardi all had wins while their siblings did not. Sisters Numa and Russy Gulyanamitta and Aree and Naree Song also competed on Tour but were winless. 

Then there were the Sorenstams.

Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam made history as the first pair of siblings to win on the LPGA Tour. Annika had 19 victories on Tour before her sister captured her one and only victory at the 2000 Standard Register Ping.

''I'm so proud of her. She's always been in my shadow, and now she's broken through,” Annika told the New York Times following her sister’s victory in 2000. “I'm more happy for her because I know what she has gone through, with everyone comparing her to me. I just wanted her to play her own game because I knew she was good enough to win.''

Annika went on to win 53 more times on the LPGA Tour, including three consecutive years between 2003 and 2005 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

And for 18 years the record stood with the Sorenstams as the only sisters to win in the 68-year history of the LPGA Tour. Then, in 2018, the record was broken by not just one, but two sets of sisters.

As young girls growing up in Thailand, Moriya and Ariya Jutanugarn took up the game at the same time and soon set their sights on playing the LPGA Tour. Moriya, the older of the two, joined the Tour in 2013, two years before her younger sister, Ariya. But Moriya was quickly overshadowed by her younger sister, who won five times and captured her first major championship in 2016.

“You know, someone take longer time,” Moriya said about waiting and watching Ariya win. “I have my own way to do things and she have her own way, just because different kind of person, different people.”

Moriya remained patient as she watched her sister win multiple times in 2017.

“What we know is we never compare each other. We just know we going to do our best and try our hardest,” Ariya said. “She inspires me a lot to be patient.”

In 2018, the wait for Moriya was over.

Six years into her career on the LPGA Tour, Moriya held off a Sunday charge by Hall of Famer Inbee Park to win for the first time at the HUGEL-AIR PREMIA LA Open. It was her 156th start on Tour. With her mother and sister looking on, Moriya also made history. The Jutanugarns became just the second set of sisters, joining the Sorenstams, to win on the LPGA Tour.

“Annika is one of my favorite players as well, and when she was out here, she been like playing super strong. I grow up and watch her play,” Moriya said after her win “It means a lot.”

Six months later, history was made yet again.

Jessica Korda joined the LPGA Tour in 2011, six years before her younger sister, Nelly.

Like Annika and Ariya, Jessica was already a multiple winner on Tour, so the opportunity to make history lie with Nelly, who would need to win in order to add the Korda name to the record books.

Nelly wasted no time flirting with history. She finished T5 in her LPGA Tour debut at the 2017 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic and recorded four more top 10s in her rookie season. Her sister, Jessica, tried to remain as hands off as possible as she allowed her sister to flourish in her own way and step out of her older sister’s shadow.

“She should be able to do it on her own, just like I did,” Jessica said about Nelly. “She shouldn't have to always be Jessica's little sister or Little Korda, even though I feel like that's going to stick forever”

By the following year, Nelly didn’t seem so little. She was making a real impact on Tour, recording five top 10s in the first half of 2018 and by the Fall was poised for a win. With Jessica sidelined at home with an injury, Nelly broke through with a history making victory at the 2018 Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship. Watching in the middle of the night from her home in Florida, Jessica wept openly on social media in celebration of her younger sister’s victory and promptly called her on FaceTime after the winning putt dropped.

“I was on FaceTime with her and she was saying how proud of me she is, and you know, she was crying probably more than me today,” Nelly said after her win. “But it's a bond, like that you just can't even think of. She's definitely my best friend. She's been there every step of the way.”

The Sorenstams, Jutanugarns and Kordas hold a special place in women’s golf history, but it won’t likely be another 18 years before the next pair of siblings joins them in the winner’s circle. With young girls making up the largest growing segment in golf, there are likely dozens of sisters who have grown up watching these siblings, inspired to make a little history of their own in the years to come.

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