What happened to Sophia Popov last season on the LPGA won’t happen again.
The LPGA on Monday released a list of rule changes for this season, including a couple that will benefit non-members, like Popov last year, who win majors or other LPGA events.
Popov won last summer’s AIG Women’s Open, but because she had only Symetra Tour status, she was unable to collect official points and money (that kept her out of the season finale, the CME Group Tour Championship) and only received a two-year LPGA exemption, which begins this year.
“It’s the regulation we started the season with,” then LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said last year. “It’s what we’ll finish the season with.”
But the new rules make it so that non-member winners can count official money and points earned from that tournament toward season-long races. Starting this season, the LPGA is using its CME Globe Points list to determine status for the following season.
Non-member winners will now also receive five-year tour exemptions and be allowed to tee it up in the next week’s event, another thing Popov and U.S. Women’s Open winner A Lim Kim, another non-member winner, couldn’t do a year ago.
“It’s awesome that they changed these things,” Popov told Golfweek. “I figured they wouldn’t make it retroactive for me. That they would change the rule in general so it wouldn’t happen to girls after me. … It’s all really just common sense to be honest, to me.”
Other rule changes include the return of mandatory caddies and local qualifying for some LPGA events, and a new pace-of-play policy that will kick in at the Kia Classic.