Meet the 2023 Epson Tour graduates

by Joanne Miller

After a thrilling season on the Epson Tour, the 2023 graduating class has emerged, with four talented athletes earning their LPGA Tour Membership for the 2024 season. Let’s meet these rising stars who have showcased their skills and determination throughout the year.

Leading the pack is Gabriela Ruffels, a 23-year-old from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Ruffels had an impressive rookie season on the Epson Tour, securing five top-10 finishes and finishing 15th on the official money list. Unfortunately, she missed the registration deadline for the LPGA Q-Series, but that setback only fueled her fire.

Returning to the Epson Tour in 2023, Ruffels dominated the competition, winning three times in the first 15 events. Her exceptional performance earned her the title of 2023 Epson Tour Player of the Year and secured her LPGA Tour rookie status for 2024. Ruffels also broke records along the way, setting the 36-hole scoring record and tying the 54-hole scoring record at the Garden City Charity Classic at Buffalo Dunes. With her strong showing this season, Ruffels has proven herself as a force to be reckoned with.

Next up is Natasha Andrea Oon, a 22-year-old from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Oon made a strong impression in her first season on the Epson Tour, with four top-10 finishes in her first five starts. Consistency was her hallmark, as she carded four second-place results before capturing her first professional win at the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout. Oon’s stellar performances earned her the title of 2023 Epson Tour Rookie of the Year and a well-deserved spot on the LPGA Tour for 2024.

Auston Kim, a 23-year-old from St. Augustine, Florida, also secured her spot on the LPGA Tour for 2024. Kim joined the Epson Tour in 2022 and had an outstanding sophomore season, culminating in a victory at the Epson Tour Championship. With 10 top-10 finishes throughout the year, Kim showcased her consistency and talent. Her front-nine score of 29 (-7) during the final round of the Epson Tour Championship tied the lowest 9-hole score in the tournament’s history. Kim’s hard work and dedication, with the unwavering support of her family, paid off as she realized her dream of earning LPGA Tour Membership.

Jiwon Jeon, a 26-year-old from Daegu, Republic of Korea, completes the graduating class of 2023. Since her debut on the Epson Tour in 2022, Jeon has consistently performed well, with two career victories and five top-10 finishes. This season, Jeon’s outstanding performances, including victories at the Inova Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship and the French Lick Resort Charity Classic, propelled her to secure her LPGA Tour card for the 2024 season.

These four athletes have shown immense talent, determination, and passion for the game of golf. Through ups and downs, they have persevered and emerged as top contenders on the Epson Tour. Their success serves as an inspiration to young girls who aspire to play golf professionally.

As the 2023 graduating class prepares to transition to the LPGA Tour, they express their excitement and gratitude for this opportunity. Gabriela Ruffels expresses her pride in achieving her goal of playing on the LPGA Tour and looks forward to competing in the tournaments she grew up watching on TV. Natasha Andrea Oon is in awe of the players she grew up admiring and is excited to learn from them and compete alongside them. Auston Kim describes the long and challenging journey she and her family went through to reach this point and is grateful for their unwavering support. Jiwon Jeon is overwhelmed with emotions and expresses her gratitude for the chance to fulfill her dream of playing on the LPGA Tour.

The Epson Tour has served as a stepping stone for aspiring golfers to launch their careers on the big stage. With the support of sponsors and the dedication of talented athletes, the Epson Tour continues to provide a platform for growth and development. As we bid farewell to the 2023 graduating class, we eagerly await the next generation of golfers who will make their mark on the Epson Tour and beyond.

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