Two of the LPGA Tour's top players face a $25,000 fine from the circuit because they have violated the LPGA Tour One-in-Four Rule.
Jin Young Ko and Minjee Lee face the fine because they are not competing in this week's season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. They were both eligible to compete in the winners-only event as players who have won at least one LPGA Tour event in either 2021 or 2022.
Under LPGA Tour rules, players are required to compete in each U.S.-based event on the schedule for which they have been eligible in the prior four seasons. With Ko and Lee having been eligible for four years and not entering in any of those years, they are subject to a $25,000 fine from the tour. It's unclear if the tour will levy those fines in full, in reduced amounts or at all. The players can also use a one-time exemption from the rule to apply here to avoid the fine.
Players are also able to appeal to the commissioner, Mollie Marcoux-Samaan, regarding the fines. Ko could argue that she signed up for the 2023 event but ultimately withdrew, and she has been battling a wrist injury for months that really can only improve with rest.
Both players could make the case that the Orlando-based season-opener is not conducive to them playing for several reasons. The biggest reason, though, is travel. The Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions may be the first event on the schedule, but the second isn't for another month, when the LPGA Tour's winter Asian swing starts in Thailand. Making the expensive, long trek from South Korea for Ko and Australia for Lee for just one tournament may seem like too much -- frankly, not much different than the fine.
For veterans, the One-in-Four Rule doesn't apply after 230 LPGA Tour starts.
The PGA Tour has a similar rule, requiring players must add an event they had not played the previous four seasons to their schedule the following season -- if they didn't play in 25 events in the prior season. Now, though, things are complicated for players who receive money from the Player Impact Program, as they are now are not subject to the requirement if they honor playing in the 17 designated events (if eligible, with one exemption) and 20 total tournaments.