Grace Kim is one of three fresh faces who have been rewarded with selection in Golf Australia’s Rookie Squad for 2022.
Kim, 21, and Queenslanders Louis Dobbelaar, 20, and Jed Morgan, 22 – all Australian Amateur champions in the past two years before turning pro – are the new faces in the squad for this year.
They will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Minjee Lee, Hannah Green, Cameron Smith and Lucas Herbert as Rookie Squad players.
Twelve players have been named in the squad, which Golf Australia instituted several years ago to help young professionals in their early years on the tours of the world.
Familiar faces from 2021 include former Australian Junior champion Elvis Smylie, soon-to-be LPGA Tour players Steph Kyriacou, Karis Davidson and US-based Gabi Ruffels, the former US Amateur champion.
Rookie squad players receive a level of funding to help them through the period of establishing themselves as travelling professionals.
“This is a really talented squad of young golfers, and the three new additions were fairly obvious selections,” said Brad James, Golf Australia’s General Manager of High Performance.
“Grace, Louis and Jed are outstanding players and they’ve shown that already. What we need to do as an industry is to make sure that as they embark on the first stages of their professional careers, they have some support and we put appropriate resources in place so that they have the opportunity to make the most of their potential.
“The first five years out on tour as a pro are quite often the toughest. The travel is not cheap and the curve is not always going upward, so to speak, in every single case. There are playing rights to be earned and retained and lessons to be learned about playing for your living and being on the road.
“That’s why the rookie squad is one of the most important programs we deliver in Australian golf. We try to operate as a team, an Australian team. We have mentoring systems in place for the younger players to connect with established players on tour, practising together and hanging out. We have the Australian Golf House in Florida where so many players – both pro and amateur – come to meet with other Australian players and connect and engage. The general idea is to make sure that they don’t feel alone out there, that they have the support of the nation as they try to navigate the substantial challenges that exist for a young player.”
Avondale Golf Club’s Kim turned pro last year after a stellar amateur career that included the 2021 Australian Amateur crown, two New South Wales Amateurs an Australian Junior and a Youth Olympics gold medal. She has already produced great results as a pro, finishing runner-up in the inaugural Fortinet WPGA Championship last December at Royal Queensland.
Brookwater’s Dobbelaar won the 2021 men’s Australian Amateur and was a prolific winner as an amateur, including multiple State amateur championships, as well as winning twice in America last year at big events. He has recently earned playing rights for the PGA Latino Tour.
Morgan has made a spectacular start to his pro career, winning the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland last December by a record margin of 11 shots. The Queenslander is a runaway leader of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour Order Of Merit for 2021-22, with a top-three spot earning a DP World Tour card for 2022-23.
There are four players from the 2021 group who are no longer part of the squad. Maverick Antcliff and Brett Coletta graduated after having the maximum five years on the squad, while David Micheluzzi and Robyn Choi have not been selected after having two and three years of support respectively.
James said Australian golf was in great shape. “The talent that is coming through is really good,” he said.
“What this is about is supporting those players as they start out and helping be the best that they can be. We see the Rookie Squad as playing a pivotal role in the development of young Aussie golfers.”
2022 GOLF AUSTRALIA ROOKIE SQUAD
• Stephanie Kyriacou (NSW), 4th year
• Gabi Ruffels (VIC), 2nd year
• Karis Davidson (QLD), 5th year
• Grace Kim (NSW), 1st year
• Zach Murray (VIC), 4th year
• Jed Morgan (QLD), 1st year
• Louis Dobbelaar (QLD), 1st year
• Dylan Perry (NSW), 4th year
• Elvis Smylie (QLD), 2nd year
• Jack Thompson (SA), 2nd year
• Blake Windred (NSW), 3rd year
• Travis Smyth (NSW), 5th year