Allisen Corpuz’s academic resume at USC was even more impressive than her formidable achievements on the golf course.
Twice an All-American pick and ranked No. 1 nationally as a fifth-year senior, Corpuz also earned an undergraduate degree in business administration, a master’s in global supply chain management, and graduate certificates in business analytics sustainability and business.
“And it wasn’t like she was just skating by in those classes. She was getting As, A-minuses, B-pluses, a very high GPA,” said USC coach Jordan Silverstein, who began watching Corpuz when she was in eighth grade. “She took it very seriously. Her mom and dad did a phenomenal job training her for that. She got every inch she could out of this university.”
Now in her second season on the LPGA tour, Corpuz is adding significant accomplishments to her golf resume and is poised to make her mark on a competitive tour that has crowned 23 first-time winners the last two seasons.
Corpuz, who grew up in Hawaii but calls Southern California and the Rolling Hills Country Club her base, convincingly won the U.S. Women’s Open at legendary Pebble Beach in July for her first career tour victory. She was the only player in the field who shot under par all four days, compiling a nine-under 279 on the strength of a dominant final round.
With that mastery came a $2 million prize — the largest ever for the winner of an LPGA major — and chances to represent the U.S. in the Solheim Cup and the Grant Thornton Invitational, a team event that brings together top LPGA and PGA players.
Corpuz leads the LPGA money list with $3,017, 771, ahead of Lilia Vu of Fountain Valley and UCLA ($2.76 million). Corpuz has recorded five top-10 finishes this season and is primed to add another at this weekend’s ANNIKA tournament at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Fla.
Corpuz finished third behind Nelly Korda and Lexi Thompson last year at the prestigious event named for Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam, so she’s familiar with the course. The last year’s experience should help her conquer any challenges that arise.
“I played really solid at Pelican last year, and so I think it was the course that really suited my game. Really like how it looks,” Corpuz said during a video news conference. “I think a lot of Florida courses look similar to Hawaii courses. The Bermuda [grass] and a few of the holes have the water running along the sides. Pretty wide open fairways and just need to be a little more, I guess, focused on your approach shots. I had the putter going pretty well there and just overall liked the course design.”
Her growth the last year has taken place mostly in her head. After playing five straight weeks last season and feeling exhausted, she learned to pace herself and figure out which courses best fit her style. “This year was a lot of mental work, honestly,” she said. “My rookie year was more just getting comfortable, learning what a tournament week looks like.
“Just coming out and telling myself that I’m good enough to compete. I’ve been playing well and been working hard. I think that was the biggest game-changer for me.”
The daughter of a Filipino father, Marcos, and Korean mother, May, Corpuz began playing golf when she was 4. She said she was terrible at first but she was a quick learner: She was 10 years, three months and nine days old in 2008 when she broke Michelle Wie West’s record as the youngest qualifier in U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links history.
She went on to thrive at USC, invigorated by her studies and the golf team’s excellence. “Just having the time to mature and grow, I think, helped a lot,” said Corpuz, who had a USC logo on her golf bag and on the yardage book she had in her back pocket when she won at Pebble Beach.
Silverstein said Corpuz’s ballstriking with her irons was among the best the program had witnessed.
“And her yardage knowledge is the best we’ve ever seen, her ability to control her distance not on full shots is super, super elite,” he said. “Those two aspects combined made her the best iron player we’ve ever had here. And one thing about iron play is it travels. It goes site to site. There is no course in the world where good iron play doesn’t help you. So we knew if she carried that on to professional golf, and then elevated the other parts of her game a little bit, she was going to be a very elite professional golfer.”
She’s approaching that level. “I think she’s got potential to be a top-five player in the world, if not the No. 1 player in the world,” Silverstein said. “She’s very advanced with her mental skills. She’s very self aware outside of golf but also on the golf course, so I think that will enable her to be very consistent with her golf.
“And if her iron play stays at that level even when she’s not super sharp, she’ll be able to make cuts. To get your ranking as high as she’s looking for it to get, simply making cuts and finishing in the top 30, 40 on your off weeks — and I’m using air quotes when I say off weeks — is important because you’re still stacking points and money.”
Success hasn’t changed Corpuz. She hasn’t blown her new wealth on cars or other big-ticket indulgences, and she recognized her Pebble Beach victory as a potential launching pad for a triumphant career, not a final destination. The magnitude of her victory is still sinking in.
“I think the more that I hear from other people how much fun they had watching me on TV, just having Pebble Beach hosting a women’s tournament, I think it just becomes more special the more I hear it,” she said.
Imagine that: The little girl who thought she was terrible at golf is all grown up and ready to make a big impact on the sport.