Chiara Noja joins an impressive list of players – Brooke Henderson, Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson – who made their professional debuts at the ShopRite LPGA Classic as sponsor exemptions.
The 17-year-old won her first LET title last November at age 16 at the Aramco Team Series event in Jeddah, defeating Charley Hull in a two-hole playoff. Noja finished runner-up last week at the Belgian Ladies Open and has seven top-15 finishes so far on the LET this season. She’s currently fifth in the 2023 Race to Costa Del Sol rankings for LET Player of the Year.
Noja, who is still in high school, makes only her second start on U.S. soil this week in New Jersey. She heads next to her native Berlin for the Amundi German Masters and then home to Dubai for prom.
“I actually do enjoy being in this school and being a regular person out there,” she said. “Then coming back to golf and you just feel a lot more refreshed.”
At 6-feet tall, Noja averages 295 yards off the tee on the Ladies European Tour but says she doesn’t swing full throttle in competition. Her swing speed of 106 mph is plenty, she noted, because hitting the fairway remains priority.
“When I was like 13, I had a bit of back pain because I think I was just swinging it too fast for my frame,” she said, “so we’ve made sure that I’m just swinging healthy and efficiently, and that’s what I’ve done or the last two years.”
Currently No. 94 in the world, Noja won’t turn 18 until next March and would need special permission from the tour to attend LPGA Q-Series later this year.
“I’m hoping I can go to Q-School at the end of the year,” said Noja, “but it’s dependant on my age, so we’ll see what the answer is to that.”