LPGA tries East Course and two men’s events tackle the West
The golf world is getting a close look at Malaysia this year through the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. The 36-hole facility is a rarity in that it plays host to this week’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and two events on men’s tours – the Maybank Malaysian Open in March and the CIMB Classic on the PGA Tour in two weeks.
The women are playing the East Course, which measures 6,246 yards and plays to par 71 for the 72-hole event.
The men play on the West Course. Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat won the tournament earlier this year, the fourth consecutive playing of the event at Kuala Lumpur G&CC. Phil Mickelson heads the field for the 78-player field in the CIMB Classic, played at Kuala Lumpur G&CC for the first time after previously being held at The Mines Resort.
Playing at the same venue will be further advanced next summer when the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens will be played at Pinehurst, N.C., No. 2 with the men preceding the women by one week in June on the Donald Ross-designed course.
Watery finish at Kuala Lumpur
This week’s participants will need to be very accurate on the four finishing holes on the East Course as water is in play on just about every shot.
The par-3 15th hole, measuring 136 yards, will remind you of the par-3 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass because of its length and the island green. The 157-yard, par-3 17th has water in front and to the right. The 521-yard, par-5 16th has water in play off the tee and at the green. The 390-yard finishing hole, reminiscent of the 18th at the Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Fla., has a large pond in front of and to the right of the green, which is a double green shared with the par-4 second hole.
South Korean dominance
The South Korean fall event, the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship, comes next week. But South Korean golfers have had great success in Malaysia. In three playings of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur G&CC, three South Koreans have won.
In 2010, Jimin Kang shot a final-round 65 to beat Juli Inkster by one stroke. In 2011, Na Yeon Choi’s final-round 68 held off Yani Tseng (65) to win by one. Last year, Inbee Park fired a final-round 67 to beat Choi by two.
1-2-3 in action
The top three players in the world are in the field for this week’s Sime Darby LPGA Classic. Last week, No. 2-ranked Stacy Lewis finished second and No. 1 Inbee Park finished third behind China’s Shanshan Feng in the Reignwood China Classic. Pettersen, who didn’t play last week in China, is paired with Park and Karrie Webb in the first round.
Here’s a look at how they stand in the race for the Rolex LPGA Player of the Year award, which awards points for top-10 finishes in tournaments, ranging from 30 for first to 1 for 10th:
|Inbee Park||290||Finished third (9 points)|
|Stacy Lewis||195||Finished second (12 points)|
Lewis’s low second places
Stacy Lewis has finished second twice in two of the last three tournaments, shooting 18-under par (with no bogeys) at the Safeway Classic, two behind winner Suzann Pettersen, in early September and 25-under last week, one behind Shanshan Feng, at the Reignwood LPGA Classic.
“I’m doing something right,” Lewis said. “I’m playing good golf. I feel good. After this week, I get three weeks off to kind of refresh for a little bit but my game is in a good place and that’s what I take out of last week.”
International Crown internationally
The first and second playings of the International Crown are scheduled for 2014 at Caves Valley near Baltimore, Md., and for 2016 at Rich Harvest Farms in Chicago. As for when and where the next event in 2018 will be, LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan is still looking at sites.
“We want to play it in the middle of the year, not in November or December when no one is thinking about golf and in the middle of the season, most of the world’s best golfers are in the U.S. to get them started,” Whan said this week. “Eight years or so down the road, I believe we’ll see it being played on different continents. But to get started we wanted to make sure we made it convenient for the best players to play in it and not skip events in the process of doing so.”
Golf Channel will show all four rounds live this week – 12:30-3 a.m. EDT for the first three rounds and midnight-3 a.m. for the final round. Kuala Lumpur is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time. … Yani Tseng’s sixth-place finish last week in China was her best finish since a T3 in February at the Honda LPGA Thailand.