February 20 2014, Ward Clayton
A quick look at this week’s Honda LPGA Thailand:
- Inbee Park: The South Korean star makes her 2014 debut and is closing on a one-year reign as the game’s No. 1-ranked player, even though that position is being severely challenged. This week’s defending champion will face No. 2 Suzann Pettersen and No. 3 Stacy Lewis in the same pairing for the first round.
- Young guns: Two pairings before the Nos. 1-3 players, a threesome of the top teens will play together – American Lexi Thompson (19), Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn (18) and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko (16). Jutanugarn was the runner-up here last year.
- Top 10: All of the top 10 players in the world are entered this week.
- The finish: This week’s course, The Pattaya Old Course at Siam Country Club, marks the third time in three events this season where a reachable par 5 ends the tournament. Last year, Inbee Park snuck into the winner’s circle when Ariya Jutanugarn double bogeyed the final hole.
- Thailand’s time?: A Thai player has never won this event but this could be the year, with Pornanong Phatlum and the Jutanugarn sisters the top threats. An American has never won this event either.
- Time in Thailand: Chonburi, Thailand is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
- Yani Tseng: The former World No. 1 hasn’t won on the LPGA since the March 2012 Kia Classic. But she is comfortable at this tournament. In five career starts, she has won twice, placed third twice and finished seventh.
- Limited field: The field this week has only 70 players and there is no cut.
- International swing: After this week in Thailand, the LPGA travels to Singapore next week for the HSBC Women’s Champions. Then it’s off to the United States for 10 consecutive tournaments from mid-March to late June.