Pettersen makes season debut
Suzann Pettersen begins her 2014 season this week with a focus on becoming the top-ranked player in the world, a position she has never held despite being in the top 10 for 349 weeks during her career. As the second-ranked player, followed closely by Stacy Lewis, the top spot is getting closer. No. 1 Inbee Parks (this is her 44th consecutive week at No. 1) is not in the field this week in Australia and Pettersen and Lewis are. Five of the world's top 10 players are entered – Pettersen, Lewis, Lydia Ko, Karrie Webb and Lexi Thompson.
No defending champion
South Korea’s Jiyai Shin, a former No. 1 player and the 2013 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open champion, is not playing in this week’s tournament. She withdrew and plans on focusing her 2014 season on Japan instead of the LPGA.
Victoria Golf Club a star attraction
This week’s venue, the Victoria Golf Club, gives the LPGA players a rare chance to play an Alister MacKenzie design. MacKenzie designed Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament; Cypress Point at Pebble Beach, Calif., and Royal Melbourne, which sits adjacent to Victoria Golf Club, among other courses.
The course layout is unusual in that each nine ends with consecutive par 5s, thereby setting up a dramatic finish on Sunday.
Established in the early 1900s, Victoria has a rare double honor also. In 1954, club members Doug Bachli (British Amateur) and Peter Thomson (first of his five British Open titles) brought home the titles and a room is named for them in the clubhouse. Club member Geoff Ogilvy won the 2006 U.S. Open.
Two Australians are very familiar with the course. Allison Whitaker grew up playing at Victoria and Stacey Keating has been a member there since 2006.
This week’s LPGA event will be the first time Victoria has hosted the tournament since 1976. It is the third year the tournament has been an official LPGA event.
Woods’ first career victory brings added attention
Coming off her first career professional victory last week, Cheyenne Woods will have increased interest this week when the 23-year-old American tees it up as a sponsor exemption for the LPGA’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
On the Ladies European Tour last week, she won the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters in Queensland, Australia. The Phoenix native, Wake Forest graduate and niece of Tiger Woods shared the second-round lead, held the third-round lead by herself and held off Australian amateur Minjee Lee, 17, down the stretch on Sunday.
Woods has lived in the spotlight her entire golf life as a result of her uncle, who is a brother of Cheyenne’s father, Earl Jr. But the win gave her confidence beyond family ties.
“I've been pro for two years and, for the majority of it, people just think of me as Tiger Woods’ niece, so now I have a game of my own and I have a title now, a win, which is exciting,” she said. “It's nice now to say to people that I can play and I’m not just a name.
“Growing up with the last name of Woods, there are a lot of expectations and pressure and spotlight on you but I always knew that I was able to win. I always knew I’d be able to compete with these ladies so now it’s kind of a weight off my shoulders because now everybody knows, not just me.”
Woods is not an LPGA member after she missed the cut at last December’s LPGA Qualifying Tournament. As a result, she is a rookie on the Symetra Tour and is in her second year of membership on the Ladies European Tour. Her best career LPGA finish was a T50 at the 2012 Evian Ladies Masters. She was ranked 363rd in the Rolex Women’s Rankings last week, but moved up 209 spots to 154th after the victory.
Her victory in Australia came five years after Tiger won his only professional event in Australia, the 2009 JBWere Australian Masters. That was his last victory outside of the United States.
Here’s a look at Woods’ career record on the LPGA:
|U.S. Women’s Open||Cut|
|Evian Ladies Masters||T50|
|KEB Hana Bank Championship||60|
|ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open||T72|
|Honda LPGA Thailand||T68|
|The Evian Championship||Cut|
Jessica Korda has played eight rounds this year and has been the overnight leader three times (twice in her victory in the Bahamas and the first-round lead last week in Australia). … Victoria, Australia, this week’s site, is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. The Golf Channel will show Thursday’s first round live (11 p.m.-2 a.m. EST on Wednesday night). The other rounds are scheduled for taped delays Friday-Sunday. … Two players have recorded consecutive top-10s in this event – Yani Tseng (second and T8) and Beatriz Recari (T4 and T10). … New Zealand’s Lydia Ko isn’t the only teenager making news Down Under. Australians Minjee Lee from Perth (runner-up last week at the Ladies Masters) and Su-Hyun Oh from Melbourne (runner-up in the Ladies Masters two years ago), both 17, are in this week’s field as amateurs. … Players to look out for this week: Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall finished last week’s Ladies Masters with a 66 to finish T5 and Ariya Jutanguarn is making her first start since mid-2013 after suffering a shoulder injury.
Topics: Stats and Stuff