The U.S. domestic schedule begins this week by celebrating the 13 Founders of the LPGA Tour at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. The tournament returns to Phoenix for the third time and will feature a star-studded 144-player field, all vying for a $1.5 million purse. Like last year, $500,000 of the total pot will be going to the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program.
In 2012, Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng held off Na Yeon Choi, Ai Miyazato and the darkness in Phoenix to capture a one-shot victory at the 2012 RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. Tseng two-putted from 45-feet on the 18th green as darkness fell upon the Wildfire Golf Club to secure her 14th career LPGA Tour victory. She is coming off a hot start to the 2013 season with two top-5 finishes in the first three events and is in search of capturing her 16th career victory and defending her second title of the year.
The winners of the first three events of the season – No. 3 Stacy Lewis, No. 6 Jiyai Shin and No. 4 Inbee Park – are also slated to be in the field this week following their victories in Asia. With their wins and Tseng’s 22-tournament streak without a win, the margin is getting narrow with a tight race to the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
No. 2 Na Yeon Choi is coming off an outstanding 2012 season with victories at the U.S. Women’s Open at Black Wolf Run and the season-ending CME Group Titleholders. So far this season she has notched two back-to-back top-10 finishes in her first two events of the season, finishing second to Stacy Lewis at the HSBC Women’s Champions.
There are 16 rookies slated to be in the field this week hoping to make a statement on their debut as LPGA Tour pros. Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn, who finished with a T4 at the season-opening event in Australia, looks to keep her demanding lead in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race, with Japan’s Ayako Uehara, Chie Arimura and Austin Ernst following close behind.