Week of April 15, 2013
LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf
Ko Olina Golf Club, Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii
Battle for No. 1
Stacy Lewis held the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings for four weeks following her victory at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix on March 17. But her hold on the No. 1 ranking slipped during this past off week when South Korea’s Inbee Park moved into the top spot for the first time in her career. With the help of two victories in 2013, including her second major championship at the Kraft Nabisco, Park becomes the eighth player to hold the No. 1 ranking since they started in 2006.
There are plenty of challengers waiting in the wings to make a charge for the top spot and is the tightest battle the Tour has seen in years. Lewis trails Park by just .04 average points, while former No. 1 Yani Tseng is a threat at .87 average points behind. Park said she will be celebrating her recent victory at Kraft and the new No. 1 ranking with her family in Hawaii, but knows that the Tour’s recent outburst of talent and depth will pose as a challenge to keep it.
“It’s nice to reach this goal, but I know a lot of players are close to No. 1,” said Park. “It gives me something else to play for every week and I know it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Back for more
Ai Miyazato is coming off the second multi-win season of her career in 2012 and she’ll try to get back to her winning ways this week in Hawaii where she is the defending champion at the second playing of the LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf. The talented Okinawa, Japan native has already put herself in contention to return to the winner’s circle again this season. She finished runner-up to Stacy Lewis at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup last month.
Miyazato captured her first win of the 2012 season here in Hawaii at the LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf last April. She then went on to win the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G a little over two months later. A nine-time winner in eight seasons on the LPGA Tour, Miyazato has already distinguished herself as one of the best players in the world. Now she’ll try to see if she can defend her title in Hawaii and find herself hula dancing on the 18th green for the second year in a row.
This year LPGA players have five opportunities to take home a major championship title, and for those who have followed the women’s game recently it didn’t seem surprising that the first of those majors this year went to South Korean Inbee Park.
Park’s game has been a model of consistency over the past 12 months. Since finishing in a T12 last year in Hawaii, she has recorded four victories and six runner-ups. The seven-year LPGA Tour member had her breakout year in 2012 and is coming off a statistically dominating season, earning the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and topped the money list. Known for her putting prowess, Park led the tour in putts per GIR for the third time in her career and was No. 1 in putting average for the second time. She also put together a streak of 10 consecutive top-10 finishes and will be playing for top performances in the upcoming events to keep her new title of No. 1.
Making an impression?
Less than four months remain until the 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup team is announced after the completion of the RICOH Women’s British Open at St. Andrews in Scotland. For many American players, now is the time to make a strong push for those much needed points.
U.S. Solheim Cup captain Meg Mallon is on hand this week in Hawaii. Mallon not only celebrated her 50th birthday on Sunday in the Aloha State but she will get a chance to see some LPGA action in person this week on the course. There have already been a number of Americans who have been making noise early this season and that has helped to move them up the points list.
Among the Americans who have seen their chances at making this year’s U.S. Team steadily improve are Jessica Korda and Lizette Salas. Besides Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer, who are ranked No. 1 and 2 respectively in points, no one has earned more points in 2013 than Salas. In six events so far this year, Salas has earned 85.5 points while Korda isn’t far behind with 70.5 points. Korda currently ranks eighth in the standings with 136.5 total points while Salas is ninth with 130.5 points. The top 8 players in the points standings will automatically make the U.S. Solheim Cup Team.
All eyes on Ko
It came as no surprise to many that 15-year-old Lydia Ko earned the honor of low amateur at the Kraft Nabisco Championship two weeks ago. Ko finished in a T25 at 2-under-par after closing out the week with a 3-under 69 in the final round. It was the third time Ko earned low amateur at an LPGA Tour major. In 2012 she finished T39 at the U.S. Women’s Open and T17 at the Women’s British Open.
Last year, Ko became the youngest winner in LPGA history when she captured the CN Canadian Women’s Open at 15 years, 4 months, 2 days.
Since her victory last summer in Vancouver, Ko has been racking up solid performances and not just on the LPGA Tour. The top-ranked amateur in the world won the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open on the LET & ALPG earlier this year and went on to strong finishes at the first two LPGA events of 2013 at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open (3rd) and the Honda LPGA Thailand (T14). She enters this week in Hawaii ranked No. 22 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings.
April 17 – April 20
LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf
Ko Olina Golf Club
Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii
Field: 144 (143 professionals, 1 amateur)
Par: 36-36, 72
Format: 72-hole stroke play
Defending champion: Ai Miyazato
April 17 6:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
April 18 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
April 19 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
April 20 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
All times Eastern
***This week’s field information: LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf***
2013 LPGA Tour rookies (16)
2013 LPGA Official Money List
Top 10: 9/10
Top 20: 18/20
Top 50: 45/50
2012- Ai Miyazato
Press conference schedule
Tuesday, April 16
4:00 p.m. Defending champion Ai Miyazato, Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis, No. 1 Inbee Park,
No. 3 Yani Tseng and No. 4 Na Yeon Choi
*Times are approximate and subject to change.
(all times are local in Kapolei)
***Symetra Tour current player and alum factoids***
A total of 68 Symetra Tour alums are on tap to compete this week in the Aloha State of Hawaii for the second annual LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf. Among the 68 alums are the ten players from last year’s Volvik Race for the Card graduating class. Thidapa Suwannapura is only player from last year’s top-10 to have competed in the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Daniela Iacobelli is ranked the highest of the 10 on the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race at sixth (21 points).
Also in the field this week is Symetra alum Inbee Park who recorded her second major victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship two weeks ago. Park’s four-stroke win served as her fifth career LPGA Tour title and helped her move into the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings on Monday morning.
Park played on the Symetra Tour in 2006 and recorded eleven top-10 finishes including a runner-up finish at the CIGNA Chip In For a Cure FUTURES Golf Classic. Park’s successful season landed her third on the season-ending money list and earned her exempt status for the 2007 season.
The Symetra Tour will return to action next week at the Guardian Retirement Championship at Sara Bay, which will take place April 26-28 at Sara Bay Country Club in Sarasota, Fla. It will mark the third event on the Symetra Tour this season and so far there have been two different winners – Jaclyn Sweeney and Melissa Eaton.