Top Storylines at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Stacy Lewis chips out of the sand onto the 18th green during the second round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic at the Crossings Course at the Robert Trent Jones Trail at Magnolia Grove on April 27, 2012 in Mobile, Alabama.

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Top Storylines

Lewis comes full circle:
Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis returns to Mobile, Ala. to defend the first of four titles she earned last season in 2012. Lewis gets to come full circle this week and can be reminded of how much she has achieved in just one calendar year, dating back to her second-career win at the Crossings at Magnolia Grove. Although it wasn’t her first-career victory, her one-stroke win over Lexi Thompson in southern Alabama last season proved to be her breakout moment. She went on to record three more wins and eight additional top-10 finishes en route to Rolex Player of the Year honors.

The Woodlands, Texas native has kept things rolling in 2013, notching two wins in her first four starts at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore and the RR Donnelley Founders Cup in Phoenix, Ariz. She reached No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings after her second victory and held the spot for four weeks. Current No. 1 Inbee Park will be missing in action this week, setting Lewis up for the perfect opportunity to close in on the top spot. Park sits 1.09 average points over Lewis in the rankings and leaves the door open to the University of Arkansas alum who is trying for her fourth-consecutive top-10 finish and eighth this season. Lewis is coming off a solid performance, finishing in a tie for fifth at the Tour’s last stop at the Kingsmill Championship.

Who to watch for this week:
Rolex Rankings No. 27 Beatriz Recari will look to extend her made-cut streak to 43 this week and notch her second win in 2013. Recari, who won her second-career victory at the 2013 Kia Classic, has the chance to move up the rankings on both the money list and in Rolex Player of the Year points. She currently ranks fourth in both categories with $470,111 made this year and has 46 points toward the award that honors the Tour’s top player.

Lexi Thompson loves the state of Alabama and has played some of her best golf in her career on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. She made history in 2011 when she became the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history (since broken by Lydia Ko) with her victory at the Navistar Classic in Prattville. Both of the teenagers’ best finishes last season in 2012 came on the Trail when she recorded runner-up finishes at both the Navistar Classic and the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. She’s had an up-and-down year so far with one top-10 finish in Singapore and is due for a top finish.

Two past champions are also in the field this week and have shown they know how to close out a tournament on the Trail. Angela Stanford (2008) and Maria Hjorth (2011) will play for their second wins in Mobile. Stanford is coming off her second top-5 finish of the season at the Kingsmill Championship where she played solid golf the entire week, carding rounds of 68-68-70-69. The Texas native says she plays well where she’s comfortable, and if she can channel any good memories from 2008 this week, Stanford will be one to watch.

Twenty-nine LPGA Tour rookies will have the chance to make a name for themselves this week, with nine making their debuts as LPGA members. Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn leads the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year race with 269 points with Germany’s Caroline Masson trailing at No. 2 with 128 points.

Back for more:
Bradenton, Fla. native Jessica Korda returns to action this week after a two-week break while treating a wrist injury sustained from hitting a metal pipe in the final round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship presented by J Golf. Korda, who missed the Tour’s last stop in Williamsburg, Va. at the Kingsmill Championship, was playing some of the most solid golf out of the LPGA’s American contingent and will try to add on to her three top-6 finishes this year. The 20-year-old and winner of the 2012 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open currently ranks seventh in U.S. Solheim Cup points and will be playing the next nine events with every intention on securing a spot on the U.S. squad. The top eight players will qualify by points, two spots will be given to the highest ranked in the Rolex Rankings not already qualified and two will be selected by U.S. Team Captain Meg Mallon.

Invitation accepted:
Seventeen-year-old Thailand native Ariya Jutanugarn received one of the sponsor exemptions this week and will be playing in her fifth LPGA Tour event this season. Jutanugarn, who is a rookie on the Ladies European Tour, has made the most of her LPGA appearances so far and has yet to finish worse than fourth place.

Jutanugarn will be playing on her fourth sponsor exemption, having Monday qualified for the LPGA LOTTE Championship in Hawaii. She can accept two more exemptions this season to fill out the maximum of six invitations per year. But the Thai teen won’t be missing out on golf’s biggest stages. Jutanugarn has already earned her way into the fields of the Tour’s four remaining majors based on each event’s criteria. Based on her first professional win at the LET”s Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco, Jutanugarn earned a spot in the RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian, which will play as a major for the first time this year. She also secured a spot in the Wegmans LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open based on her Rolex Ranking, where she currently sits at No. 16.
 

Quick facts
May 16 – May 19
Mobile Bay LPGA Classic
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Magnolia Grove
Crossings Course
Mobile, Ala.

Field: 144 (all professionals)
Par:  36-36, 72
Yardage: 6,521
Purse: $1,200,000
Winner:  $180,000
Format: 72-hole stroke play
Defending champion: Stacy Lewis

TV Times
Golf Channel
May 16            6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
May 17            6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
May 18            5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
May 19            5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
All times Eastern

***This week’s field information: Mobile Bay LPGA Classic***

2013 LPGA Tour rookies (29)

Marina Alex Felicity Johnson
Chie Arimura Sara-Maude Juneau
Julia Boland Moriya Jutanagarn
Katie Burnett Taylor Karle
Esther Choe Sue Kim
Perrine Delacour Alejandra Llaneza
Lauren Doughtie Caroline Masson
Paz Echeverria Lisa McCloskey
Victoria Elizabeth Haley Millsap
Marita Engzelius Kayla Mortellaro
Austin Ernst Brooke Pancake
Jordan Hardy* Garrett Phillips
Daniela Iacobelli Nicole Smith
Kelly Jacques Marina Stuetz
*sponsor invite Inhong Lim^
^Monday Qualifier  

                                               
Rolex Rankings
Top 2/10
Top 9/25

2013 LPGA Official Money List
Top 10: 3/10
Top 20: 12/25
Top 50: 31/50

Past Champions
2012    Stacy Lewis
2011    Maria Hjorth
2010    Se Ri Pak
2008    Angela Stanford         

Press conference & media events schedule

Tuesday, May 14

11:15 a.m.       LPGA Tour in Alabama Tournament Update- Dr. David G. Bronner of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan, Mobile Bay LPGA Classic defending champion Stacy Lewis

Wednesday, May 1

1:15 p.m.         Countdown to Solheim Cup- past and potential members of U.S. and European Solheim Cup teams to gather for a round-table discussion on the biennial team event

2:00 p.m.         Stacy Lewis – defending champion, currently No. 2 in Rolex Rankings

2:30 p.m.         SEC Showcase – Former SEC golfers will be in the media center for a photo op and interviews

*Times are approximate and subject to change (all times are local in Mobile)

 

***Symetra Tour current player and alum factoids***

Current-member contingent in Mobile, Kueny notches first-career win

Among the 144 player field this week in Mobile are 16 current Symetra Tour members who competed in last week’s Symetra Classic in Charlotte, N.C. including Alena Sharp.

Sharp had the Symetra Classic trophy within reach until an untimely double-bogey at the par-4 17th landed her in a tie for second. The tournament marked Sharp’s second of the year as she finished runner-up at the season-opening VisitMesa.com Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club. The New Mexico State University currently stands inside the top-10 on the Volvik Race for the Card at No. 6.

Also in the field this week is current Symetra Tour member Katie Burnett (Brunswick, Ga.). The LPGA Tour rookie and second year Symetra Tour member is coming off a career-best T12 finish at the Kingsmill Championship where she recorded rounds of 68-70-71-72. Burnett has only competed in one Symetra Tour event this season at the VisitMesa.com Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club where she finished T42.

The Symetra Tour will head to Asheville, NC this week for the inaugural Friends of Mission Charity Classic. Laura Kueny of Whitehall, Mich. will try to make it two in a row after clinching her first-career Symetra Tour victory last week at the Symetra Classic in Charlotte, NC. Kueny started the final round on Saturday two shots off the lead and carded two birdies and one bogey for the come-from-behind win. She became the fourth different winner in the Tour’s first four events, joining Jaclyn Sweeney (Bradenton, Fla.), Melissa Eaton (Port Shepstone, S. Africa) and Christine Song (Fullerton, Calif.) as winners this season.

At the conclusion of the Symetra Classic, players moving into the top 10 spots in the Volvik Race for the Card are as follows (the top-10 on the season-ending money list earn their LPGA Tour card)  1. Melissa Eaton of Port Shepstone, S. Africa, $20,540; 2. Jaclyn Sweeney of Bradenton, Fla., $17,990; 3. Christine Song of Fullerton, Calif., $17,947; 4. Sue Kim of Langley, British Columbia, $16,916; 5. Laura Kueny of Whitehall, Mich., $16,585; 6. Alena Sharp of Hamilton, Ontario, $16,489; 7. Caroline Westrup of Ahus, Sweden, $12,859; 8. Courtney Massey of Gold Coast, Australia, $12,813; 9. Amelia Lewis of Jacksonville, Fla., $12,713; 10. Isabelle Boineau of Marseille, France, $12,055

Topics: Tournament Preview, Airbus LPGA Classic

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