Top Storylines for the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G

Ai Miyazato
Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Ai Miyazato of Japan hits a tee shot on the 7th hole during the final round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas.

Week of June 17, 2013
Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G
Pinnacle Country Club
Rogers, Arkansas

Top Storylines

On a roll
After Inbee Park’s third-career major championship victory at the Wegmans LPGA Championship two weeks ago, it was made very clear that the 24-year old South Korean has officially taken the LPGA Tour by storm.

After her win, Park said ‘it was a miracle’ that she won and was lucky to have been forced into a playoff with Catriona Matthew after a 3-over 75 in the final round. Park would eventually beat Matthew on the third playoff hole, but even on a day where she didn’t perform her best, the No. 1 ranked player in the world has the game to beat the best on Tour. The victory in Rochester, NY marked her fourth win of the 2013 season and sixth in the past 22 starts dating back to the 2012 Evian Masters. She’s taken a tighter grip on the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings and shows no signs of letting go. Park extended her lead to 2.62 average points over Stacy Lewis, the largest margin since she took over the top spot on April 15 earlier this year.

She has already crossed the $1 million mark in season earnings as the Tour’s schedule hits the halfway point this week in Arkansas. To put things in perspective on just how good Park has been in the past 12 months, she’s made $3,328,763 which is more than half of her career earnings ($6,489,551) in her seven-year stint on Tour. It’d be no surprise to anyone to see Park in contention this week as she prepares for the next week’s U.S. Women’s Open. Park will be seeking her third major win this season and hopes to become only the second player in LPGA history to win the first three majors on the schedule. Babe Zaharias won three in a row in 1950, a year when the Tour had three designated majors.

Ai defends again
Rolex Rankings No. 10 Ai Miyazato returns to Rogers, Ark., seeking to defend her second title she earned last year. The Okinawa, Japan native notched her first win of the 2012 season at the inaugural LOTTE LPGA Championship Presented by J Golf and went on the win the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G just two months later. It marked her second multi-win season of her eight-year tenure on the LPGA Tour.

A nine-time winner on Tour, Miyazato has distinguished herself as one of the top players in the world. She has continued to prove that this season with a runner-up finish to Stacy Lewis at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup and tied for sixth in Hawaii earlier this year. With top-20 finishes in the last three events, Miyazato hopes to get in contention this week for a successful title defense.

Players to watch this week
Rolex Rankings No. 3 Suzann Pettersen is coming in hot this week after notching her fifth top-3 finish in seven events at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Pettersen, who won her 11th-career victory at the LOTTE LPGA Championship in April, has steadily moved up the Rolex Rankings this season jumping from No. 8 at the beginning of the year to No. 3 after a tie for third at the season’s second major. She is closing in on No. 2 Stacy Lewis and has narrowed the gap to just .31 in points average.

Morgan Pressel also made a statement earlier this month in Pittsford, N.Y. when she was leading the field heading into the final round but couldn’t stave off a Sunday surge from South Korea’s Inbee Park and Catriona Matthew. She finished in a tie for third along with Pettersen. Since her latest win at the 2008 Kapalua LPGA Classic, Pressel has tallied 22 top-10 finishes including four runner-ups. With a solid finish last week there’s no question she’ll be on the radar this week.

Let’s go Hogs!
University of Arkansas alum Stacy Lewis will be a fan-favorite this week as she returns to Hog country. The former Razorback made a name for herself during college as she won 12 collegiate events and was a four-time All-American. She has carried that success to the LPGA Tour has she now has seven victories and a Rolex Player of the Year award to her name. She comes to Arkansas this week with two victories so far this season at the HSBC Women’s Champions and the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. With her return to Arkansas this week, the “Calling of the Hogs” chant on the 17th green will be sure to give her the momentum she needs to get back in the winner’s circle.

 
Rogers gets Rowdy!
This year’s Walmart NW Arkansas LPGA Championship Presented by P&G will feature a revamped 17th green that will make the crowds in Rogers, Ark. go wild. With “stadium-style” grandstands surrounding the shortened par-3, spectators will be able to interact with their LPGA Tour favorites and cheer them on for some fascinating finishes on the “loudest hole in golf.”    

 

Quick facts
June 21 – June 23
Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G
Pinnacle Country Club
Rogers, Arkansas

Field: 144 (142 touring professionals, 2 amateurs)
Par:  36-35, 71
Yardage: 6,389
Purse: $2,000,000
Winner:  $300,000
Format: 54-hole stroke play
Defending champion: Ai Miyazato

TV Times
Golf Channel
June 21 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
June 22 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
June 23 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
All times Eastern

This week’s field information: Wegmans LPGA Championship

2013 LPGA Tour rookies (17)
Chie Arimura    Taylore Karle
Julia Boland Caroline Masson
Katie Burnett Lisa McCloskey
Lauren Doughtie Kayla Mortellaro
Victoria Elizabeth Brooke Pancake
Austin Ernst Nicole Smith
Daniela Iacobelli Marina Stuetz
Felicity Johnson Ayako Uehara
Sara-Maude Juneau  

                                                      

Rolex Rankings
Top 9/10
Top 22/25

2013 LPGA Official Money List
Top 10: 9/10
Top 20: 24/25
Top 50: 48/50

Past Champions
2012    Ai Miyazato                
2011    Yani Tseng                             
2010    Yani Tseng                             
2009    Jiyai Shin                   
2008    Seon Hwa Lee        

    

Press conference & media events schedule
Tuesday, June 18  
3:00 p.m.  Dress For Success – Walmart announces large donation for Dress for Success Foundation
   
Wednesday, June 19  
11 a.m.  Ai Miyazato – 2012 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship winner
12 p.m. Inbee Park – Current World No. 1
Won her third-career major at the 2013 Wegmans LPGA Championship
2 p.m. Lydia Ko – Top Amateur
5:30 p.m. Pantene Beautiful Lengths – Players, caddies and Commissioner Mike Whan will participate in cutting hair for donations to cancer victims
   

Thursday, June 20

 
1:30 p.m. Suzann Pettersen – Rolex Rankings No. 3
11-time champion on Tour
1:45 p.m. Stacy Lewis – Rolex Rankings No. 2
University of Arkansas alum and seven-time champion on Tour
*Times are approximate and subject to change (all times are local in Rogers, Arkansas)

 

Symetra Tour current player and alum factoids

While the Symetra Tour gears-up for its second tournament in a three week stretch at the Four Winds Invitational, the LPGA is preparing to Call the Hogs at this week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G.

Leading the pack of Symetra Tour alums scheduled to compete this week is Road to the LPGA graduate Inbee Park who claimed her seventh career LPGA Tour victory and third major title at the recent Wegmans LPGA Championship. The South Korea native fired rounds of 72-68-68-75 and prevailed in a three-hole sudden death playoff with Catriona Matthew.

Park began her professional golf career on the Symetra Tour in 2006 where she recorded 11 top-10 finishes including runner-up at the CIGNA Chip in For A Cure FUTURES Golf Classic. Park’s standout year landed her third on the season-ending Volvik Race for the Card standings earning her exempt status for the 2007 LPGA season.

Another Symetra Tour alum who posted a solid finish at the Wegmans LPGA Championship is Chella Choi. The South Korean claimed the first-round lead then found herself near the top of the leaderboard throughout the major championship where she finished the event tied for fifth.

Choi competed on the Road to the LPGA in 2008 where she played in 17 events and recorded four top-10 finishes including a tie for second at the Bright House Networks Open.

The current standings 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. Sue Kim of Langley, British Columbia, $31,916; 2. Laura Kueny of Whitehall, Mich., $25,927; 3. Jaclyn Sweeney of Bradenton, Fla., $24,046; 4. Melissa Eaton of Port Shepstone, S. Africa, $21,631; 5. Giulia Molinaro of Treviso, Italy, $19,561; 6. Christine Song of Fullerton, Calif., $19,043; 7. Alena Sharp of Hamilton, Ontario, $18,956; 8. Courtney Massey of Gold Coast, Australia, $17,765; 9. Caroline Westrup of Ahus, Sweden, $14,081; 10. Isabelle Boineau of Marseille, France, $13,188


Topics: Storylines, Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

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