Top Storylines at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic

Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

Inbee Park during the third round.

All eyes on Inbee Park as she goes for fourth consecutive LPGA win
As the LPGA Tour heads north of the U.S. border this week for the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario, all eyes will follow and be set on Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park. The 24-year old South Korean stole worldwide headlines two weeks ago when she captured her third-consecutive major championship of the 2013 season at the U.S. Women’s Open.

Park became just the second player in LPGA Tour history to win the first three majors of a season and the first since Babe Zaharias, who won all three majors the LPGA played in 1950, the Tour’s inaugural season. She will try to etch her name in the history books again in August when she will be the first player, male or female, to play for four-consecutive professional major wins at the RICOH Women’s British Open at St. Andrews.

With her U.S. Women’s Open win at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., Park not only won her third-consecutive major, but earned her third-consecutive LPGA Tour scheduled event. She’s coming off wins at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open and looks to notch her fourth-consecutive win this week in Waterloo.

She would become the first player to earn four-consecutive Tour wins since Lorena Ochoa won four in a row in 2008. LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Nancy Lopez holds the LPGA record with five consecutive victories in tournaments participated in 1978. Annika Sorenstam also accomplished the feat across two seasons in 2004-05.

Park, who has six victories and two additional top 10’s in 13 starts this season, has the stats to back them up as well. She leads the Tour in seven statistical categories including putts per GIR (1.702), putting average (28.43), scoring average (69.674), rounds under par (34) and rounds in the 60’s (25). She also tops the money list ($2,106,827) and is first in Rolex Player of the Year points.     

Lang Defends Title, Eyes Solheim Cup
Brittany Lang became a Rolex First-Time Winner last season at the 2012 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic and returns to Waterloo with high hopes of defending her first LPGA title. Lang, who is in her eighth year on Tour this season, has yet to return to the winner’s circle since her first victory but has been putting on a display of solid play as of late. She’s coming off two top-15 finishes, including a season-best tie for seventh at the U.S. Women’s Open.

With her top-10 finish at Sebonack, Lang moved into the eighth spot in U.S. Solheim Cup Team points. The Texas native will be looking to make her third Solheim Cup appearance next month. The Manulife Financial LPGA Classic is one of three events remaining for U.S. players to earn points toward the 2013 Solheim Cup.

Canadian showcase
Eight LPGA players will compete in front of a native crowd this week in the first of two Canadian stops slated on the Tour’s schedule in 2013. Sara-Maude Juneau, Lorie Kane, Sue Kim, Maude-Aimee LeBlanc, Rebecca-Lee Bentham, Alena Sharp, Jessica Shepley and Stephanie Sherlock will all represent Canada at Grey Silo Golf Course.

In addition to the LPGA Tour members who will play in their home country this week, two emerging young stars earned invitations to tee it up in Waterloo with the world’s best. Jennifer Kirby (Paris, Ontario) will be in the field and is looking to notch her second professional win this week. The University of Alabama product earned a victory in her professional debut last month at the CN Canadian Women’s Tour Quebec event. Kirby was a contributing member of the Crimson Tide’s 2012 NCAA Division I championship when the squad won the school’s first championship in women’s golf.

Brooke Henderson joins Kirby as the second invite this week and the top-ranked amateur in Canada is no stranger to professional events. A Smith Falls, Ontario native, Henderson is coming off a week at Sebonack Golf Club where she made the cut at her first U.S. Women’s Open. She finished tied for 59th. Henderson became the youngest known winner of a professional golf event in June of last year when she shot a two-round total of three-under par 139 at Beloeil Golf Club at the CN Canadian Women’s Tour stop outside of Montreal. She was 14 years, 9 months and 3 days  when she won and her victory earned her a spot in the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open last summer where she became the youngest competitor in the event’s history.

 

Quick facts
July 11- July 14
Manulife Financial LPGA Classic
Grey Silo Golf Course
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Field: 144 (143 touring professionals, 1 amateur)
Par:  36-35, 71
Yardage: 6,330
Purse: $1,300,000
Winner:  $195,000
Format: 72-hole stroke play
Defending champion: Brittany Lang

TV Times
Golf Channel
July 10 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. (Pro-am Show)
July 11 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
July 12 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
July 13 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
July 14 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
All times Eastern

***This week’s field information: Manulife Financial LPGA Classic***

2013 LPGA Tour rookies (19)

Chie Arimura Kelly Jacques
Julia Boland Felicity Johnson
Frances Bondad Sara-Maude Juneau
Katie Burnett Taylore Karle
Lauren Doughtie Sue Kim
Paz Echeverria Lisa McCloskey
Victoria Elizabeth Brooke Pancake
Breanna Elliott Nicole Smith
Austin Ernst Marina Stuetz
Daniela Iacobelli  
   

                                                                                                             

Rolex Rankings
Top 10: 9/10
Top 25: 19/25

2013 LPGA Official Money List
Top 10: 9/10
Top 20: 15/20
Top 50: 43/50

Past Champion
2012    Brittany Lang

Press conference & media events schedule

Tuesday, July 9
1:00 p.m.         Inbee Park – Rolex Rankings No. 1 & winner of first three LPGA Tour major championships in 2013

TBD                Brooke Henderson – sponsor invite; Team Canada amateur team member
                        Jennifer Kirby – sponsor invite; won professional debut last month on CN Canadian Women’s Tour

Wednesday, July 10
1:15 p.m.         Stacy Lewis – Rolex Rankings No. 2 & 2012 Rolex Player of the Year
                        Paula Creamer – Rolex Rankings No. 14 & nine-time LPGA Tour winner
                        Brittany Lang – Manulife Financial LPGA Classic defending champion

*Times are approximate and subject to change (all times are local in Waterloo, Ontario)

 

***Symetra Tour current player and alum factoids***
This week the LPGA Tour heads to Canada for the second-annual Manulife LPGA Classic where several current and former Symetra Tour members are scheduled to compete.

Making the biggest splash on the LPGA Tour as of late has been Inbee Park who continued her stellar streak of tournaments at the prestigious U.S. Women’s Open. The Symetra Tour graduate emerged victorious at the U.S. Women’s Open becoming only the second player in LPGA history to win the first three majors in a season.

Currently ranked No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, Park previously took home the trophy at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Wegmans LPGA Championship. In addition to her three major titles this year, Park has also won the Honda LPGA Thailand 2013, North Texas LPGA Shootout, and Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G.

Park played on the Symetra Tour in 2006 where she utilized it as her very own Road to the LPGA. During her time on the Symetra Tour, Park recorded 11 top-10 finishes, including runner-up at the CIGNA Chip in For A Cure FUTURES Golf Classic, to finish third on the Volvik Race for the Card standings and her LPGA Tour card for the 2007 season.

In addition to Park, current Symetra Tour member and Volvik Race for the Card No. 1 Sue Kim is also scheduled to compete this week. The Langley, British Columbia native claimed her first Symetra Tour victory this season after outlasting a one-hole playoff at the Decatur Forsyth Classic Presented by Tate & Lyle and Decatur Parks District.

Along with her win, Kim has posted a tie for second and tie for third finish, and also leads the Tour in putting average. In her time on the LPGA Tour this year, Kim posted a season-best T34 at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.

This week the Symetra Tour begins its first of a three-week stretch in the Northeast for the Credit Union Challenge in Albany, N.Y. Kim Kaufman is looking to record back-to-back victories after winning the Island Resort Championship in only her third start on the Symetra Tour.

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, $33,693; 2. Cydney Clanton of Concord, N.C., $29,321; 3. Jaclyn Sweeney of Bradenton, Fla., $28,961; 4. Laura Kueny of Whitehall, Mich., $27,604; 5. Melissa Eaton of Port Shepstone, S. Africa, $23,308; 6. Alena Sharp of Hamilton, Ontario, $22,918; 7. Marissa Steen of West Chester, Ohio, $22,281; 8. Marina Alex of Wayne, N.J., $21,835; 9. Kim Kaufman of Clark, S.D. , $20,986; 10. Giulia Molinaro of Treviso, Italy, $19,561

 

Topics: Tournament Preview, Manulife Financial LPGA Classic

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