Top Storylines from the Honda LPGA Thailand

Inbee Park
Photo Credit: Victor Fraile/Getty Images

Inbee Park of South Korea acknowledges to the crowd on the 17th green during day four of the Honda LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club in Chon Buri, Thailand.

Week of February 17, 2014
Honda LPGA Thailand
Siam Country Club, Pattaya Old Course
Chonburi, Thailand

(Note: Chonburi is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Time Zone)

 

Top Storylines

Inbee Park makes first start in 2014, defends first of six titles
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park will make her first start of the 2014 LPGA Tour season this week in Thailand. With her absence in the first two events on the Tour’s schedule, No. 2 Suzann Pettersen and No. 3 Stacy Lewis got a jump start on chasing Park down for the top spot in the world.

Park will also be managing the enormous expectations of following up her six-win season in 2013 that included three-consecutive major victories. She’ll be defending champion this week after claiming her fourth-career victory at Siam Country Club. Park expects another competitive week with 17 of the world’s top-20 players in action and says her strength on the greens will have to show.

“Siam Country Club has very tough greens so putting will be key,” said Park. “It’s also a tough second-shot golf course. It needs different types of shots around the greens so some creativity will come into play.”

The 25-year old became the first South Korean to earn Rolex Player of the Year honors last season and will aim for a hot start to earn an early spot in the race for the award. The current top-five spots in the Rolex Player of the Year standings are:

Rank Player  Points
1 Karrie Webb 30
  Jessica Korda 30
2 Paula Creamer 18
3 Stacy Lewis 17
4 Lydia Ko 13

                          

Fight for World No. 1 spot heats up
Inbee Park knows she will be playing with a target on her back as the world No. 1 and Suzann Pettersen and Stacy Lewis have made it clear it’s the exact position they’re playing for.  See below the average point difference since the November 25, 2013 rankings following the season-finale CME Group Titleholders and this week’s rankings. Pettersen now trails Park by only .27 average points while Lewis follows by 1.25.

Player Average Pts (Nov. 25, 2013) Average Pts (Feb. 17, 2014)
1. Inbee Park 11.79 9.93
2. Suzann Pettersen 11.08 9.66
3. Stacy Lewis 9.89 8.68

The LPGA Tour’s ‘Big 3’ have stolen many of the headlines over the past year, but it may be 16-year old rookie Lydia Ko who will unseat Park first. The New Zealander has had a seamless transition into becoming a full-time LPGA Tour member after being granted membership by Commissioner Mike Whan last fall.

Ko has opened up her rookie campaign with a tie for seventh at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic and a tie for third at last week’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. It would be no surprise for her to run away with Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors this season, but would be a huge deal for her to be in the running for Player of the Year. The last rookie to win the honor was Nancy Lopez in 1978.

Ariya’s Redemption?
Eighteen-year old Ariya Jutanugarn will return to the site of her heart-breaking finish at last year’s Honda LPGA Thailand when she triple bogeyed the 72nd hole to hand Inbee Park a one-shot victory. The teenager from Thailand was will try to redeem herself in front of her home country and also has something to prove.

It will be Jutanugarn’s first LPGA Tour start since having surgery on her shoulder after sustaining an injury from a fall during a practice round at the Wegmans LPGA Championship last June.

Top Thai talent on display
In addition to Ariya, there will be plenty of talented natives in action this week for the Thai fans to root for. The top-four Thai players in the Rolex Rankings are in the field and the foursome could be a sneak peak to the team that will represent Thailand in the inaugural International Crown in July. No. 30 Pornanong Phatlum, No. 81 and Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Moriya Jutanugarn and No. 111 Thidapa Suwannapura help carry the torch for Thai golf and will all try to become the first woman from Thailand to win on the LPGA Tour.

Quick facts
February 20-23
Honda LPGA Thailand
Siam Country Club, Pattaya Old Course
Chonburi, Thailand

Field: 70 (69 professionals, 1 amateur)
Par:  36-36, 72
Yardage: 6,548
Purse: $1,500,000
Winner:  $225,000
Defending champion: Inbee Park

TV Times
Golf Channel
Feb 20  9:00 a.m. – 12;30 p.m.
Feb 21  9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m..
Feb 22  2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Feb 23  1:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
All times Eastern

***This week’s field information: Honda LPGA Thailand ***

2014 LPGA Tour Rookies (2)
Dani Holmqvist
Lydia Ko

Rolex Rankings
Top 10: 10/10
Top 20: 17/20

2014 LPGA Official Money List
Top 10: 10/10
Top 20: 17/20

Past Champions
2006 Hee-Won Han 2011 Yani Tseng
2007 Suzann Pettersen 2012 Yani Tseng
2009 Lorena Ochoa 2013 Inbee Park
2010 Ai Miyazato    


Press Conference and Media Event Schedule

Tuesday, February 18
3:00 p.m. Tradition Thai Photo Call Siam Country Club
Wednesday, February 19
2:00 p.m. Press Conference – Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen, Stacy Lewis, Lydia Ko Media Center
3:00 p.m. Press Conference – Ariya Jutanugarn, Pornanong Phatlum, Moriya Jutanugarn Media Center

*Times are local in the Chonburi

Topics: Storylines, Honda LPGA Thailand

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