March 19, 2014 - Waterloo - Defending champion Hee Young Park, 2012 champion Brittany Lang, world ranked #3 Stacy Lewis, and Canadian up-and-comer Jennifer Kirby, top the list of early commitments for the 2014 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic. The third annual LPGA tournament will be held from June 4 to 8 at Grey Silo Golf Course.
“With such high caliber players committed to compete in the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, fans and spectators are sure to enjoy some outstanding golf,” Marianne Harrison, President and CEO, Manulife Canada. “With the rising strength and popularity of the LPGA and our tournament, we were able to raise the prize money which will continue to attract top-tier players to compete in Waterloo in just a few months.”
Hee Young Park, from South Korea, defeated American Angela Stanford in a three-hole playoff at the 2013 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic to capture her second professional victory. Park birdied the par-5 18th hole four straight times to take the win and earn the $195,000 first-place cheque. Park shot a career-best 61 on the par-71 course to finish the week at 26-under par 258.
”The Canadian fans are so nice. Boys, girls, people of every age, they always cheer for us players and motivate us to play our best,” said Park. “I am excited to come back in June to see everyone again!”
Brittany Lang became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the inaugural Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in 2012, capturing a victory in a four-way, three-hole sudden death playoff. Brittany had a busy year in 2013: 28 events, 22 cuts made, seven top-20 finishes including a season-best tie for seventh at the U.S. Women's Open. Lang competed on her third U.S. Solheim Cup Team and posted a record of 3-1-0.
Manulife Financial recently announced multi-year partnerships with 2013 Women’s British Open Champion Stacy Lewis and Canadian professional Jennifer Kirby. Both Lewis and Kirby will represent Manulife globally during the 2014 LPGA Tour season. Lewis, currently ranked #3 in the Rolex World Rankings, had an extremely successful season, winning three events in 2013, including one Major Championship at the Women’s British Open, contested at the Old Course at St. Andrews. Kirby turned professional following graduation from the University of Alabama in the spring of 2013. That same year, Kirby emerged victorious in her professional debut at the CN Canadian Women’s Tour Quebec, and earned her full 2014 LPGA Tour Card by finishing 5th at the LPGA Q-School qualifying event.
While Park, Lang, Lewis and Kirby are scheduled to play in the tournament, the remaining field is not yet set. Players have until 5 p.m. EST on Tuesday May 27, 2014 to officially commit. A final field will be listed on www.manulifeclassic.ca. “As we get to the end of this cold winter, it is exciting to start talking about the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic and some of the familiar faces we are expecting to see back in Waterloo Region,” Tournament Director Richard Kuypers. “We have the best fans in the world and this year’s event is guaranteed to impress all spectators, new and returning!”
For more information, including ticketing and volunteer opportunities, visit www.manulifeclassic.ca.