As June begins, the LPGA Tour heads northward for its next stop, with a new world No. 1 leading the way.
The third installment of the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic not only boasts defending champion Hee Young Park among its talented field, but also the Rolex Women’s Golf World Rankings’ new No. 1 Stacy Lewis as well. The four-day, $1.5 million tournament concludes a four-week stretch for the LPGA before Tour players take a week off to prepare for the U.S. Women’s Open, and scores should be low north of the border once again.
Park won last year’s event with a 26-under-par total that included a 10-under 61 at the par-71, 6,330-yard Grey Silo Golf Course in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and anything is possible this year. Could another 59 be in the cards? Why not?
Brittany Lang, the tournament’s 2012 champion, is also teeing it up, along with two-time 2014 champion Anna Nordqvist and tournament winners Lydia Ko and Michelle Wie. Inbee Park, who was supplanted by Lewis for the world’s No. 1 spot after Lewis won in New Jersey on Sunday, will also be there, along with stars Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr and Ai Miyazato, among others.
The win was the 10th of Lewis’ stellar career, and the 2012 Rolex Player of the Year has won two of the last four events, so she should be the player to beat this week. Lewis has 10 top-10 finishes in 12 events this season and is on pace to have a monster year.
The tournament is a top-notch event that saw more than 125,000 spectators visit last year, with a dedicated and successful LPGA sponsor in the form of Manulife Financial leading the way. Manulife is a Canadian-based financial services company with global operations in Canada and Asia and is one of the region’s largest private-sector employers.
On May 5, the company announced a contract extension through 2016, cementing the Tour’s presence in Ontario for years to come. The event is part of the LPGA’s boon in recent years, a growth trend that has seen the Tour reach new heights in popularity and exposure.
Golf fans who love watching birdies fall should be fully entertained this week, and Golf Channel will carry nine hours of coverage of the tournament for those who are not lucky enough to take in the event firsthand.
One talented player will be saying “Oh Canada!” on Sunday, and it should be one heck of an interesting ride to the title.