Once again, it’s major time for the LPGA Tour.
The intensity and electricity will ratchet up a notch or two this week as players descend upon Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, N.Y., outside Rochester for the fourth major of the 2014 season, the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Former world No. 1 Inbee Park is in fine form heading into this week’s title defense, losing to rookie Mirim Lee on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff at the Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft on Sunday.
Park and Rolex First-Time Winner Lee are two of a host of top-notch players who will be gunning for a major championship crown this week. Park’s victory last year was her seventh career LPGA win and third major victory, and she enters this week with 10 and four, respectively.
Lee could be a factor if her adrenaline hasn’t worn off, and three-time 2014 winner and world No. 1 Stacy Lewis is made for major championships, so she will have her say as well. Other tournament champions from this season fans can look for on Golf Channel over the weekend include two-time winners Anna Nordqvist, Karrie Webb and Jessica Korda and major champions Lexi Thompson and Mo Martin.
One glaring absence will be two-time 2014 winner and U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie, who is taking three-to-five weeks off to rest an injured index finger on her right hand. LPGA.com posted an injury update about Wie’s status over the weekend.
The champions’ list for the Wegmans LPGA Championship in recent years is evidence of just how global the women’s game has become and how the talent level has risen around the globe. In addition to Park, who hails from South Korea, recent Wegmans champions hail from a variety of countries, including China (Shanshan Feng, 2012), Chinese Taipei (Yani Tseng, 2011, 2008), Sweden (Nordqvist, 2009), Norway (Suzann Pettersen, 2007) and South Korea again (Se Ri Pak, 2006, 2002, 1998).
The LPGA Championship has a rich and storied history that dates back to 1963, and its roster of winners is a Who’s Who of women’s golf. Webb won the event in 2001, and fellow Hall of Famers Annika Sorenstam (2003-05), Juli Inkster (1999-2000), Patty Sheehan (1983-84, 1993), Betsy King (1992), Beth Daniel (1990), Nancy Lopez (1978, 1985, 1989), Pat Bradley (1986), Donna Caponi (1979, 1981), Kathy Whitworth (1967, 1971, 1975), Betsy Rawls (1969) and Mickey Wright (1963) all have their names on the coveted championship trophy.
Past history my not be as important this week since players will be teeing it up on a new host course. The par-72, 6,717-yard Monroe Country Club was designed by the legendary Donald Ross, opened for play in 1924 and underwent a major renovation under the guidance of Gil Hanse in 2007 and 2008.
Known for its food markets, Wegmans is no stranger to women’s golf, and this year’s event will mark the Tour’s 38th consecutive year of having a presence in the Rochester area. Wegmans is one of the country’s largest private companies, a highly successful corporation that is dedicated to donating proceeds from the tournament to United Way’s Graduation is the Goal Fund, which aids evidence-based programs that show significant promise in delivering on the graduation is the goal mission.
This will, however, be the final year for the tournament in the Rochester area and for Wegmans as the title sponsor, as the LPGA and the PGA of America have partnered to change the tournament to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. The tournament will rotate throughout the country like the U.S. Women’s Open on an annual basis.