The LPGA Tour begins a significant stretch of summer tournaments this week at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. The Bay Course at the Seaview Dolce Resort once again plays host to the $1.5 million event and a star-studded field of past champions and global stars. Japan’s Ai Miyazato returns to the site of her fifth career LPGA victory hoping to be the first player in 2011 to successfully defend a title. Miyazato’s two-shot victory over M.J. Hur in 2010 propelled her to Rolex Rankings No. 1, a position she held for 11 weeks throughout last season. Currently No. 7, she joins a cast of characters chasing current No. 1 Yani Tseng this week.
Tseng’s biggest challenger comes in the form of Sybase Match Play Championship winner Suzann Pettersen, currently No. 2 in the Rolex Rankings. Pettersen sits 1.33 average points behind Tseng in the race to be the world’s best and hopes to build off the momentum she created by defeating Cristie Kerr in the final round of Sybase, played two hours north on the Garden State Parkway. Both Kerr and Pettersen teed it up last week at the unofficial money HSBC Brasil Cup, won by Mariajo Uribe. The Columbian will be in the field this week looking to earn her first official LPGA victory.
This week’s field includes past ShopRite LPGA Classic champions Seon Hwa Lee (2006), Kerr (2004), Angela Stanford (2003), Se Ri Pak (1999), and Juli Inkster (1986, 1988), as well as all 2011 LPGA Tour winners.