Combine the hottest player in women’s golf with a new venue and inaugural tournament, and this week could be an extremely special one for the LPGA Tour.
Ariya Jutanugarn enters this week’s LPGA Volvik Championship red-hot and riding a two-event winning streak that she would love to continue at a new and exciting stop for the world’s top women professional golfers. Two weeks ago, Jutanugarn was just another talented player searching for her first LPGA victory.
A stellar weekend helped the Thailand native break through at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic on May 8, and she followed that with another triumph on Sunday at the Kingsmill Championship Presented by JTBC. Jutanugarn joined Ha Na Jang, Lydia Ko and Haru Nomura as two-time winners this season and will square off against Ko, Nomura and a host of other top talent this week in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Other 2016 tournament winners Hyo Joo Kim, Sei Young Kim, Lexi Thompson and Minjee Lee will join Jutanugarn and a star-studded list that includes the likes of top rookie In Gee Chun, stars Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie, Suzann Pettersen and So Yeon Ryu in the stacked field. If that wasn’t enough, fans lucky enough to see the event in person can watch Azahara Munoz, Amy Yang, Brooke Henderson, Yani Tseng and Hall of Famers Laura Davies and Se Ri Pak between the ropes as well.
It will be interesting to see how the world’s best female pros attack the par-72, 6,709-yard Travis Point Country Club this week. Built in 1977 by golf architect Bill Newcomb, the course has become an award-winning multi-sport hub in Ann Arbor.
The picturesque course is no stranger to top-level competition having hosted the PGA Northern Club Professional Championship, Michigan Amateur Championship, Women’s Western Amateur, Women’s Michigan Open and numerous U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open qualifiers.
The first-year event is yet another domestic tournament that has been added to the Tour schedule during Commissioner Mike Whan’s tenure, a top-shelf initiative for the association in recent years. Volvik, a golf ball manufacturing company based in the Republic of Korea, will sponsor the event through 2018.
The $1.3 million tournament gives the LPGA two events in Michigan in 2016, along with the Meijer Classic for Simply Give in Belmont in mid-June. The LPGA Volvik Championship is the second of a grueling 11-week summer stretch for the LPGA that will include three major championships and $23.5 million in prize money.
Golf Channel will give the golfing world a high-definition look at the new locale from 7-9 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday and from 3-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Jutanugarn is attempting to become the first LPGA player to win three consecutive events since Inbee Park completed a summer trifecta in 2013. Will she do it, or will a new star emerge?