LPGA RETURNS TO JAPAN
Two tournaments are all that separates LPGA players and fans from the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla. The LPGA returns to Japan this week for the 44th edition of the TOTO Japan Classic held at Taiheiyo Club Minori Course in Ibaraki.
The 78-player field includes eight of the top 10 players in the world, highlighted by World No. 1 So Yeon Ryu, top-ranked American No. 3 Lexi Thompson, World No. 4 and defending champion Shanshan Feng and World No. 5 In Gee Chun. This week marks the 31st tournament of what has been an exciting 2017 LPGA season, which has seen two Rolex First-Time Winners along with 22 different tournament winners.
Throughout the years, several of the LPGA’s best have captured victories in Japan including; Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley, Betsy King, Annika Sorenstam and seven former champs who are in the field this week including, Shanshan Feng, Mi Hyang Lee and Stacy Lewis.
As in the past, members of the JLPGA have been invited to compete in this year’s event as 35 members, including 2015 champion Sun-Ju Ahn, will be teeing it up among the LPGA’s best.
In 2016, Shanshan Feng (-13) defeated Ha Na Jang by one shot for her second victory in as many weeks. The win was the sixth of her career and brought her season-earnings to that point to $1,416,301. The 2016 edition of the TOTO Japan Classic was the first time the LPGA played in the Tokyo area since 1991
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE TOTO JAPAN CLASSIC
3 - Three players in the history of the event have successfully defended their titles: Annika Sorenstam (2001-2005), Woo-Soon Ko (1994, 1995) and Betsky King (1992, 1993)
7 - Since 2005, winners of the event have represented seven different countries including: China, South Korea, Chinese Taipei, USA, Japan, Australia and Sweden
11 - Playoffs in the history of the event; most recently in 2015 when Sun-Ju Ahn defeated Angela Stanford and Ji-Hee Lee with a birdie on the first extra hole
44 - The TOTO Japan Classic is in its 44th year
63 - Lowest round in tournament history; most recently shot by Sakura Yokomine in the second round in 2011
192 - Lowest 54-hole score (-24), set by Annika Sorenstam in 2003
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DEFENDING CHAMPION SHANSHAN FENG
- In 2017, Feng has made 19 starts on the LPGA with 10 top-10 finishes and a victory at the LPGA Volvik Championship in May
- The TOTO Japan Classic marks her 12th start since her victory at the 2017 LPGA Volvik Championship
- The 2008 rookie has seven career victories to her name including a major championship; she also was the 2016 Bronze medal winner at the Rio Olympics
- Also has six career JLPGA wins and seven career Ladies European Tour victories, including four of the last five Omega Dubai Ladies Masters
- Feng has made five starts at the TOTO Japan Classic, with three top 10 finishes
- In 2016, Feng closed out a remarkable Asian Swing with a 1-shot victory at the TOTO Japan Classic. The win was the sixth of her career and second of the 2016 season. With the win, Feng joined fellow back-to-back 2016 event winners Ariya Jutanugarn and Lydia Ko as she also hoisted the trophy the previous week at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. It marks the first time in her career to win back-to-back tournaments.
- No LPGA players in 2017 have successfully defended their titles yet, but Feng has played historically well when defending a title. At the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia event, Feng’s most recent record is a win in 2014, runner-up in 2015, another victory in 2016 and last week she was again the runner-up.
WHO’S IN THE TOTO JAPAN CLASSIC FIELD
Past TOTO Japan Classic Champions (7):
Shanshan Feng (2016), Sun-Ju Ahn (2015), Mi Hyang Lee (2014), Teresa Lu (2013), Stacy Lewis (2012), Momoko Ueda (2011, 2007), Jiyai Shin (2010, 2008)
2017 Winners (13):
Anna Nordqvist (Bank of Hope Founders Cup, Evian Championship), So Yeon Ryu (ANA Inspiration, Walmart NW Arkansas Championship), Haru Nomura (Volunteers of America Texas Shootout), Sei Young Kim (Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Match Play), Lexi Thompson (Kingsmill Championship, Indy Women in Tech Championship), Shanshan Feng (LPGA Volvik Championship), In-Kyung Kim (ShopRite LPGA Classic, Marathon Classic, Ricoh Women’s British Open), Ariya Jutanugarn(Manulife LPGA Classic), Brooke Henderson (Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open), Danielle Kang (KPMG Women’s PGA Championship), Mi Hyang Lee (Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open), Stacy Lewis (Cambia Portland Classic), Eun-Hee Ji (Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship)
CME GROUP CARES WEEKENDS EAGLES UPDATE
CME Group Cares Weekend is a season-long charitable giving program that turns eagles into donations. For each eagle recorded during weekend play (Saturday and Sunday) throughout the 2017 LPGA Tour season, CME Group donates $1,000 to the program’s total donation count. The money raised will go towards a charitable pool and be split evenly between Wounded Warrior Project® and Bright Pink®.
Players scored nine eagles over the weekend at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, raising another $9,000 for charity. This brings the total to 273 eagles on the year, which translates to $273,000 raised. LPGA rookie Nicole Broch Larsen leads the charitable efforts with 13 eagles, followed by fellow rookie Nelly Korda with 12 eagles.