The Manulife LPGA Classic field features 24 of the 37 2017 LPGA Tour rookies, the most to tee it up at a tournament this year. The 2017 LPGA player roster features players from 33 countries, the most in Tour history, with 126 active international players.
This season, the LPGA expanded its global representation with the addition of five rookies from new countries: Aditi Ashok (India), Laura Gonzalez Escallon (Belgium), Daniela Darquea (Ecuador), Olafia Kristinsdottir (Iceland) and Krista Puisite (Latvia).
Three of those international rookies - Escallon, Kristinsdottir and Puisite - are in action this week at the 2017 Manulife LPGA Classic.
Kristinsdottir has made nine starts this season, making three cuts and posting a season-best T30 finish at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. Balancing a 12-week tournament stretch and life on Tour can be difficult, but she is starting to feel comfortable, saying, “I think I’m getting more and more used to it.”
“I think it’s been pretty good,” Kristinsdottir added about her life on Tour thus far. “It’s been a learning experience. It’s always tough your first year on any tour. Just adjusting.”
Unlike Kristinsdottir, who you could call a seasoned rookie, Puisite (along with Hannah Burke and Min-G Kim) will be making her LPGA Tour debut this week in Ontario. Her goal is to stay calm, make the Friday cut and play the weekend in her first LPGA tournament.
“I’m pretty nervous,” Puisite said, “but I will call it excited. I’m just looking forward to playing as well as I know I can play and then seeing where that leads me to.”
Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Update
Up for grabs for these Tour rookies at the end of the season is the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award. Leading the chase right now is Sung Hyun Park with 537 points. The following rookies are in competition this week at Whistle Bear Golf Club:
Top Rookies in the Manulife LPGA Classic Field
(Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Points)
|Player||Points (Rank)||Starts||Best Finish|
|Angel Yin||246 (2)||10||T5 (Twice)|
|Laura Gonzalez Escallon||157 (4)||11||T9|
|Emily Pedersen||63 (8)||2||T17|
|Bronte Law||54 (9)||4||T26|
|Nasa Hataoka||35 (T11)||10||T30|
|Nicole Broch Larsen||35 (T11)||5||T30|
Home Sweet Canada
At this first of two 2017 LPGA Tour stops in Canada, fans attending the Manulife LPGA Classic will have plenty of hometown players to root for, with 13 Canadians in the field: Jennifer Ha, Brooke Henderson, Augusta James, Lorie Kane, Jennifer Kirby, Jaclyn Lee, Maude-Aimee LeBlanc, Brittany Marchand, Samantha Richdale, Alena Sharp, Grace St. Germain, Maddie Szeryk and Vivian Tsui.
Kane, a 1996 LPGA Tour rookie, was the second Canadian to have multiple wins on the LPGA circuit in one season, in 2000, after Sandra Post performed the feat twice, in 1978 and 1979. The next Canadian to do so was Brooke Henderson, in 2016.
Alberta native Ha and Ontario native James represent the 2017 Canadian rookies on Tour in the field this week. Ha has nine starts on Tour with one made cut, while James will be looking to make her first LPGA cut in her third start.
12-year Tour veteran Sharp is still searching for that elusive first victory, while World No. 15 Henderson, the top-ranked Canadian, is looking for her fouth win and the first in 26 starts.
“Just always improve, and hopefully improve my best this year.”
- Olafia Kristinsdottir on what her goals are for this week
“Of course anything higher that than would be great.”
- Krista Puisite said after saying her goal would be to finish in the top 50
- Olafia Kristinsdottir became the first Icelandic player to earn an LPGA card when she finished second at the 2016 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority List Category 12 status for the 2017 LPGA Tour season
- In 2016, Kristinsdottir played in seven Ladies European Tour events and finished 96th on the Order of Merit
- Krista Puisite, the 2008, 2011 and 2012 Latvian Amateur champion, turned professional in 2014 and subsequently won her first two events as a professional on the Suncoast Tour
- Puisite started playing golf at age 9, after her father gave her a set of golf clubs for Christmas
- Puisite finished T44 at the 2016 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority List Category 17 status for 2017
- When Brooke Henderson teed it up at last year’s Manulife LPGA Classic, the 2015 LPGA rookie was already a three-time LPGA winner, a major champion and a successful Cambia Portland Classic title defender
- This week marks Henderson’s third appearance at the Manulife LPGA Classic; her best finish is T39 in 2016
- When teeing it up in her home country, Henderson’s best finish came at the 2016 Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, where she finished T14
- The last time a non-American LPGA player won in her home country was South Korean Q Baek at the 2015 LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship
- Rolex Rankings No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn is the only one of the top three ranked players in the world playing in Ontario this week; the point differential between her and No. 1 Lydia Ko is .01 points