Park Headlines Field in Phoenix
The Tour makes its U.S. debut this week in Arizona at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, where world No. 4 Sung Hyun Park headlines the field. The 2017 Rookie and Co-Player of the Year will have a chance to make a leap in the Rolex Rankings with the world’s top-3 taking the week off. Park trails world No. 1 Shanshan Feng by a mere .7847 points. The major champion has gotten off to a slow start, relative to her standards, as she looks to pick up her first top-20 of 2018 this week. It’s not unlikely. Park has posted a T13 in her two prior starts in Phoenix, having never carded a round worse than 71.
12 of Top-20
World No. 5 Anna Nordqvist, No. 7 Ariya Jutanugarn, No. 8 In Gee Chun and No. 10 Cristie Kerr make up the top-10 in the field in Phoenix, where 12 of the top-20 in the Rolex Rankings are teeing it up. Nordqvist looks to defend her title in Arizona where she finished two-strokes ahead of Jutanugarn and Chun in 2017. Jutanugarn has had an up and down start to the season, opening with a T54 in the Bahamas followed by top-10s in Australia and Thailand followed by a T16 in her last start in Singapore. Chun has also gotten off to a rocky start as she looks to pick up her first top-20 of the season this week in Arizona.
Nordqvist Looking For Back-to-Back Wins
Arizona is a second home for Swede Anna Nordqvist, who attended Arizona State University. The comfort of playing in front of a hometown crowd propelled her to the winner’s circle last season at Wildfire Golf Club where she carded an incredible course record, 61 on moving day. She finished the week at 25-under par, matching her personal best. The win was the first of two victories for Nordqvist last season as she went on to win the Evian Championship in September for her second major title. This week, Nordqvist is making her third start of the season and looking to notch her first top-10 of the year. But don’t be surprised if she goes back-to-back, as Nordqvist knows what it takes to successfully defend. She went back-to-back in 2015 and 2016 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic where she finished two-strokes shy of a three-peat in 2017.
Wie Fresh off Win
Fresh off her win at the HSBC Women’s World Championship, Michelle Wie looks to continue that momentum this week in the States. Her victory is the latest in a series of successes by the major champion who posted a T11 in her two starts prior to winning in Singapore. As she’s coped with injuries and illnesses over the last several years on Tour, Wie has had mixed success in Phoenix with her best finish coming in a T12 in 2014.
A New Creamer Makes Season Debut
Paula Creamer begins her 14th season on the LPGA Tour this week in Arizona. The major champion last competed at the Evian Championship in September 2017. In France, Creamer suffered a left wrist injury, which required surgery in October, and sidelined her for the remainder of the season. Rehab also kept her out of the first four events of the 2018 season. In an effort to return to the winner’s circle for the first time since 2014, Creamer switched instructors during the off season. After working with David Whelan for more than a decade, she began working with Gary Gilchrist in 2017. After just one year, the pair parted ways and during this off season she began working with Kevin Craggs. Creamer says she’s ‘excited’ to showcase her new swing and return to the competition for the first time in six months.
Golfweek reports Creamer has made additional changes both on and off the golf course, including her equipment and caddie. While she alternated between two caddies throughout 2017, she’ll be working with just one, David Brooker, in 2018. Golfweek also reports that Creamer has split with her husband, Derek Heath, after three years of marriage.