A New World No. 1 Headlines The Field
Ariya Jutanugarn tops the field at the TOTO Japan Classic as the new Rolex Rankings’ world No. 1 player. Monday, Jutanugarn returned to the top of the rankings for the third time in her career. She took off last week in preparation for the season’s final stretch and is making her fourth appearance in Japan, where she’s finished in the top 10 in two of her previous three starts. Jutanugarn is joined in the field by world No. 3 So Yeon Ryu, who is also making her fourth start in Japan, where she picked up a T3 finish in 2016. World No. 5 Minjee Lee will tee it up again his week, fresh off her third runner-up finish of the season. She has also played well in Japan, where she finished in the top 10 in her last two starts. World No. 7 Lexi Thompson, No. 8 Brooke Henderson, No. 9 Shanshan Feng and No. 10 Jin Young Ko round out the top 10 in the world that will tee it up in Japan.
Third Time’s A Charm?
Back-to-back defending champion Shanshan Feng returns to Japan in search of her third consecutive victory. Feng is also looking to keep her winning streak alive, having won multiple times each of the last two seasons on Tour, she remains in search of her first win of 2018. But the Olympic bronze medalist tends to hit her stride late in the season as 7 of her 9 victories on Tour have come during the latter half of the season. In addition to her two victories in Japan, she has two more top 10 finishes in the event.
Back in Action
Choosing when and where to play is a delicate balance for players as the Tour winds into the final stretch of the season. Those who chose to take off some of the earlier weeks of the Asia swing, like Lexi Thompson and In-Kyung Kim, are back in action this week in Japan. Thompson is making her first start since the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship where she finished 13th. She’s making her fourth appearance in Japan, where she recorded her best finish in a T6 in 2015. Kim has played a limited schedule during this year’s Asia swing, competing in Korea and Shanghai, where she made her last start. She’ll tee it up this week in Japan for the seventh time in her career and twice has finished inside the top 10.
Shin Makes Rare Return to LPGA
The TOTO Japan Classic is a 54-hole event, which is co-sanctioned with the Japan LPGA and makes the field slightly different than an average Tour event. This week, there are 35 members of the JLPGA who are in the field, including Sun-Ju Ahn, the 2015 TOTO Japan Classic champion. Ahn defeated Angela Stanford and Ji Hee Lee in a playoff for her first victory on the LPGA Tour but elected not to take up membership, which she earned with her win. Jiyai Shin, an 11-time winner and 2-time major champion on the LPGA Tour, is also in the field this week.