Feng Makes Bahamas Debut
Shanshan Feng kicks off the 2018 LPGA Tour season at the top of the world golf rankings as she enters the season-opening Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic at No. 1 in the world. Feng has held the top spot since the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, making this the 11th consecutive week she has held the top spot. The Olympic bronze medalist is making her first start in the Bahamas where she headlines the field along with four other players ranked within the top-10 in the world: No. 3 So Yeon Ryu, No. 4 Lexi Thompson, No. 5 In-Kyung Kim and No. 8 Ariya Jutanugarn. Ryu and Kim were major champions in 2017 and Thompson nearly won in the Bahamas last season, losing in a playoff to champion Brittany Lincicome. After a rocky 2017 season, Jutanugarn ended the year on a high note with a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship for her second win of the year.
Lincicome Looks to Defend
In 2017, Brittany Lincicome used the Diamond Resorts Invitational, a charity event she competed in two-weeks prior to the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, to launch her into the season with a win. The two-time major champion defeated Lexi Thompson in a playoff to capture the 2017 season opener for her only win of the year. Lincicome could easily repeat this year, having once again teed it up in the Diamond Resorts Invitational two weeks ago in Orlando, Florida. Each year she treats the event as a tune-up, which allowed her to evaluate the state of her game before the season gets started. Lincicome bounced back from an opening round 76 with rounds of 70 – 71 to finish 22nd at the Diamond Resorts Invitational. While she isn’t a player who likes to spend much time practicing, she planned to put in a few rounds before teeing it up in the Bahamas.
Momentum on Mo's Side in 2018
There’s just one player ranked in the top-25 in the field this week who has yet to win on Tour. No. 22 ranked Moriya Jutanugarn elevated her game in 2017. Motivated by her sister Ariya’s success in 2016, she also began to reap the benefits of the work she’s put in with instructors Gary Gilchrist and Vision 54’s Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott. In 2017, she recorded 11 top-10s and led the tour in birdies with 428, 25 more than second ranked Brooke Henderson. In order to find success this week she’ll need to rely on the same skill that helped her navigate a windy Kingsbarns Golf Links, site of last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, where she put herself in contention heading into the final day before struggling to a final around 75. Wind is in the forecast this weekend at the Ocean Club Golf Course where, in 2017, Jutanugarn finished tied for 16th.
Henderson Riding High on DRI Finish
Rounding out the top-25 in the field this week in the Bahamas are No. 14 Brooke Henderson, No. 15 Amy Yang, No. 16 Stacy Lewis, No. 17 Mirim Lee, No. 20 Danielle Kang and No. 21 Carlota Ciganda.
Henderson arrives in the Bahamas, riding the momentum she found two weeks ago at the Diamond Resorts Invitational. There, the major champion defeated more than half the PGA Tour Champions players in the field with rounds of 66-67-68 to finish solo seventh. The Canadian planned to put in some more practice, but mix in a little fun with a trip to Busch Gardens before heading to the Bahamas. She finished T-21 at this event before going on to win twice on Tour in 2017.