#LPGAGOESHOLLYWOOD FOR HUGEL-AIR PREMIA LA OPEN
The 10th event of the 2019 LPGA season takes the Tour to Los Angeles and Wilshire Country Club for the second playing of the HUGEL-AIR PREMIA LA Open. Nestled in the heart of La La Land, the club features spectacular Southern California views, including a scenic vista of the famed Hollywood sign from the 13th hole.
The inaugural tournament in 2018 saw Moriya Jutanugarn’s long-awaited breakthrough LPGA Tour victory. With younger sister Ariya tearfully waiting off the green, Moriya captured a two-stroke win over Inbee Park and Jin Young Ko. The Thai duo is one of three sets of sisters to win on the LPGA Tour, along with Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam and Jessica and Nelly Korda. Both Jutanugarns and Kordas are competing this week in Los Angeles.
This week’s field boasts 18 of the top 20 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, led by No. 1 Jin Young Ko, No. 2 Sung Hyun Parkand No. 3 Ariya Jutanugarn. Seven of the season’s eight winners are also in the field, including Brooke Henderson, who last week defended her LOTTE Championship title in Hawaii.
FRESH OFF HAWAIIAN DEFENSE, HENDERSON READY FOR LA CHALLENGE
Sunny, 75 degrees, no rain, little wind. This week’s weather forecast for Wilshire Country Club makes 143 of the field’s 144 players very happy. That lone holdout? Brooke Henderson, who last week captured her second consecutive LOTTE Championship win amidst whipping Hawaiian winds.
“I feel like a lot of my wins have also come when the weather is a little bit off, and it's always extremely windy out there,” said Henderson of the Hawaiian weather conditions. “So it just kind of maybe goes in my direction a little bit more.”
Henderson, who did eventually concede that this week’s forecast isn’t a bad thing, hopes to have a better experience at Wilshire than she did in 2018. In the inaugural tournament, the 21-year-old Canadian missed the cut, one of only three times all year she did not reach the weekend. With one win already to her name in 2018, Henderson’s goal of four consecutive years with multiple wins is now easily within reach.
“I think to do that, scoring average is really my main focus. Last year it was under 70; it was 69 point something,” said Henderson, who has averaged 69.64 in her first seven events of 2019. “I think if you can get it under 70 again this year, I'll be putting myself in good positions and hopefully in a lot of final groups.”
FAMILIAR GROUND FOR RYANN O’TOOLE
As the LPGA goes Hollywood this week at Wilshire Country Club, Ryann O’Toole is happy to be back in a place she called home for 10 years. O’Toole grew up in San Clemente, south of Los Angeles, and played collegiate golf as a UCLA Bruin. That tight-knit group of alumnae keeps in close contact, with a group of current and former players meeting up this evening for a team dinner ahead of the tournament.
“It's nice to get back in touch with coaches. They are still the same coach and assistant coach that were there when I was there. Just to have that team bonding is fun,” said O’Toole, who recorded 12 top-10 finishes while at UCLA. “There are so many UCLA girls out here on tour. It's nice just to kind of touch back to our roots and reconnect.
The 32-year-old is no stranger either to Wilshire. During her time as a Bruin, the team would drive out early in the morning to play at this course. “It was always fun to play here,” said O’Toole. “We were here from 7:00 to noon every week, and, you know, just college days. I mean, it feels like so long ago. We would have qualifying out here for tournaments; just there is a lot of memories.”