JOH ENJOYS CAREER WEEK AT THORNBERRY CREEK
While Shanshan Feng took the overall win, this week was just as much of a victory for Tiffany Joh. The season has been a struggle for the nine-year Tour veteran, making just five cuts in her 11 events heading into the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic. Working through a coaching change early in the year, Joh started showing signs of life in her T11 finish four weeks ago at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. This week’s 25-under 263, which shattered her career-best 72-hole score by eight strokes, was a welcome sign that good times are ahead for Joh.
“If you had told me at the beginning of the week I would've gotten like a top 10 I would have been happy about it,” said Joh, who finished tied for third. “There is no regrets. I'm really happy about how I did.”
Joh’s third-place finish is the second-best result of her career, behind only a solo second at the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic.
JUTANUGARN RELIEVED BY GOOD WEEK
After sweeping all the major LPGA award in 2018 and starting 2019 as Rolex Rankings No. 1, this has been a quiet year for Ariya Jutanugarn. Her second-place finish at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic is her best result of the season and while she would have loved to get back to the winner’s circle, she was very happy to have a strong showing in Oneida.
“Overall like my whole week was really good,” said Jutanugarn, who held the lead early before being caught by a surging Shanshan Feng. “It's like amazing because I didn't expect to play that good at all, so I'm really happy about how I played.”
Jutanugarn’s 260 is the lowest 72-hole score of her career, bettering the 265s she shot at the 2016 CP Women’s Open and 2017 Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
YOUNG GUNS TAVATANAKIT AND NOH MAKE WAVES
Two newly minted teen professionals quickly became fan favorites at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic. Patty Tavatanakit, making just her fourth start as a professional, had the golf world on 59 Watch on Sunday. The 19-year-old, who turned pro in late May after two seasons at UCLA, made three eagles on her opening nine to turn at 7-under 29. She added in four more birdies on the back nine to close with a tournament-record 11-under 61.
“This is my fourth event as a professional and seeing some good starts kind of gives me a bit more confidence about my game,” said Tavatanakit, who received a sponsor exemption into the tournament and finished T15. “Obviously I have a lot to work on, especially about my mental game and just kind of being more patient out there. Like my first three rounds I was getting too frustrated for not making putts a lot. Today I decided to let go of the results and see what happened and it came out pretty good.”
Yealimi Noh also gained legions of fans this week after reaching the tournament via the Monday Qualifier. The 17-year-old, just two weeks shy of her 18th birthday, held her own again the best in the world, playing alongside World No. 1 Sung Hyun Park in the final group on Saturday and four-time LPGA winner Amy Yang on Sunday. Her sixth-place finish was a welcome result and a great learning experience, coming in her third-ever LPGA event and first as a professional.
“Yesterday playing with the No. 1 player in the world was a bit nerve wracking, just seeing how composed she was and really like expressionless. Just little things like skill-wise I was really impressed,” said Noh, who passed up a scholarship to UCLA in favor of going pro. “And then I had a really great time with Amy today. Talked a lot. It was all fun.”
Rolex Rankings No. 26 Shanshan Feng (64-67-65-63)
- Her 259 is the lowest 72-hole score of her LPGA Tour career; her previous best was 266 at the 2013 Reignwood LPGA Classic, the 2014 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic and the 2014 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia
- Her final-round 63 is tied for the lowest round of her LPGA Tour career, tied with the third round of the 2008 LPGA State Farm LPGA Classic, the fourth round of the 2014 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and the second round of the 2017 TOTO Japan Classic
- She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 18 of 18 greens, with 27 putts
- Feng is in her 12th season on the LPGA Tour; she has nine career victories, most recently at the 2017 Blue Bay LPGA
- This is Feng’s 15th event of the 2019 season; her best finish is a tie for fourth at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions
- She is competing in her first Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic
- On Nov. 13, 2017, Feng became the first player from the People’s Republic of China, male or female, to be ranked No. 1 in the world, a position she held for 23 weeks
- Won the bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil
Rolex Rankings No. 9 Ariya Jutanugarn (65-64-67-64)
- Her 260 is the lowest 72-hole score of her LPGA Tour career; her previous best was 265 at the 2016 CP Women’s Open and the 2017 Bank of Hope Founders Cup
- She hit 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, with 26 putts
- Jutanugarn is in her fifth season on the LPGA Tour; she has 10 career victories, most recently at the 2018 Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open
- This is Jutanugarn’s 16th event of the 2019 season; her best finish is a tie for third at the LOTTE Championship
- She is competing in her third Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, finishing T15 in 2018 and withdrawing after the first round in 2017
- In 2018, she swept all five major season-ending awards – Rolex Player of the Year, the Vare Trophy, the Money Title, the Race to the CME Globe and the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award
- Has been No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings for a total of 23 weeks, most recently for the week of Feb. 25, 2019
CME GROUP CARES CHALLENGE – SCORE 1 FOR ST. JUDE
The CME Group Cares Challenge is a season-long charitable giving program that turns aces into donations. CME Group will donate $20,000 for each hole-in-one made on the LPGA Tour in 2019, with a minimum guaranteed donation of $500,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Elizabeth Szokol made a hole-in-one on No. 2 from 129 yards at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic. There are now 17 aces recorded this season and a total of $340,000 raised thus far.
LEADERS TOP 10 COMPETITION
The LEADERS Top 10 competition awards a $100,000 bonus to the LPGA player with the most top-10 finishes through the completion of the event held immediately prior to the CME Group Tour Championship. In the event of a tie in total top-10 finishes, the award will go to the player with the most official wins, followed by most second-place finishes, third-place finishes, etc., until the tie is broken.
With a T5 finish at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, Hyo Joo Kim moves into a tie for first with Danielle Kang and Nelly Korda with eight top-10 finishes on the season. Eun-Hee Ji moves into a tie for fourth with Brooke Henderson with a T9 finish and seven top-10 finishes total.Ariya Jutanugarn (2) and Amy Yang (T3) move into a tie for sixth with six.
TOURNAMENT SCORING RECORDS
18 holes: 61 (-11), Patty Tavatanakit (fourth round, 2019)
36 holes: 127 (-17), Sung Hyun Park, 2019
54 holes: 192 (-24), Sei Young Kim, 2018
72 holes: 257 (-31), Sei Young Kim, 2018