On Thursday during the first round of the 2020 Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio, play was suspended at 4:50 p.m. due to heavy rain. Play resumed at 5:28 p.m. after a 38-minute delay, horns signaled an end to play at 5:51 p.m. due to darkness. The first round resumed at 7:10 a.m. on Friday with 12 players left to complete their rounds. The second-round tee times remain the same, and play is underway in Boca Raton.
Before play was called off for the day on Thursday, Florida native Jessica Korda drained a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 9 to take the solo lead at 6-under par. She leads a trio of players at 4-under par, including 2019 Race to the CME Globe Champion Sei Young Kim and 2020 LPGA Tour rookies Yui Kawamoto and Patty Tavatanakit.
“It's beautiful to be able to drive to a tournament; doesn't happen that often, at least in my own car. So yeah, it's been really nice. And I'm staying at home this week, which is even nicer,” said Korda, who now calls Palm Beach Gardens home. “It's kind of weird actually staying at home because I don't really know what to do. It's not like a hotel room where everything is like everything is in its space and you only bring a certain amount of things. All of a sudden I have all these options. I don't really know what to do with that right now, but I'm still trying to prepare the way that I would in the hotel.”
This is the inaugural playing of the event, and Boca Rio is proving to be a tough test as only 26 players were under par for the first round. Only four of those 26 players were bogey-free through their first 18 holes: Patty Tavatanakit (-4), Carlota Ciganda (-3), Jane Park (-2) and Stephanie Meadow (-1).
BOOKS HELP PREPARE PATTY TAVATANAKIT FOR ROOKIE SEASON
A bogey-free, 4-under 68 opening round in the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio from Tour rookie Patty Tavatanakit made it look like a seamless transition from the Symetra Tour where she won three times in 11 starts last year. She will be the first to tell you from a mental standpoint, it has been anything but.
“I’ve been waiting to come out here for three months, since the start of the offseason, which was kind of stressful,” Tavatanakit said after her debut as an LPGA Tour member. “I was a little intimidated by the idea of the LPGA Tour and being out here, the transition from the Symetra Tour and three rounds to just a different environment, everyone takes it seriously out here. After I cut out those thoughts and focused on what I have to do, it has been working pretty well.”
During her time off since the Symetra Tour Championship in early October, Tavatanakit has done a little more work off the course to help prepare for the 2020 campaign. That includes reading more than just a yardage book.
“I read a lot of books, talked to a lot of people about how I should set my mindset going into the year,” said Tavatanakit, currently in a tie for second with two other players. “All that just helped. I read a book called Mindset and really liked that book. It helped me get into that right mindset and be happy. It is not just a golf game or the technical stuff, but it is mental, too.”
To watch an LPGA.com video feature of Tavatanakit, click here: https://www.lpga.com/videos/meet-2020-lpga-tour-rookie-patty-tavatanakit
KAWAMOTO SHINES IN ROOKIE DEBUT
It is hard to miss 2020 LPGA Tour rookie Yui Kawamoto on the course. A sponsored hair ribbon is what she calls her “signature;” her name in Japanese characters translates to “tie.” Along with her knee-high socks, Kawamoto radiated positivity from start to finish and was all smiles as she recorded a 68 in her first round as an LPGA Tour member and sits T2 at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio.
“It's totally different from Japan. I was very excited but also nervous, and I'm really happy that I finished like this today,” said Kawamoto, who ranks No. 60 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. “Becoming LPGA member is one of my big dreams. I've been working hard to be on this stage, so I'm very happy to be here and looking forward to it.”
Kawamoto started her professional career on the JLPGA Step Up (JSU) Tour, winning four times in 2018. She earned one victory on the Japan LPGA (JLPGA) in 2019 along with 10 top-10 finishes, including two runner-up performances. She then appeared at LPGA Q-Series in October, where she finished T9 to earn LPGA Membership.
The 21-year-old does have a friend on Tour to help as she transitions – fellow countrywoman and three-time LPGA Tour winner Nasa Hataoka. Both players went to the same high school for a year, and Kawamoto said she admires Hataoka and what she has done on Tour. “I have huge respect for her and very happy to be able to compete with her, but I feel like I still have a gap between her. So I'll try my best here and prove that I'm an LPGA member,” said Kawamoto.
Even with 54 holes to go in Boca Raton and a whole season in front of her, Kawamoto has her eyes set on her 2020 goals. “My goal is to win, obviously win, and also top‑10 on the [Official Money] List, and to do that I need to play solid golf,” said Kawamoto. “I'll try my best. And I want to play with the top players, too, so that's my goal.”
Rolex Rankings No. 17 Jessica Korda (66)
- Finished T15 at the 2020 season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions
- This is Korda’s 10th season on the LPGA Tour, she has five career victories
- With sister Nelly, is one of three sister duos to both win on the LPGA Tour, along with the Jutanugarns and the Sorenstams
- A two-time U.S. Solheim Cup Team member (2013, 2019) with a 4-2-2 overall record
- Member of Team USA at the 2018 UL International Crown, posting a 2-2-0 record
- 2018 Heather Farr Perseverance Award winner for her comeback from major jaw surgery
Rolex Rankings No. 6 Sei Young Kim (68)
- Finished T7 at the 2020 season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions
- Kim is in her sixth season on the LPGA Tour, she has 10 career wins
- Earned the largest winner’s check in the history of women’s golf, $1.5 million, with a win at the 2019 CME Group Tour Championship, surpassing over $8 million in career earnings
- Represented Republic of Korea in the 2016 Rio Olympics, finishing T25
- Her win at the 2018 Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic set the LPGA’s 72-hole scoring record at 31-under 257, breaking the mark of 27-under 261 held by Annika Sorenstam and Kim herself
- Is a third-degree black belt in taekwondo and her father owned a taekwondo academy in Korea
Rolex Rankings No. 154 Patty Tavatanakit (68)
- 2020 LPGA Tour rookie making her first start as a Member
- Named the 2019 Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year on the Symetra Tour
- First on the Symetra Tour in 2019 in scoring average (69.382), par-4 scoring average (3.931) and par-5 scoring average (4.583)
- Made nine cuts in 11 starts on the Symetra Tour in 2019 with three wins (Donald Ross Classic, Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic, Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge)
- Carded a career-low and an 18-hole tournament scoring record 11-under 61 at the 2019 Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic playing as a sponsor exemption
- Seven-time winner and two-time WGCA First Team All-American at UCLA
- Low amateur at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open (T5)
Rolex Rankings No. 60 Yui Kawamoto (68)
- Kawamoto, 21, is a native of Matsuyama, Japan
- Finished T9 at the 2019 Q-Series to earn LPGA Membership for the 2020 LPGA Tour season
- Has made one previous start on the LPGA Tour, finishing T16 at the 2019 TOTO Japan Classic
- Kawamoto is also a member of the Japan LPGA (JLPGA); she has one career win at the 2019 AXA Ladies Golf Tournament
- She has 12 career top-10 finishes on the JLPGA
- She has four career wins on the JLPGA Step Up Tour
- She turned professional in 2018