The LPGA Tour stays Down Under this week, heading to suburban Adelaide and the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, conducted at Royal Adelaide Golf Club. The star-studded field includes defending champion Nelly Korda, former Rolex Rankings No. 1 players Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu and last week’s ISPS Handa Vic Open champion Hee Young Park, as well as Australian favorites Karrie Webb, Minjee Lee and Hannah Green.
In 2018, Korda took a two-stroke victory over 2018 champion Jin Young Ko at The Grange Golf Club and added a fourth Korda Scissor Kick to the family tradition. Korda’s father, Petr, won the 1998 Australian Open tennis tournament; her older sister, Jessica, won the 2012 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open on the LPGA Tour; and her younger brother, Sebastian, won the 2018 Australian Open junior tennis tournament.
INBEE PARK NOT READY FOR RETIREMENT
Grocery-store runs. That’s what Inbee Park thinks about when the dreaded “retirement” word comes up. With all the travel that comes with life as a professional golfer, it’s the daily routines like shopping for groceries that fall by the wayside.
“I can’t even go to the grocery and buy things because I know it’s all going to go to waste after a week. I’m like, should I go to grocery or should I just get a delivery? I just hate that kind of life,” said Park. “It’s nothing really about golf, losing interest or anything, nothing like that in golf, because the more I play golf, I really feel like I feel more interest in golf, but it’s just the lifestyle is just getting tougher and tougher as the time goes.”
The 31-year-old Korean star might be tempted by life at home but for now, she still feels the game calling her to the course. The challenge of making the Korean Olympic Team pushed Park to compete in the LPGA Tour’s Australian events for the first time since 2012, when she missed the cut at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
The top 15 world-ranked players will be eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players from any given country. As of this week’s Rankings, Park is the sixth eligible player from Korea, behind No. 1 Jin Young Ko, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park, No. 6 Sei Young Kim, No. 9 Jeongeun Lee6 and No. 12 Hyo Joo Kim. There are eight additional Korean players in the top 30 of the Rolex Rankings, so Park not only has to worry about the players ahead of her, but she has to keep an eye on those coming from behind.
“It’s probably tougher than getting a medal in the Olympics to make the team,” said Park, who earned the gold medal in golf’s return to the Olympics after a 100-year absence in 2016. “I probably have to win a couple of times early this season to try to make the team. Maybe one might not do it, I might have to do a couple, which is not easy to do. So, I really driving myself to play well and that’s some kind of a motivation, that really drives me well too.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE ISPS HANDA WOMEN’S AUSTRALIAN OPEN
- The ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open was first conducted in 1974, with the 2020 event marking the tournament’s 29th playing. In 2012, the LPGA Tour joined Golf Australia and the ALPG as a co-sanctioning partner.
- The tournament has been played across Southeastern Australia but is currently in its second three-year rotation in the greater Adelaide area.
- This is the third time the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open will be held at Royal Adelaide Golf Club; Annika Sorenstam won in 1994, while Ha Na Jang took the title in 2017.
- Past Women’s Australian Open champions in this week’s field are Laura Davies (2004, 2009), Haru Nomura (2016), Nelly Korda (2019), Lydia Ko (2015), Jiyai Shin (2013) and Karrie Webb (2000, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2014).
- ISPS Handa was founded by Dr. Haruhisa Handa in 2006 to further the transformative power of sport across the globe and funds and promotes sporting events in archery, bowling, boxing, football, golf, polo, rowing, rugby and swimming with an emphasis on blind and disabled golf.
NELLY KORDA PRIMED FOR AUSTRALIAN TITLE DEFENSE
2019 was a dream season for Nelly Korda. She kicked off her year in February with a victory at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, the second win of her professional career. In June, she earned her best major finish with a tie for third at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, and in September, she went 3-0-1 for Team USA at the Solheim Cup. Finally, in November, she successfully defended her title at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA.
But it all began in Adelaide, when she joined her father, sister and brother as winners Down Under and completed the Korda Slam. The picture is now complete with Petr, Jessica, Sebastian and Nelly all performing the Korda Scissor Kick after reaching the winner’s circle.
“I did get told that holding the trophy, my jump was the best, so I was really happy about that one,” said Korda with a laugh. “Save the best for last.”
Korda comes to Royal Adelaide Golf Club breaking in a brand-new set of irons. After an offseason of hard work in the gym, Korda found her old clubs too weak for her new-found strength during the season’s first two events in Florida. No matter the state of her bag, Korda finds the links-style layout at Royal Adelaide just to her liking.
“The fairways look like carpets, they’re so nice,” said Korda. “Even the greens, it’s definitely a really pure golf course. Yesterday when there was no wind, it was like a golfer’s dream out there.”
NO PRESSURE FOR MINJEE LEE
At last week’s ISPS Handa Vic Open outside Melbourne, Minjee Lee played the role of Proud Big Sister, getting a front-row seat as her younger brother Min Woo Lee won the men’s competition for his first European Tour victory. Now, some 450 miles away in the Adelaide suburbs, Minjee hopes to capitalize on her own sixth-place finish at the Vic Open as she heads into her national championship.
“I feel pretty relaxed this week for some reason. Usually I have a little bit of pressure that I put on myself to perform,” said Lee. “Last week I had a pretty solid week and hopefully I can get some of that form into this week too.”
Lee is competing in her eighth consecutive ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and has yet to miss the cut. Her best finish came at Royal Adelaide in 2017, where she tied for third. Only three Australians have won the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open – Jane Crafter (1997), Jan Stephenson (1977) and Karrie Webb (2000, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2014).
NOTABLE FIRST-ROUND GROUPINGS
Defending champion Nelly Korda will tee off No. 10 at 7:44 a.m., playing with Rolex Rankings No. 9 Jeongeun Lee6 and leading Australian Minjee Lee.
Hee Young Park, who broke a six-year victory drought with her win at last week’s ISPS Handa Vic Open, will tee off No. 1 at 12:34 p.m., alongside Australian major winner Hannah Green and former Rolex Rankings No. 1 Lydia Ko.
Five-time Women’s Australian Open winner Karrie Webb opens her tournament on the 10th tee at 7:55 a.m., playing with fellow Australian Katherine Kirk and major champion Stacy Lewis.
2020 RACE TO THE CME GLOBE CONTINUES AT ISPS HANDA WOMEN’S AUSTRALIAN OPEN
The 2020 Race to the CME Globe continues this week with the ISPS Handa Vic Open. LPGA Tour Members will accumulate points in every Official LPGA Tournament to get into the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship with an equal opportunity to take home a $1.5 million bonus, the biggest prize in women’s golf.
After runner-up finishes at the season’s first two events, Nasa Hataoka leads the Race to the CME Globe standings with 600 points. Madelene Sagstrom, winner of the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio, is second with 551 points, followed by ISPS Handa Vic Open winner Hee Young Park with 508 points.
UL INTERNATIONAL CROWN RANKINGS
As the 2020 season progresses, the UL International Crown standings are taking form in preparation of the prestigious team event at the Centurion Club in London, England. The field of eight countries is determined by the combined Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking of the top four players from each country as of June 1, 2020.
Here are the following countries and players in the UL International Crown rankings as of Feb. 11, 2020:
- Republic of Korea (18 points): Jin Young Ko, Sung Hyun Park, Sei Young Kim, Jeongeun Lee6
- United States (34 points): Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda
- Japan (86 points): Nasa Hataoka, Hinako Shibuno, Ai Suzuki, Mone Inami
- England (185 points): Charley Hull, Bronte Law, Georgia Hall, Jodi Ewart Shadoff
- Australia (200 points): Minjee Lee, Hannah Green, Su Oh, Katherine Kirk
- People’s Republic of China (243 points): Shanshan Feng, Yu Liu, Jing Yan, Xiyu Lin
- Thailand (271 points): Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn, Pornanong Phatlum, Jasmine Suwannapura
- Sweden (437 points): Madelene Sagstrom, Anna Nordqvist, Caroline Hedwall, Linnea Strom
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will showcase female golfers from around the world on a global stage. The field is restricted to 60 players for each of the men’s and women’s competitions. The International Golf Federation (IGF) uses the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings to create the Olympic Golf Rankings.
As of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, 35 countries are represented in the current Olympic Rankings. Rolex Rankings No. 3 Nelly Korda is the leading female athlete in this week’s field, currently sitting as the top member of Team USA. With a tie for 20th at last week’s ISPS Handa Vic Open, Dottie Ardina of the Philippines moved past her countrywoman Clarisse Guce and into the Olympic field. Malaysia’s Kelly Tan also moved into the Olympic field after finishing 40th in Barwon Heads, bumping out Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela.
For more information on the Olympic Women’s Golf Rankings, click here: https://www.igfgolf.org/olympic-games/tokyo-2020/tokyo-2020-qualification-system/tokyo-2020-olympic-golf-rankings/
Tournament: @WomensAusOpen (Twitter and Instagram), #WomensAusOpen
LPGA: @LPGA, @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram)
TV TIMES (all times Eastern)
Wednesday, Feb. 12 to Thursday, Feb. 13 – 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Thursday, Feb. 13 to Friday, Feb. 14 – 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Friday, Feb. 14 to Saturday, Feb. 15 – 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Saturday, Feb. 16 to Sunday, Feb. 17 – 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
WHITELINE PAR AND YARDAGE
37-36—73, 6,633 yards (subject to change through the start of the tournament)