With the pairings out for the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, there are plenty of wonderful players to watch in the first three rounds. But one threesome stands out for a variety of reasons:
If you had told anyone in June that Nelly Korda would return to competition after a four-month layoff and be contending for the No.1 spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, you likely would have been laughed out of the room. But that’s where the 24-year-old finds herself as she tees off at Pinnacle Country Club, a golf course where her ball-striking could push her over the top.
Since her return after surgery and therapy for a dangerous blood clot in her left arm, Korda has posted five top-10s, including two runner-up finishes in just eight starts. And with current world No.1, Jin Young Ko, out for several weeks with a wrist injury, we could see a changing of the guard at the top of the Rolex Rankings.
More importantly, should Korda, Ko, and Minjee Lee remain healthy throughout the remainder of the season, this might be a year-end run to rival the best in LPGA Tour history.
Speaking of former world No.1s, the youngest player, man or woman, ever to reach that lofty perch has a few things to say about making a run. With a win way back in January and seven other top-5 finishes afterward, the current No.4 in the Rolex Rankings would love nothing more than to join the conversation again, as well as make another grab at all the year-end marbles. Ko is currently No.3 in the Race to the CME Globe. Having won that title and this championship before, she should certainly be on the early watch list for every fan.
Rounding out this threesome is arguably the best ball-striker in golf at the moment. Ally Ewing is hitting a ridiculous number of greens in regulation. Her GIR average is 77.78% for the season, which translates to 14 per round, and with that statistic, Ewing would lead the PGA Tour and DP World Tour by a healthy clip. She backed up that ball-striking with some commanding putting stats two weeks ago in Cincinnati when Ewing won her third career LPGA Tour title at the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G.
On a golf course where you have to make a lot of birdies and get off to a quick start, it’s always better to choose the player with the hottest hand. Ewing is certainly in that conversation.
The threesome goes off at 8:33 a.m. CT on Friday morning and 1:33 p.m. CT on Saturday afternoon. As good groupings go, this one will be fun to watch.