When it comes to the greatest thrills in golf, it doesn’t get much more exciting than match play.
The nail-biting finishes. The unpredictable shifts in momentum. The upsets.
And for LPGA fans this year, they’ll get the thrill of watching the top golfers in the world go head-to-head not once, not twice, but three times in match play competition over the course of the season.
Every two years, the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown and Solheim Cup offer players a chance to compete in a fun, team-oriented format, but that’s limited to the players and countries eligible to qualify. The Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play presented by MGM Rewards gives members an opportunity to contend in match play each and every season.
Wednesday, the third edition of the Bank of Hope Match Play gets underway at Shadow Creek. The elite club is ranked one of the best venues not just in Nevada but in the nation, and the lush green layout is the perfect desert oasis to host the LPGA’s finest.
In the inaugural event in 2021, Ally Ewing went toe-to-toe with Sophia Popov in the final match in which Ewing won 2 and 1 for her second career victory on the LPGA Tour. And in 2022, Eun-Hee Ji defeated Ayaka Furue 3 and 2 to capture her first win in three years and become the oldest player from the Republic of Korea to win on Tour at the age of 36.
A field of 64 players will be divided into 16 groups with players competing within their group in a round-robin-style competition which begins on Wednesday and continues for three days. The player that earns the most points from their group will advance to the single elimination matches on Saturday. Eight single elimination matches will be held on Saturday morning. Four quarterfinal matches will follow in the afternoon on Saturday. Then, the two semifinal matches will be staged on Sunday morning. The winners of those two matches will compete in the championship match on Sunday afternoon.
Ji headlines the field as the defending champion and is one of several major champions slated to compete in Las Vegas. Two-time major winner Brooke Henderson, the top-ranked player in the field, is returning to Shadow Creek for the first time since 2021. Major winners Jennifer Kupcho, Sei Young Kim, A Lim Kim, Jeongeun Lee6, Anna Nordqvist and Stacy Lewis are also in the field.
Lilia Vu and Andrea Lee return to Las Vegas after dueling in the consolation match at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play in 2022. They used their experience last year at Shadow Creek as a springboard to victory as Lee went on to earn her breakthrough win later in the season at the Portland Classic and Vu has already won twice early in 2023, at the Honda LPGA Thailand and The Chevron Championship.
Las Vegas residents Danielle Kang and Alison Lee, who practice out of Shadow Creek, will also be two players to watch as the LPGA returns to their home course.
Angel Yin, Aditi Ashok and Cheyenne Knight, who have been a fixture on leaderboards this season will be three players to keep an eye on as they look to translate their success in stroke play to match play. Between them, they own six top-10 finishes in recent weeks.
The tournament will also see the return of Linn Grant to the LPGA Tour. She hasn’t competed on American soil since she joined the Tour in 2022 due to her COVID vaccination status. Grant returned to the United States last week to compete in the Ladies European Tour’s Aramco Team Series event in South Florida.
Other notables in the field include Muni He and Yaeeun Hong who received sponsor invitations.
Adding to the intrigue of this year’s event is the introduction of the Players Challenge presented by MGM Resorts International. The NFL’s Davante Adams, Terry McLaurin and Mark Ingram will compete in a nine-hole, two-man scramble that will benefit the Play Like a Girl Foundation. A fourth NFL player has yet to be announced. Coverage of the match will air on Golf Channel in conjunction with the championship match on Sunday
One of the most grueling events on the LPGA Tour schedule begins Wednesday with the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play, where the player who has the stamina to outlast their competition for five days, through seven rounds, and over the course 120 holes will be crowned the champion. And that’s a thrill that’s tough to beat.