This week marks the ninth edition of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give at Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, Mich. which features a 144-player field competing for $2.5 million in prize money. The field includes four past champions of the event, five of the top 10 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, five 2023 LPGA Tour winners and 29 of the 32 total 2023 LPGA Tour rookies. Here’s a look at some of the notable featured groups who will tee it up in the Great Lakes State.
Thursday, 8:10 a.m.*
Brooke Henderson/Charley Hull/Cheyenne Knight
Canada’s Brooke Henderson is the only two-time champion in Meijer LPGA Classic history and needs a huge momentum shift ahead of the season’s second major championship next week. She won the season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in wire-to-wire fashion, but since then has been ice cold, capturing just one top-15 finish, at the LOTTE Championship presented by Hoakalei where she tied for 11th. Despite her recent play, Henderson tends to be a player that turns on the gas when the summer months roll around so be on the lookout for her to play well at Blythefield, especially considering her past history at this venue.
Charley Hull is another player that seems to have cooled off as the 2023 season has continued on. The two-time LPGA Tour winner’s last top-10 finish was a tie for seventh at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Superstition Mountain in March and she hasn’t done a whole lot since, recording three top-25s and missing one cut in her four starts since that week in Arizona. Even though things have been slow for the Englishwoman, Hull is still ranked highly in certain statistical categories, including scoring average where she’s seventh (70.04), rounds under par where she’s 12th (19) and putting average where she’s 15th (28.73).
Cheyenne Knight has consistently been in the mix week in and week out on the LPGA Tour this season and seems more than certain to capture her second career title this season. Knight has missed no cuts and has grabbed five top-15 finishes in nine events this season, including a tie for sixth at the JM Eagle LA Championship presented by Plastpro. She also ranks highly in rounds under par and scoring average, sitting at ninth with 21 total rounds and 10th with an average of 70.25 strokes per round, respectively.
Thursday, 8:21 a.m.*
Stacy Lewis/Leona Maguire/Allisen Corpuz
United States Solheim Cup captain Stacy Lewis is set to tee it up alongside two potential Solheim Cup participants in Allisen Corpuz and Leona Maguire on Thursday at Blythefield Country Club. Corpuz is currently ninth in the standings for the United States and Maguire, who went 4-0-1 in her Solheim debut in 2021, is currently qualified for the European team via her position in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. All three players have had ho-hum 2023 LPGA Tour seasons thus far and will be looking to find some form with the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on deck next week.
Lewis has missed only two cuts and recorded two top-15 finishes this year, a tie for seventh at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Superstition Mountain and a tie for 13th at the JM Eagle LA Championship presented by Plastpro. Corpuz has played similarly to Lewis, missing two cuts and grabbing two top-five finishes, a tie for third at the HSBC Women's World Championship and a tie for fourth at The Chevron Championship.
Maguire has had the best season of the threesome, earning four top 10s in nine starts, including a third-place result at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play presented by MGM Rewards after losing in the semifinals to Ayaka Furue and a tie for sixth at the Honda LPGA Thailand. The Irishwoman also has the best record at the Meijer LPGA Classic compared to her playing partners, finishing runner-up in both 2021 and 2022, her only two starts in the event.
Thursday, 12:59 p.m.
Ashleigh Buhai/Jennifer Kupcho/Lexi Thompson
Group 33 on Thursday in Grand Rapids, Mich. features a trio of major champions in Ashleigh Buhai, Jennifer Kupcho and Lexi Thompson. Buhai became the 10th different winner of the 2023 LPGA Tour season on Sunday at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer, defeating the Republic of Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim by one shot at the Bay Course at Seaview, a Dolce Hotel. Along with her victory, the South African has recorded five additional top-10 finishes in her 10 starts this season, including a solo third at the Cognizant Founders Cup.
Defending champion Jennifer Kupcho became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2022 Meijer LPGA Classic, and this week at Blythefield Country Club marks the second time she will look to defend her title this season. The three-time LPGA Tour winner has had a rough go of it so far in 2023, missing two cuts in 10 starts, including The Chevron Championship, but has begun to see some light at the end of the tunnel, finishing runner-up at the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open, losing in a playoff to eventual champion Rose Zhang.
Lexi Thompson returns to the LPGA Tour this week after a month-long hiatus following a tie for 31st finish at the Cognizant Founders Cup. Thompson is one of four past champions in the Meijer LPGA Classic field, winning the second playing of the event in 2015, and will be looking to course-correct her 2023 season at a place that has good memories for the 28-year-old ahead of next week’s major test at Baltusrol Golf Club.
Thursday, 1:10 p.m.
In Gee Chun/Ayaka Furue/Hannah Green
Reigning KPMG Women’s PGA champion In Gee Chun is also making her return to the LPGA Tour at Blythefield Country Club, stepping away from competition following the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown to rehab a lingering back injury. The four-time Tour winner has not had a great 2023 season, recording just one top-20 finish at The Chevron Championship, missing one cut and withdrawing from the DIO Implant LA Open, and will need to get back in the saddle quickly if she has any hope of defending her title next week in New Jersey.
Japan’s Ayaka Furue has recorded five top-five finishes in 11 starts this season and seems more than due to capture her second LPGA Tour title in as many seasons. According to KPMG Performance Insights, Furue’s putting seems to be the explanation for her stellar play as of late as the 23-year-old is gaining 1.15 strokes per round on the greens, but she also is sixth in driving accuracy at 85.91 percent and ninth in sub-par holes with 131, all categories that lend themselves to low scoring.
We haven’t seen Hannah Green play since she missed the cut at the Cognizant Founders Cup, but with a month off full of rest and relaxation in her native Australia, the 26-year-old will be raring to go, in hot pursuit of another title to go with her JM Eagle LA Championship win that came earlier this season. Besides that victory, there hasn’t been much else to write home about on Green’s 2023 resume, and she will be looking to regain the form that she had in Los Angeles as the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, which Green won in 2019, looms large.
*Starting on 10