Ashleigh Buhai’s name was mentioned several times in last week’s preview. It was no surprise that the reigning AIG Women’s Open winner captured the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer. Combining player skill sets and course previews can be very valuable to the viewer and fan.
From one classic to another, we leave New Jersey for one week and travel to Michigan for the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. Our host venue is Blythefield Country Club in Belmont, a par-72 course that measures 6,556 yards. Blythefield has a unique setup with eight par 4s, five par 5s and five par 3s. This will be the ninth year for this event on the LPGA schedule and many of the recent past champions are all major winners.
In the week leading up to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, don’t be surprised if we find some major contenders come Sunday. The golf course sits on the side of a hill with uneven lies filling the terrain. The field of 144 players will be competing to make the top 65 and ties that will play the weekend. Those who get to play the final 36 holes will fight for a share of the $2.5 million dollar purse and $375,000 winner’s check.
Blythefield’s unique scorecard sets the stage for scoring, and unlike so many other routine professional events, the variety of holes really adds to the entertainment value for the viewer. Most amateurs would see five par 5s and cringe but professional golfers can’t wait to play these kinds of venues! Look at the last three champions of this event: Jennifer Kupcho, Nelly Korda, and Brooke Henderson. Power, power, and more power.
- Par-5 scoring is our first key to being in contention. The players with the best par-5 scoring average on top of the odds board are: Hyo Joo Kim, Charley Hull, Ashleigh Buhai, Xiyu Lin and Kupcho.
The average winning score over the history of this event is 19-under. The field will play 20 par 5s, three of which are under 500 yards. A player will need to bomb it off the tee and take advantage of these holes if they are going to get to 20-under. But, alongside those five par 5s, we have five par 3s.
- Each par 3 starts with a perfect lie and great approach players can separate themselves with so many par-3s on the scorecard. Keep an eye on Kim, Buhai, Nasa Hataoka, Maja Stark and Hae Ran Ryu.
With all the uneven lies on the course, these five tee shots each day will have even more importance. Scoring average is the final key to finishing high up on the leaderboard at the Meijer LPGA Classic. In a race to get to 20-under, we need players who can go low. With a major championship looming, don’t be surprised if some of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship favorites get their game going at Blythefield.
- The scoring average leaders in the Meijer field are Kim, Hull, Buhai, Cheyenne Knight and Hataoka.
Kim is the favorite to win so her name pops a couple of times, but don’t be surprised if Hull or Hataoka give her a run. In fact, there are several players who can go deep in the red in this field. The Meijer LPGA Classic is a perfect lead-in for the KPMG so enjoy the scoring and watch as the field hits it long off the tee. Blythefield is a beautiful setting just outside of Grand Rapids, Mich. and it will be one place that will surely mean more to the champion come Sunday afternoon.
Keith Stewart is an award-winning PGA Professional. He covers the LPGA and PGA Tour for Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, LPGA, and PGA TOUR. If you are looking to raise your golf acumen and love inside information about the game, check out his weekly newsletter called Read The Line.