After an exciting kickoff to the major season at the Chevron Championship in Texas, the LPGA Tour is going to Hollywood for the JM Eagle LA Championship presented by Plastpro and bringing its biggest stars with it. With all six winners from this season and eight of the Rolex Rankings top 10 in the field, this week will be nothing short of a blockbuster event.
With just one hole left to play at the Chevron Championship and three shots back of the lead, Nelly Korda needed to play amazing golf to put herself in contention – which is just what Korda is known for. The American sensation holed a long putt on a down slope from the back of the 18th green for eagle and jumped to 9-under. That putt was enough to earn Korda a solo third place finish and bump her back to the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings, which has been passed back and forth between players like a hot potato over the past year. Korda last held the title after her win at The ANNIKA Driven by Gainbridge at Pelican, but Lydia Ko’s win at the CME Group Tour Championship ousted Korda just a week later. With Ko not in the field this week, Korda will have an opportunity to put up a strong defense of her new ranking. Luckily, Korda has started the 2023 season on a hot streak, carding six top 10 finishes in seven starts. It seems like the 24-year-old is edging closer and closer to a win every week and now would be a great time to break through.
In seven seasons on Tour, world No. 9 Celine Boutier has made quite a name for herself. Her newest moniker is the winningest French player in tour history. Just over a month ago, Boutier vaulted herself into the annals of golf history when she birdied the first playoff hole in a showdown with former Solheim Cup teammate Georgia Hall at the LPGA Drive On Championship. The title was her third win on tour, moving her past Patricia Meunier-Lebouc and Anne-Marie Palli who both won twice. Though it was an exciting win, it was anything but unexpected. Boutier spent most of 2022 in contention and has gotten off to a great start in 2023. She had not finished outside the top 20 since the first event of the season, the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. Last week, Boutier finished T14 at the Chevron Championship with a 4-under 284. It’s safe to say the Frenchwoman is on a roll and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
Inaugural events aren’t really supposed to have defending champions, but if the LA Championship did, it would be Nasa Hataoka. Though the tournament is new to the tour, its venue – the Wilshire Country Club – is anything but. From its inception in 2018 to 2022, the DIO Implant LA Open called the Wilshire Country Club home. That means a LPGA trophy was up for grabs at the club just last season and Hataoka is the player who hoisted that trophy, making her this week’s honorary defending champion. And she will surely be a force to be reckoned with. The 24-year-old won the 2022 LA Open by a whopping 5-strokes having led the tournament wire to wire. Hataoka plays her way into contention at any event, but something about the Wilshire Country Club agrees with Hataoka’s game, which will make her a force to be reckoned with this weekend.