Players to Watch
Ariya Jutanugarn- The Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings number one has had four weeks to reorient herself after telling LPGA.com, “I have to work on everything. A lot.” Jutanugarn posted back-to-back 75s to finish the Diamond Resort Tournament of Champions, as she had only just started practicing shortly before the season’s opening event. It would surprise no one if she rounded to form in the land down under: as a professional, she’s not finished worse than T7 in this event in her three appearances. Holding 10 career wins at the age of 23, Jutanugarn is still searching for her first LPGA victory in the Eastern Hemisphere in her fifth season as a tour member.
Jin Young Ko- The 2018 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year - she looks to defend her title after winning her opening LPGA career event as a member last year. She’s only the 2nd LPGA rookie in history to win her maiden event, joining Beverly Hanson who won the Eastern Open the year after the LPGA was founded. She’ll be a force to be reckoned with this week, as she showed remarkable consistency last year. The two-time career winner missed only one cut in 25 events and posted 13 top ten finishes along with her victory here. She looks to begin building off of her third best scoring average on the LPGA Tour in 2018.
Lydia Ko- After making her debut at this tournament as an amateur in 2011 at the age of 13, Ko has finished in the top 20 in every appearance except 2017. The 2015 Rolex Player of the year won the tournament that season, and recorded a second place finish in 2016 when the tournament was played at The Grange Golf Club, which is hosting this year. Ko looks to rebound from a disappointing final round in her season debut at the Diamond Resort Tournament of Champions, where she was sitting in the lead after 54 holes after displaying the talent that vaulted her to the no. 1 player in the world in 2015.
“Champagne, I guess.” Celine Boutier on how a French woman celebrates a victory after her first LPGA career victory.
Numbers to Know
141- Number of players in the field
$1.3M- The purse size for the event, with the winner taking $195k.
14- Number of rookies in the field
1- Number of holes in one recorded by the LPGA through two events, with Su Oh dunking it at the 15th hole in her opening round last week. Every hole in one on the LPGA this year results in a $20,000 donation from the CME group to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
AON Risk Reward Challenge Hole
This is a challenging risk-reward par 5 where the green is reachable in two, given a well-placed tee shot. Players must navigate a central fairway bunker off the tee and choose whether to play over, left or right of the sand. Bunkering further down the fairway on the right influences the second shot, requiring players to decide whether to play it safe or go for the green. Bunkers are located on both sides of the green, placing a premium on accuracy if the player is to have a chance at an eagle putt.
About This Week’s Event
Let’s Do It Again- It’s the 8th time the ISPS Handa Australian Open is being played on the LPGA Tour. The Grange Golf Club is the host, sitting at 6,648 yards as a par 72. It hosted the tournament in 2016, where Haru Nomura stormed to victory with a closing 7 under round, birdieing 3 of the final 4 holes to claim victory by three strokes. Nomura carded T5 last week.
Return to the Norm- The first two events of the season featured unique setups: players playing alongside celebrities, and last week with men’s and women’s groups alternating tee times. The ISPS Handa Australian Open will have the field return to standard stroke play, which will be the setup of all LPGA events until the Dow Championship in July.
Where to Watch- Golf Channel will air the opening round Wednesday night from 11:00 PM to 3:00 A.M Thursday. Thursday night will follow the same schedule as the opening round, 11:00 P.M. to 3:00 A.M. The weekend rounds will be broadcast the same times, Friday night from 11:30 P.M. to 3:30 A.M. Saturday, and 11:30 P.M. to 3:30 A.M. Saturday night to Sunday morning.