Week of May 13, 2013
Mobile Bay LPGA Classic
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail
Magnolia Grove, The Crossings
Lewis comes full circle:
Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis returns to Mobile, Ala. to defend the first of four titles she earned last season in 2012. Lewis gets to come full circle this week and can be reminded of how much she has achieved in just one calendar year, dating back to her second-career win at the Crossings at Magnolia Grove. Although it wasn’t her first-career victory, her one-stroke win over Lexi Thompson in southern Alabama last season proved to be her breakout moment. She went on to record three more wins and eight additional top-10 finishes en route to Rolex Player of the Year honors.
The Woodlands, Texas native has kept things rolling in 2013, notching two wins in her first four starts at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore and the RR Donnelley Founders Cup in Phoenix, Ariz. She reached No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings after her second victory and held the spot for four weeks. Current No. 1 Inbee Park will be missing in action this week, setting Lewis up for the perfect opportunity to close in on the top spot. Park sits 1.09 average points over Lewis in the rankings and leaves the door open to the University of Arkansas alum who is trying for her fourth-consecutive top-10 finish and eighth this season. Lewis is coming off a solid performance, finishing in a tie for fifth at the Tour’s last stop at the Kingsmill Championship.
Who to watch for this week:
Rolex Rankings No. 27 Beatriz Recari will look to extend her made-cut streak to 43 this week and notch her second win in 2013. Recari, who won her second-career victory at the 2013 Kia Classic, has the chance to move up the rankings on both the money list and in Rolex Player of the Year points. She currently ranks fourth in both categories with $470,111 made this year and has 46 points toward the award that honors the Tour’s top player.
Lexi Thompson loves the state of Alabama and has played some of her best golf in her career on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. She made history in 2011 when she became the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history (since broken by Lydia Ko) with her victory at the Navistar Classic in Prattville. Both of the teenagers’ best finishes last season in 2012 came on the Trail when she recorded runner-up finishes at both the Navistar Classic and the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. She’s had an up-and-down year so far with one top-10 finish in Singapore and is due for a top finish.
Two past champions are also in the field this week and have shown they know how to close out a tournament on the Trail. Angela Stanford (2008) and Maria Hjorth (2011) will play for their second wins in Mobile. Stanford is coming off her second top-5 finish of the season at the Kingsmill Championship where she played solid golf the entire week, carding rounds of 68-68-70-69. The Texas native says she plays well where she’s comfortable, and if she can channel any good memories from 2008 this week, Stanford will be one to watch.
Twenty-nine LPGA Tour rookies will have the chance to make a name for themselves this week, with nine making their debuts as LPGA members. Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn leads the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year race with 269 points with Germany’s Caroline Masson trailing at No. 2 with 128 points.
Back for more:
Bradenton, Fla. native Jessica Korda returns to action this week after a two-week break while treating a wrist injury sustained from hitting a metal pipe in the final round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship presented by J Golf. Korda, who missed the Tour’s last stop in Williamsburg, Va. at the Kingsmill Championship, was playing some of the most solid golf out of the LPGA’s American contingent and will try to add on to her three top-6 finishes this year. The 20-year-old and winner of the 2012 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open currently ranks seventh in U.S. Solheim Cup points and will be playing the next nine events with every intention on securing a spot on the U.S. squad. The top eight players will qualify by points, two spots will be given to the highest ranked in the Rolex Rankings not already qualified and two will be selected by U.S. Team Captain Meg Mallon.
Seventeen-year-old Thailand native Ariya Jutanugarn received one of the sponsor exemptions this week and will be playing in her fifth LPGA Tour event this season. Jutanugarn, who is a rookie on the Ladies European Tour, has made the most of her LPGA appearances so far and has yet to finish worse than fourth place.
Jutanugarn will be playing on her fourth sponsor exemption, having Monday qualified for the LPGA LOTTE Championship in Hawaii. She can accept two more exemptions this season to fill out the maximum of six invitations per year. But the Thai teen won’t be missing out on golf’s biggest stages. Jutanugarn has already earned her way into the fields of the Tour’s four remaining majors based on each event’s criteria. Based on her first professional win at the LET”s Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco, Jutanugarn earned a spot in the RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian, which will play as a major for the first time this year. She also secured a spot in the Wegmans LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open based on her Rolex Ranking, where she currently sits at No. 16.
May 16 – May 19
Mobile Bay LPGA Classic
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Magnolia Grove
Field: 144 (all professionals)
Par: 36-36, 72
Format: 72-hole stroke play
Defending champion: Stacy Lewis
May 16 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
May 17 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
May 18 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
May 19 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
All times Eastern