Preview of the LPGA Kia Classic
Location: Carlsbad, California
Course: Aviara Golf Club
Distance: 6,558 yards
Defending Champion: Mirim Lee -20
Prize Fund: $1,800,000
Next week sees the first major of the year at the ANA Inspiration. Therefore, the KIA Classic provides the last chance for the players to hone their skills before going into the first major in golf of 2018.
This week sees the return of the best 3 players in the world Shanshan Feng of China, American Lexi Thompson and So Yeon Ryu from South Korea.. There will be 19 of the top-25 players in the Rolex Rankings are in action this week.
Shanshan Feng who has now been world number 1 for 19 weeks has got off to a mixed start. Two top 5 finishes were followed by a 30th in Singapore. She will look to bounce back on US soil in a tournament where she has finished inside the top 10 in the last 2 years.
Lexi Thomposons season is basically a mirror image of Shanshan's start to the season. A 31st in Singapore was preceded with a runners up spot in Thailand and a 6th place in the Bahamas. Back on home soil, she will have the support of the fans.
So Yeon Ryu (above), last years runner up, took her first week off of the season last week. She will look to kick start her season here as she has only finished a best of T7th so far.
Mirim Lee is the defending champion who arrives in California off her first missed cut of the year. However, she arrives positive by her performance last year “I’m really excited because my parents weren’t there last year to watch me win but they’re coming out this year. I think we’ll just do some sightseeing while they’re here,” Lee said. She won last years event by 6 shots after 4 rounds in the 60's. She has not got off to the best start this year with a best of T26th.
South Korean Inbee Park (above) claimed her 19th LPGA victory last week with an impressive 63 on Saturday matched with 4 birdies in a row on the back 9 on Sunday. On top of those wins, the 29 year old has seven majors championships and an Olympic gold medal. A quite amazing achievement at such a young age. She will be strong again this week having finished inside the top 10 in 3 of the last 4 years.
Minjee Lee (above) is back in action this week after 6th place in Singapore and 4th in Thailand. She also won the opening event of the LET season so is in red hot form. CME Race to the Globe leader Jin Young Ko who is now in the world top 20 had her first poor week of the season last weekend finishing 46th. However, previous to that she had not been out of the top 7. They are definitely two inform players on the LPGA at the moment. Minjee Lee is our pick to bring home the title this week.
3 other players to look out for this week due to their form are Marina Alex (below), Michelle Wie and Brittany Lincicome. Marina Alex is coming off a career best finish of T2nd last week. She finished 5th at the Aus open and was let down by a poor last round in Singapore. Alex, has now climbed into 7th in the Race to the Globe. Wie and Lincicome who sit 2nd and 3rd in the Order of Merit have both won this year and look to carry their form on this weekend at the Kia classic.
Lydia Ko, who is the last player on Tour to win the week before a major and go on to win the following week, having won both the 2016 Kia Classic and ANA Inspiration. Every player will be wanting to emulate that stat. Another very tough field and a very tough tournament to call. Should be exiting!
This week- Minjee Lee (Aus)
Brooke Henderson (Cut)
Minjee Lee (6th)
Shanshan Feng (5th)
Brooke Henderson (9th)
Cheyenne Woods (34th)