Sunday, June 18, 2017

Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G Preview, Pairings, and More

A big congratulations goes out to Brooke Henderson for winning the Meijer LPGA Classic. Her final round 66 was good enough to finish 2 strokes better than both Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie. Madelene Sagstrom, Moriya Jutanugarn, and Su Oh all finished one stroke further back in a fourth place tie. As I stated in my preview to the tournament, the course fit Brooke's game to a tee. She has always said she loves park land courses, and she proved it once again. It was the fourth LPGA victory for the 19 year old Henderson.

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This week the LPGA moves to the state of Arkansas for the playing of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G. Last year this tournament was won by Lydia Ko, when she shot a final round sixty-eight to win by 3 strokes over both Morgan Pressel and Candie Kung.

Besides Ko's victory, this tournament has been won by some very big LPGA stars. They Include: Na Yeon Choi, Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, Ai Miyazato, Yani Tseng (twice), and former LPGA star Jiyai Shin.

This tournament is just 54 holes.

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Lydia Ko holds up her 2016 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship trophy.
This will be tournament #16 of 34 on the 2017 LPGA schedule.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Pinnacle Country Club
Location:  Rogers, Arkansas
Defending Champion:  Lydia Ko
Winning Score: 66-62-68 = 196 (-17)

Final Field:  144 players
Par:  36/35 = 71
Yardage:  6,386
Purse: $2,000,000

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The Gatorade 17th hole is considered the loudest hole on the LPGA tour.

My strength of field rating is a middle of the road 69% (down from 72% last year). Forty-one of the top 50 players from the current LPGA Priority List, and 17 of the top 25 players from the Rolex Rankings will be teeing it up. Players skipping this event include: Brooke Henderson, In Gee Chun, Sei Young Kim, Charley Hull, Lexi Thompson, I.K. Kim, and Cristie Kerr.

Here are the first round pairings.

Here are the television times:
June 23 - GC 6:30 PM-8:30 PM ET 
June 24 - GC 5:00 PM-7:00 PM ET 
June 25 - GC 5:00 PM-7:00 PM ET

Players most likely to win: (Top players in the field)
Ariya Jutanugarn - Currently #1 in the world
Lydia Ko - #2, but her A game has not shown up
So Yeon Ryu - #3, and well rested

Players to watch out for: (I'm feeling it this week)
Michelle Wie - She's been knocking at the door
Sung Hyun Park - Because she can't disappear every Sunday can she?

Longshot picks: (Not likely, but not impossible)
Jacqui Concolino - Because she is playing the best golf of her life
Danielle Kang - Overdue
Madelene Sagstrom - Because I want to see how many times I can mention her name this week

Other Tidbits:
Golf Canada Communications announced recently that the 2018 Canadian Pacific Women's Open will be held at the Wascana Country Club in Regina, Saskatchewan. This will be the first time that this championship will be held in the Province of Saskatchewan.

Lexi Thompson moves into the #1 spot on the 2017 LPGA money list. She also leads the tour in scoring average. 

There has not been a repeat winner on the LPGA Tour yet this year. There has been 15 different winners in 15 weeks.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Brooke Henderson moves a couple of spots from #15 to #13, while Michelle Wie continues her surge leaping up from #48 to #33. Moriya Jutanugarn rises up from # 46 to #39, and Madelene Sagstrom now becomes a part of my field ratings, catapulting from #129 all the way up to #95.

Race to the CME Globe:   (1 million dollars)
Ariya Jutanugarn leads with 2,177 points. Lexi Thompson is closing in fast with 2,086. They are followed by So Yeon Ryu (1,695), In Gee Chun (1,515), and Cristie Kerr (1,282).

Who's Hot:
Rookie Madelene Sagstrom has been on quite a run. She finished 7th at the Kingsmill Championship, her final round 65 on Sunday at the ShopRite Classic blew her by 40 players that day, and she tied for 4th this week at the Meijer LPGA Classic. 

Who's Not:
Christina Kim has failed to register a top 30 finish in 13 starts this year. Xi Yu Lin has missed 6 cuts in her last 7 starts. 

This Week's Trivia Question:

Seven players have won LPGA Major Championships as teenagers. How many can you name?

For the answer to this week's trivia question press here.

Update #1 - Ariya Jutanugarn is no longer in the field.
Update #2 - Regina Plasencia (66) and Julieta Granada (67) are the Monday local qualifiers.

Here are the leaders after round 1:

1 Sung Hyun Park -8 F
2 Ally McDonald -6 F
2 Melissa Reid -6 F
2 So Yeon Ryu -6 F
5 Katherine Kirk -5 F
5 Stacy Lewis -5 F
5 Juli Inkster -5 F
5 Moriya Jutanugarn -5 F
5 Felicity Johnson -5 F
10 Lee-Anne Pace -4 F
10 Gerina Piller -4 F
10 Mi Hyang Lee -4 F
10 Austin Ernst -4 F
10 Pornanong Phatlum -4 F
10 Megan Khang -4 F
10 Jeong Eun Lee -4 F
10 Celine Herbin -4  

Be sure to check back here daily for any LPGA news or updates. They will be posted here at the bottom of this blog.  Links to all Women's Tour scoreboards can be found at the top of this page.

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  1. Is there a formula they use to decide which 1st alternates from the 25 qualifiers get selected to fill the remaining spots for the U S Women's Open? It looks like there could be as many as 9 this year. Also, Emily Pedersen has made the most of her limited starts this year.

  2. Par 69?! Methinks the last 2 rounds of the Meijer should not besmirch the Race for the Vare.. and yes, Emily K. moves to #75 in Official Money in 4 events!

  3. Bad move by Emily K. to not play this tournament but congratulations to Mina Harigae! A great final round (62) which moved her into #80 of the official money list. This should secure her the final slot in PL Category 8.