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Honda LPGA Thailand Preview, Pairings, and More

There's a new Ko in town!

A big congratulations goes out this week to Jin Young Ko for winning the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open. This was Ko's first tournament as an LPGA member, and she made it a memorable one. Ko took the lead at the end of the first round and held it throughout. Her -14 under par score of 274 was three strokes better than runner up (non LPGA member) Hyejin Choi.

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This week the LPGA moves to Thailand for the playing of the Honda LPGA Thailand. Last season brought us close finishes in almost every tournament.....but this was not one of them. Amy Yang's twenty-two under par total of 266 was a new tournament record, and blew away the rest of the field. So Yeon Ryu finished 2nd, five strokes back.

Image result for amy yang wins honda lpga thailand
Amy Yang proudly holds up her 2017 Honda LPGA Thailand trophy.

This will tournament #3 of 33 on this year's LPGA schedule.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Siam Country Club, Pattaya Old Course

Location:  Chonburi, Thailand
Defending Champion:  Amy Yang
Winning Score: 66-67-65-68 = 266 (-22)

Final Field:  69 Players

Par:  36/36 = 72
Yardage:  6,642
Purse:  $1,600,000

My strength of field rating is a very solid 72.5% ( down from  77.5 last year). Forty-five of the top 50 players from the LPGA Priority List, and 35 of the top 50 players from the Rolex Rankings will be in attendance. The field will be led by Shanshan Feng, Sung Hyun Park, So Yeon Ryu, Lexi Thompson, and Anna Nordqvist. Non LPGA stars teeing it up this week include: Ha Neul Kim (#38 in Rolex Rankings), Bo Mee Lee (#60), and Misuzu Narita (#83). The very popular Muni He (who will be playing on the Symetra Tour this year) will be playing as a sponsor invitee.

Players skipping the event include: I.K. Kim, Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen, and Hyo Joo Kim. 

Here are the first round pairings.

Here are the television times:
Thursday Feb 21 - GC 10:00  AM - 2:00AM ET
Friday      Feb 23 - GC 1:00  AM - 5:00AM ET
Saturday  Feb 24 - GC 1:00  AM - 5:00AM ET
Sunday    Feb 25 - GC 1:00  AM - 5:00AM ET     

Players Most likely to win: (Top players in the field)
1- Shanshan Feng - Will need to play well to hang on to her #1 ranking.
2- Sung Hyun Park - Making her 2018 debut. A win would vault her into the #1 position.
3- So Yeon Ryu - Number 3 player in the world can move to the top with a victory.

Players to watch out for: (I'm feeling it this week)
1- Lexi Thompson - Has won here before. A win here could also take her to #1.
2- In Gee Chun - Because she always plays well here.
3- Jin Young Ko - Can she make it two for two?

Longshot Picks: (Not likely, but not impossible)
1- Georgia Hall - Can we have another rookie winner this week?
2- Angel Yin - Will bounce back from her poor showing in Australia.

Other Tidbits:

We have had seven LPGA players shoot a 9 under par 63 on this course. Nobody has shot a 62.

It was a very strong showing for rookies in Australia this weekend. In addition to Jin Young Ko winning the top prize, Hannah Green finished 3rd, Emma Talley 7th, and Georgia Hall 13th.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Jin Young Ko makes the most important move this week jumping up from #20 to #16. Madelene Sagstrom leaps up from #74 to #68, while Hannah Green catapults from #140 to #96 and into my future field ratings. On the downside, Karrie Webb drops 3 spots to #101 and out of my field ratings.

Race to the CME Globe:   (1 million dollars)
Brittany Lincicome and Jin Young Ko are tied for the lead with 500 points apiece. They are followed by Wie-Ling Hsu (337) and Hannah Green (260).

Who's Hot:
Amazingly, no player on the LPGA tour finished in the top ten in both of the first two tournaments. Hannah Green was the most impressive, finishing 11th in the Bahamas and 3rd in Australia.

Who's Not:
Haru Nomura failed to finish better than 40th in her first two starts.

This Week's Trivia Question: 
This will be the 12th year for this tournament. In the previous 11 years, nine different players have won. Who are the two  players to win here twice?

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

Here are the final results:

1 Jessica Korda -25
2 Lexi Thompson -21
2 Moriya Jutanugarn -21
4 Minjee Lee -18
5 Shanshan Feng -17
5 Ariya Jutanugarn -17
7 Jin Young Ko -16
7 Pornanong Phatlum -16
7 Brittany Lincicome -16
7 Brooke Henderson -16
11 Michelle Wie -15
12 Megan Khang -14
13 Charley Hull -13
14 Azahara Munoz -12
14 Austin Ernst -12
14 Nicole Broch Larsen -12
14 Amy Yang -12
14 Nelly Korda -12
19 Anna Nordqvist -11
19 Danielle Kang -11
19 Carlota Ciganda -11
22 Sei Young Kim -10
22 Cristie Kerr -10
22 Sung Hyun Park -10
22 In Gee Chun -10

Be sure to check back here daily for any LPGA news or updates.  They will be posted here at the bottom of this blog. 
Tournament results will be posted here at the end of each round. Links to all Women's Tour scoreboards can be found on the right side of this page 
(or on pull down menu on mobile website).


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