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ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer Preview, Pairings and More

Before I start with this week's tournament, I want to give a big congratulations to Ariya Jutanugarn for winning the U.S. Women's Open. It sure looked like this one was going to be a snoozefest as Ariya jumped out to a seven stroke lead with nine holes to play. But this is the LPGA (yes I know it's a USGA event) and nothing is ever over until it is actually over. Ariya had a complete meltdown over the final nine holes and wound up in a playoff with the charging Hyo-Joo Kim. It was still tied after the 2 hole aggregate playoff, and then it was off to sudden-death. They parred the first sudden death hole (#14), and when Kim bogeyed the second it was all over. 

For Ariya, it was her tenth LPGA victory and second Major Championship.

Image result for 2018 shoprite classic logo

This week the LPGA moves to the state of New Jersey for the playing of the ShopRite Classic Presented by Acer. This tournament has a long history dating back to 1986 when it was then called the Atlantic City LPGA Classic. Winners of this tournament include: Annika Sorenstam (3 times), Stacy Lewis (twice), Karrie Webb, Ai Miyazato, Se Ri Pak and Cristie Kerr. It was won last year by In-Kyung Kim by 2 strokes over two time defending champion Anna Nordqvist.

Image result for I.K. Kim wins shoprite classic
In-Kyung Kim will try to defend the ShopRite title she won in 2017.

This will be tournament #15 of 33 on the 2018 LPGA schedule.

This is a 54 hole event.

Here are the key details:
Course:  Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Course, Bay Course
Location:  Galloway, NJ.
Defending Champion:  In-Kyung Kim
Winning Score:  66-67-69 = 202 (-11)

Final Field:  144 players

Par:  37/34 = 71
Yardage:  6,177
Purse:  $1,750,000 (an increase of $250,000 from 2017)

My strength of field rating is 48% (down from 59%) last year. Twenty-seven of the top 50 players from the LPGA Priority List, and 21 of the top 50 players from the Rolex Rankings will be teeing it up. The field will be led by top ten ranked players: Shanshan Feng, Sung Hyun Park, I.K. Kim, Minjee Lee, and Jessica Korda. Top players skipping the event this week include: Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson, Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn, So Yeon Ryu, Cristie Kerr, Michelle Wie, Danielle Kang, and Nelly Korda. For an explanation of how I compute my field ratings press here.

The first round pairings have now been posted.

Here are the Television Times:

June 8 -   GC 1:30 PM-3:30 PM ET 
June 9 -   GC 3:00 PM-5:00 PM ET 
June 10 - GC 3:00 PM-5:00 PM ET

Players Most Likely to Win: (Top players in the field)
1- Shanshan Feng - Feng (#4 in Rolex Rankings) is the highest ranked player in the field this week.
2- Sung Hyun Park - Hasn't played well this year but is still ranked #5.
3- I.K. Kim - Defending champion is third highest ranked player in the field this week.

Players to Watch Out For: (I'm feeling it this week)
1- Anna Nordqvist - She has finished in the top three the last four years.
2- Megan Khang - Has three consecutive top 10 finishes.
3- Minjee Lee - Always a threat to win.

Longshot Picks: (Not likely, but not impossible)
1- Emma Talley - Could surprise in this weak field.
2- Stacy Lewis - Not playing well but knows how to win here.
3- Marina Alex - New Jersey girl due to break through.

Other Tidbits:
The U.S. Women's Open was not kind to many of the LPGA stars. Those players failing to make the cut include: Sung Hyun Park, Shanshan Feng, Anna Nordqvist, Stacy Lewis, Amy Yang, Mirim Lee, and Jessica Korda.

How dominant has Ariya Jutanugarn been this season?
1- She is the only multiple winner on tour this season.
2- She has seven top five finishes, no other player has more than four.
3- She has 10 top ten finishes, no other player has more than six.
4- She has earned $1,704,614 in official earnings this year. That is nearly double the amount of Inbee Park's $863,286 which is second place.
5- She has 150 player of the year points. That is nearly double Inbee Park's total of 79 which is second place.
6- She is leading the Race to the CME Globe by a huge amount (see below).
7- Her 1.717 putts per greens in regulations leads the tour.
8- Her scoring average of 69.558 is only topped by Jessica Korda's 69.485.
Lindy Duncan carded an eight over par 13 on the 11th hole during Sunday's round.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
There were several major moves this week. Ariya Jutanugarn makes the most important move, jumping up from #5 to #2. Hyo-Joo Kim skyrockets from #67 to #33. Nelly Korda jumps up from #46 to #38, while Wei-Ling Hsu moves from #74 to #60. Sarah Jane Smith catapults from #97 to #77, while Madelene Sagstrom rises from #86 to #78.

Race to the CME Globe:   (1 million dollars)
Ariya Jutanugarn increases her lead with 2,450 points. She is followed by her sister Moriya Jutanugarn with 1,600 and Inbee Park with 1,598. Minjee Lee (1,509) and Jin Young Ko (1,286) round out the top five.

Who's Hot:
Have I mentioned Ariya Jutanugarn? Nasa Hataoka has four consecutive top ten and six consecutive top twenty finishes.

Who's Not:
Mirim Lee has not seen the weekend in her last four tournaments, nor has Amy Yang in her last three. M.J. Hur has not finished in the top 50 in her last six starts, with three missed cuts.

Hard to Believe Stat of the Week:
Excluding the 36 hole tournament in Texas, the last seven tournaments have been won by players from countries other than the USA or South Korea:
ANA Inspiration - Pernilla Lindberg
Lotte Championship - Brooke Henderson
HUGEL-JTBC Open - Moriya Jutanugarn
LPGA Mediheal - Lydia Ko
Kingsmill Championship - Ariya Jutanugarn
LPGA Volvik Championship - Minjee Lee
U.S. Women's Open Championship - Ariya Jutanugarn
Three of those tournaments have been won by players from Thailand.

This Week's Trivia Question: 
1- What two players hold the course record of -17 under par?
2- What player won this tournament by the largest margin of victory?

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

Here are the final results:

1 Annie Park -16
2 Sakura Yokomine -15
3 Marina Alex -14
4 Sei Young Kim -13
5 Sandra Gal -12
5 Su-Hyun Oh -12
7 Wichanee Meechai -11
7 Ashleigh Buhai -11
7 Mariah Stackhouse -11
10 In Gee Chun -10
10 Beatriz Recari -10
10 Ally McDonald -10
10 Celine Herbin -10
14 Sher. Santiwiwatthanaphong -9
15 Pernilla Lindberg -8
15 Leona Maguire -8
17 P.K. Kongkraphan -7
17 Lauren Kim -7
17 Amy Yang -7
17 Anna Nordqvist -7
17 Mina Harigae -7
17 Jessica Korda -7
17 Lydia Ko -7
17 Shanshan Feng -7
17 In-Kyung Kim -7
17 Christina Kim -7
17 Xi Yu Lin -7

I will be attending this tournament. Check back here later in the week for a photo gallery.

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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