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Honda LPGA Thailand Preview, Pairings, and More

A big congratulations goes out to Nelly Korda for winning the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open. Nelly started the final round with a three stroke lead, and increased it to six as she teed off on the 12th hole. It looked like she would win this one easily, but that is never the case at this tournament, which is known for its close finishes. Jin Young Ko went on a back nine birdie run and cut the deficit to two strokes, but would eventually run out of holes. When Nelly birdied the 17th hole it was all but over.

For Korda it was her second career LPGA victory, both coming in her last seven starts.

It took me three tournaments, but I correctly picked the winner and the runner-up in my preview to this event.

Image result for 2019 Honda lpga thailand

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. Jessica Korda took a five stroke lead into the final round and breezed to an easy four shot victory. Her 25 under par score of 263 set a new tournament record.

Image result for Jessica korda wins 2018 honda thailand
Jessica holds her 2018 Honda LPGA Thailand trophy. Her 5th LPGA victory.

This will tournament #4 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:  Jessica Korda
Winning Score: 66-62-68-67 = 263 (-25)

Final Field:  71 Players

Par:  36/36 = 72
Yardage:  6,576
Purse:  $1,600,000
Aon Risk Reward Challenge Hole: #15

My strength of field rating is a very solid 72.5% (exactly the same as last year). Forty-five of the top 50 players from the LPGA Priority List, and 36 of the top 50 players from the Rolex Rankings will be teeing it up. The field rating loses some points because it is a limited field and lacks depth (just 71 players), but this is the strongest field of the year by a wide margin.

The field will be led by top players: Ariya Jutanugarn, Sung Hyun Park, So Yeon Ryu, Lexi Thompson, Nasa Hataoka, Minjee Lee, Jin-Young Ko, and Nelly Korda.Top players not teeing it up this week include: Inbee Park, Jessica Korda (Injury), I.K. Kim, and Jeongeun Lee6 (her Priority List ranking is too high for this limited field). 

Here are the first round pairings.

Here are the television times: (12 hour time differential between East Coast and Thailand)
Wednesday Feb 20 - GC 11:00 PM - 3:00AM ET
Thursday     Feb 21 - GC 11:00 PM - 3:00AM ET
Friday          Feb 22 - GC 11:30 PM - 3:30AM ET
Saturday      Feb 23 - GC 11:30 PM - 3:30AM ET

Players Most Likely to Win: (Top players in the field)
1- Ariya Jutanugarn - Still the top ranked player in the world.
2- Sung Hyun Park - Could take back the top spot with a victory.
3- So Yeon Ryu - Is a threat every time she tees it up.

Players to Watch Out For: (I'm feeling it this week)

1- Nelly Korda - Her sister can't defend her title. So why not keep it in the family?
2- Brooke Henderson - Returns after 2 week absence (illness).
3- Minjee Lee - Underwhelmed during Australian swing. Is overdue.

Longshot Picks: (Not likely, but not impossible)

1- Jodi Ewart Shadoff - Playing the best golf of her life.
2- Angel Yin - If she could only keep her drives on the fairway.
3- Amy Olson - Has come close several times since mid 2018.

Other News:

Jessica Korda, who was originally in the field, has withdrawn due to continued issues with her forearm. She will not be able to defend her title.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:

Nelly Korda breaks into the top ten this week, moving from #16 to #9. In doing so she passes her sister Jessica who sits at #12. Nelly is now the second highest ranked American player, behind only Lexi Thompson. Wei-Ling Hsu jumps up from #69 to #50. Similar to last week, all the other big jumps came from much further down the list. Haru Nomura hurdles from #164 to #125, Sara Kemp leaps from #175 to #146, Alena Sharp catapults from #206 to #160, while Marissa Steen vaults from # 522 to #312. Lauren Stephenson, who jumped up 321 spots last week, climbs past 76 more players, soaring from #492 to #416.

Race to the CME Globe:   (Top 60 point earners are eligible to compete for the $1.5 million first place prize).

Nelly Korda takes the lead this week with 690 points. She is followed by Celine Boutier with 549 and Eun-Hee Ji with 500. Mirim Lee is currently in fourth place with 392 points, followed by Sarah Kemp with 375.

Aon Risk Reward Challenge:   (1 million dollars)

Jaye Marie Green, Maria Torres, and Caroline Masson are currently tied for the lead at -1.50. Mirim Lee and Mi Hyang Lee are next with a score of -1.25.

Who's Hot:

Nelly Korda has third and first place finishes in her only two starts. Haru Nomura is the only other player to have two top five finishes (5th and 4th). Azahara Munoz has finished 6th and 5th in her two starts. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (8th and 8th) and Sarah Kemp (2nd and 10th), are the only other players to register two top ten finishes.

Lauren Stephenson and Charlotte Thomas are the only LPGA rookies to make both cuts at the Vic Open, make the cut at the Australian Open, and have a top ten finish. 

Who's Not:

Pernilla Lindberg, Paula Creamer, and Beatriz Recari are the biggest names that missed the cut in both Australian events. 

This Week's Trivia Question:
Who is the only player to win this tournament in back to back years?

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

Here are the final results:

1 Amy Yang -22
2 Minjee Lee -21
3 Carlota Ciganda -20
4 Jenny Shin -17
5 Eun-Hee Ji -16
6 Brooke Henderson -15
7 Nelly Korda -14
8 Megan Khang -13
9 Danielle Kang -12
10 Cristie Kerr -11
10 Moriya Jutanugarn -11
10 Yu Liu -11
10 Austin Ernst -11
14 Ariya Jutanugarn -10
15 Sandra Gal -9
15 Bronte Law -9
15 Sei Young Kim -9
15 Shanshan Feng -9
19 Lydia Ko -8
19 Katherine Kirk -8
21 Charley Hull -7
21 Sung Hyun Park -7
23 Marina Alex -6
23 Mi Hyang Lee -6
23 Amy Olson -6
23 Angel Yin -6
23 Michelle Wie -6
23 Lizette Salas -6

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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