After a week off for the LPGA, the ladies get back in action this week at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. Stacy Lewis will be riding a hot streak into Phoenix after her victory at the HSBC in Singapore. She will be looking to improve her fourth place Rolex Ranking at the Wildfire Golf Club, which is at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa when they tee it up on Thursday morning. Yani Tseng is the defending champion at the $1.5 Million Dollar event which marks the return of the LPGA to American soil.
This will be the third year of this tournament which pays tribute to the 13 founders of the Ladies Professional Golf Association who came together in the late 1940′s.
Players like Patty Berg, Helen Hicks, Opal Hill and Helen Dettweiler had been hired by Wilson Sporting Goods to be staff professionals and traveled around the country to give golf exhibitions and clinics. Through their connections, they were able to secure a purse for their first official LPGA event, the Tampa Open at the Palma Ceia Country Club.
Yani Tseng brings her number one ranking in the Rolex standings to Phoenix, where she won in 2012. She hasn’t had a win in the 2013 season, but has been close. She finished in sole second place at the ISPS Handa in Australia, and a T 3 in Thailand. Her worse finish this year was a T23 at Singapore. She finds herself in fourth place on the money list behind Stacy Lewis who leads that category by almost $100,000 over second place Inbee Park.
The Wildfire Golf Course is a tad over 6500 yards, and plays to a par of 72. It was designed by Arnold Palmer in 2001, and features Bermudagrass overseeded with bentgrass and Poa trivialis greens, and Bermudagrass over-seeded with perennial ryegrass on the fairways.
The 16th hole is really the swing hole on the back nine. A true risk-reward hole, the 314-yard par-4 16th will give you a few options. A lay-up with a mid or long-iron will leave you with a short approach to this well-guarded green. If you try to drive the green from the tee, plenty of deep bunkers await an off-line shot. Scores frequently range from eagle to double-bogey on this short par-4.
This should be a dandy tournament, welcoming the ladies home, and getting them started on the US portion of the schedule. Tseng won here last year with an -18 under par total, so in the right conditions, players can make birdies in bunches. The real challenge here is the undulating greens where birdie opportunities can turn into a nightmare for players getting too aggressive. But if they have the flat stick working, anything can happen.
Follow us on Twitter @ProGolfNow.