All eyes on Inbee Park as she goes for fourth consecutive LPGA win
As the LPGA Tour heads north of the U.S. border this week for the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario, all eyes will follow and be set on Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park. The 24-year old South Korean stole worldwide headlines two weeks ago when she captured her third-consecutive major championship of the 2013 season at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Park became just the second player in LPGA Tour history to win the first three majors of a season and the first since Babe Zaharias, who won all three majors the LPGA played in 1950, the Tour’s inaugural season. She will try to etch her name in the history books again in August when she will be the first player, male or female, to play for four-consecutive professional major wins at the RICOH Women’s British Open at St. Andrews.
With her U.S. Women’s Open win at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., Park not only won her third-consecutive major, but earned her third-consecutive LPGA Tour scheduled event. She’s coming off wins at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open and looks to notch her fourth-consecutive win this week in Waterloo.
She would become the first player to earn four-consecutive Tour wins since Lorena Ochoa won four in a row in 2008. LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Nancy Lopez holds the LPGA record with five consecutive victories in tournaments participated in 1978. Annika Sorenstam also accomplished the feat across two seasons in 2004-05.
Park, who has six victories and two additional top 10’s in 13 starts this season, has the stats to back them up as well. She leads the Tour in seven statistical categories including putts per GIR (1.702), putting average (28.43), scoring average (69.674), rounds under par (34) and rounds in the 60’s (25). She also tops the money list ($2,106,827) and is first in Rolex Player of the Year points.
Lang Defends Title, Eyes Solheim Cup
Brittany Lang became a Rolex First-Time Winner last season at the 2012 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic and returns to Waterloo with high hopes of defending her first LPGA title. Lang, who is in her eighth year on Tour this season, has yet to return to the winner’s circle since her first victory but has been putting on a display of solid play as of late. She’s coming off two top-15 finishes, including a season-best tie for seventh at the U.S. Women’s Open.
With her top-10 finish at Sebonack, Lang moved into the eighth spot in U.S. Solheim Cup Team points. The Texas native will be looking to make her third Solheim Cup appearance next month. The Manulife Financial LPGA Classic is one of three events remaining for U.S. players to earn points toward the 2013 Solheim Cup.
Eight LPGA players will compete in front of a native crowd this week in the first of two Canadian stops slated on the Tour’s schedule in 2013. Sara-Maude Juneau, Lorie Kane, Sue Kim, Maude-Aimee LeBlanc, Rebecca-Lee Bentham, Alena Sharp, Jessica Shepley and Stephanie Sherlock will all represent Canada at Grey Silo Golf Course.
In addition to the LPGA Tour members who will play in their home country this week, two emerging young stars earned invitations to tee it up in Waterloo with the world’s best. Jennifer Kirby (Paris, Ontario) will be in the field and is looking to notch her second professional win this week. The University of Alabama product earned a victory in her professional debut last month at the CN Canadian Women’s Tour Quebec event. Kirby was a contributing member of the Crimson Tide’s 2012 NCAA Division I championship when the squad won the school’s first championship in women’s golf.
Brooke Henderson joins Kirby as the second invite this week and the top-ranked amateur in Canada is no stranger to professional events. A Smith Falls, Ontario native, Henderson is coming off a week at Sebonack Golf Club where she made the cut at her first U.S. Women’s Open. She finished tied for 59th. Henderson became the youngest known winner of a professional golf event in June of last year when she shot a two-round total of three-under par 139 at Beloeil Golf Club at the CN Canadian Women’s Tour stop outside of Montreal. She was 14 years, 9 months and 3 days when she won and her victory earned her a spot in the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open last summer where she became the youngest competitor in the event’s history.
July 11- July 14
Manulife Financial LPGA Classic
Grey Silo Golf Course
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Field: 144 (143 touring professionals, 1 amateur)
Par: 36-35, 71
Format: 72-hole stroke play
Defending champion: Brittany Lang
July 105:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. (Pro-am Show)
July 1112:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
July 1212:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
July 132:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
July 142:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
All times Eastern