America’s top-ranked golfer and defending champ at the upcoming JTBC Founders Cup, Stacy Lewis, is warming up for the tourney that opens on March 20 with a girls’ clinic at the JW Mariott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa Wildfire Course. Lewis will be facing a deeply experienced and wildly talented field when she takes the tee, but she’s not thinking about that right now. She’s thinking about the girls who participated in the clinic and about growing the game.
Tourneys Within the Tourney
The Founders Cup will provide the proving ground for a number of contests within the tourney.
Will Norwegian Suzann Pettersen be able to outplay world ranked number one Inbee Park? She’s been trying since last fall and Phoenix may be her best chance yet, although Park is coming in hot from her win at the LET World Ladies Championship, where she left Pattersen eating her dust in the final round. If Park’s putter stays hot she’ll hold off Pettersen again and either Park or Pettersen could send Lewis to the clubhouse chasing the lead.
How will the two teenaged rising stars, Kiwi Lydia Ko and American Lexi Thompson, fare in the contest? Ko’s 210 points ahead of Thompson in Race to the CME Globe and she’s finished inside the top-20 in all four LPGA events this year. Thompson’s early season hasn’t matched her strong finish to the 2013 season. She needs to turn up the heat if she hopes to stay inside the top-10 in the Rolex Rankings and give Ko some real competition.
This likely will be Juli Inkster’s last Founders Cup. The Hall of Famer’s pro career has spanned three decades and includes 31 Tour victories and 148 top-10 finishes. She’s represented the United States in nine Solheim Cups, mentored countless young golfers and plays an heroic game. Inkster will be joined on the playing field by English legend Laura Davies, who rivals Inkster for depth of experience and love of the game. Let’s savor the opportunity to watch this pair ply their trade.
American and Phoenix native Cheyenne Woods, who’s playing on the LET this year, will tee off at the Founders Cup with a sponsor invite. She played a magnificent game at the Australian Ladies Masters last month. Can she pull it out and put it to work again in Phoenix? How will Woods measure up against Danish rookie Line Vedel, who’s just traveled the route Woods is attempting, from the LET to the Symetra to the LPGA Tour.
Golf Channel will provide daily coverage of the Founders Cup, Thursday, March 20 through Sunday, March 23: Thursday and Friday, 6:30-9pm; Saturday and Sunday, 7-pm, all times ET. No sleep adjustments will be necessary for Continental US fans!