Manulife LPGA Classic fantasy picks

Caroline Masson. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Caroline Masson. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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Manulife LPGA Classic
Lexi Thompson. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports /

Lexi Thompson, Lizette Salas, Suzann Pettersen

1st round tee time: 8:32am

There’s an embarrassment of riches in Group 1.  Ariya Jutanugarn, Lexi Thompson, Shanshan Feng, In Gee Chun, Amy Yang, Brooke Henderson, Suzann Petersen, and Minjee Lee force a choice between some of the hottest players on the Tour right now. Any one of these players would make a good anchor for your Pick-4 team.

I’m waffling between Jutanugarn, Feng, and Thompson.

There’s no doubt in my mind right now that come Sunday afternoon Ariya Jutanugarn will have unseated Lydia Ko from the top of the Rolex Rankings. Ko’s not in the field this week and all Jutanugarn needs to do is make the cut. She hasn’t missed a cut this year and this is the kind of golf course that suits her game, so I think it’s safe to bet that we’ll see her coming home Sunday afternoon. But Jutanugarn’s game is wobbling right now. After a string of top 10 finishes – four, to be precise – she slowed down at the Kingsmill and then again at the Volvik, and she didn’t play last week at the ShopRite.

Shanshan Feng, who’s ranked 2nd by GolfStats (behind Sung Hyun Park, who’s not in the field this week), looks better to me than Jutanugarn for my fantasy team. Feng, who also rested last week, is still coming to the Manulife with a game that’s trending up rather than down and, like Jutanugarn, she has a game that’s very well suited to the course. And Feng has a good history of high finishes with the Manulife.

Lexi Thompson has had an up and down season and for all kinds of reasons she needs to steady her game and get herself ready for the Tour’s second major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.  Thompson knows she needs to shake off that T65 finish at the Volvik and get on with the business of delivering championship-level golf. The Manulife isn’t a regular stop on Thompson’s schedule but like Jutanugarn and Feng, she’s bringing a game that’s uniquely suited to the Whistle Bear track. And she’s bringing a mental game that’s strong and determined. I’m going to depend on Thompson’s unique blend of grit and skill and put her on my team this week.