ALPG star Minjee Lee, winner of last week’s LOTTE Championship presented by HERSHEY said that players will need to bring their complete games to finish well at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in San Francisco this week. The tournament will be held once again at the Lake Merced Golf Club, a course Lee knows well having won the US Junior Girl’s Championship in 2012.
The 19 year old West Australian, known as one of the best ball strikers on the LPGA Tour, understands that she will need to bring her “A” game with her this week to be in contention come the weekend. Speaking about the testing Lake Merced GC layout Lee said “I think it tests every part of your game. Like you got to drive it well, chip and putt really well, if your ball-striking is on then you’re going to have a lot of chances. So, yeah, I think it just tests every part of your game. It’s a great challenge to have. The golf course is fun.”
While Lee will no doubt start as one of the tournament favourites following her impressive victory last week, the player on most people’s radar this week is once again Lydia Ko.
The outstanding Ko won in her previous two starts (Kia Classic, ANA Inspiration) prior to a T23 finish last week at the LOTTE Championship, and seeks to return to her winning ways by capturing her third win of the season at an event she has virtually owned since its inception.
The number one player in the world returns to the site of her first career LPGA Tour victory with the opportunity to become the 11th different player in LPGA history to win the same tournament three years in a row. The last player to accomplish the feat was Inbee Park (KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, 2013-15), who withdrew from Swinging Skirts yesterday with a left thumb injury.
Ko understands the challenges of defending, let alone winning any event, and hopes her game will allow her to put together another solid performance over the next four days.
“For me this week, I’ve just got to enjoy it, have fun,” said Ko. “I know the course is tough, so I’ve just got to play to my game and my strengths. That’s all I can do.”
Players have raved about the course at Lake Merced Golf Club leading into the third staging of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic this week and the defending champion thinks conditions this week will be tougher than the first two years.
“I think Chairman Wang’s plan is to have the final score not to be extremely low,” said Ko. “I think I can see that by the last two years, that the scores were under 10-under par. Not that many events where that kind of happens at the end of Sunday.”
Ko said accuracy off the tee on the tree-lined course will be key.
“I feel like you need to hit a lot of fairways here, especially with the rough growing out a little bit,” said Ko. “I think as the weather gets cooler there is a bit more moisture and that makes it tough. If you don’t hit the fairways with the firm greens they don’t mix very well. You need to hit the fairways and give yourself a lot of opportunities. There are a lot of holes out there where you come off with a par and that’s still a good score.”
Other ALPG players in the field this week are Sarah Kemp, Sarah Jane Smith, Su Oh, who impressively was one of two players to make it through the Monday qualifier this week, and Katherine Kirk who gained a sponsor exemption this week by virtue of being the leading Australian player at the 2016 RACV Ladies Masters,
Round 1 can be seen live on FoxSports 3 tomorrow from 8am AEST, or follow the live scoring at www.lpgascoring.com
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