Let me start out by giving a big round of applause to Shanshan Feng for winning the Toto Japan Classic. Shanshan’s final round 68 was good enough for her to win the title for the second consecutive year. Ai Suzuki, who bogeyed the final hole, finished in second place two strokes back.This week the LPGA moves to China for the playing of the Blue Bay LPGA. Many of you may remember last year’s nail-biting finish when Minjee Lee’s birdie on the 72nd hole, was enough to defeat a charging Jessica Korda by one stroke. Ariya Jutanugarn finished just one stroke further back. This will be tournament #32 of 33 on this year’s LPGA schedule, and the 5th of five events on the current Asian swing.
Course: Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course
Location: Hainan Island, China
Defending Champion: Minjee Lee
Winning Score: 65-67-73-70 = 275 (-13)
Final Field: 81 players
Par: 36/36 = 72
It will have a Wednesday start (with the time difference it will be Tuesday night in the USA) and finish up on Saturday.
My strength of field rating is 42% (down from 44% last year). The field will be led by the new #1 player in the world, Sung Hyun Park. It will also include current top ten players: Shanshan Feng, Anna Nordqvist, I.K. Kim, and Ariya Jutanugarn. Players skipping the event this week include Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson, In Gee Chun, Sei Young Kim, So Yeon Ryu, Stacy Lewis, and Lexi Thompson.
GC Tues. Nov. 7, 11:00 p.m.- 3:00 a.m. ET
GC Wed. Nov. 8, 11:00 p.m.- 3:00 a.m.
GC Thurs. Nov. 4, 11:00 p.m.- 3:00 a.m. ET
GC Fri. Nov. 5, 11:00 p.m.- 3:00 a.m. ET
I believe all the above broadcasts are scheduled to be shown live.
Players most likely to win: (Top players in the field)
Sung Hyun Park – New #1 may demolish this weak field
Shanshan Feng – Hottest player on tour right now
Anna Nordqvist – Moves into the top five this week in the world rankings
Players to watch out for: (I’m feeling it this week)
I.K. Kim – Biggest surprise this year will be looking for win #4
Minjee Lee – Defending Champion is playing well
Longshot picks: (Not likely, but not impossible)
Jessica Korda – Ideal course for her to break out of her slump
Lizette Salas – Playing her best golf of the year
With just 2 tournaments remaining, both the Player of the Year award and Vare Trophy are still up for grabs. So Yeon Ryu (182 points) leads Sung Hyun Park (148) and Lexi Thompson (147) for the P.O.Y award. Park is the only player of the three who is teeing it up this week. Lexi Thompson (69.147) leads Sung Hyun Park (69.169) for the Vare Trophy. Each winner will receive a Hall of Fame point.
Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Sung Hyun Park takes over the #1 ranking this week by a very slim margin over So Yeon Ryu. Shanshan Feng moves into the #3 spot. Lizette Salas continues her upward surge, moving from #38 to #32. LPGA player Aditi Ashok, who won on the LET this past week, is now part of my field rating as she surges from # 105 to #81.
Race to the CME Globe: (1 million dollars)
Lexi Thompson still leads with 3,304 points. So Yeon Ryu moves into second with 3,064. They are followed by Sung Hyun Park (3,029), Brooke Henderson (2,785), and Shanshan Feng (2,647).
Shanshan Feng has finished 3rd, 2nd, and 1st, in her last 3 starts.
Ariya Jutanugarn has not finished better than 30th in her last 11 starts.
Tony Jesselli is the author of the very popular blog TONY’S LPGA REPORT, which has been covering tour and player news since 2010. Every week Tony reports on the latest news and results from women’s professional golf around the world and previews upcoming tournaments with player news, the strength of field ratings, and TV times. It has earned the reputation as the ‘go-to’ resource for up to date and accurate news about the LPGA.
Images: Courtesy LPGA.com