The LPGA season is to get underway this week at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, with Englishwomen Holly Clyburn making her LPGA debut.
Sei Young Kim Set To Defend
11 of the top 20 players in the Rolex Rankings will tee it up at the season’s first event, the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. No.2 ranked Inbee Park is the top ranked player in the field with world No.1 Lydia Ko electing to begin her year in Ocala. The top ranked American, No.3 Stacy Lewis and No.4 Lexi Thompson are also in the field in the Bahamas as well as No.14 Anna Nordqvist and No.16 Brittany Lincicome.
Amongst those looking to cause an upset is Holly Clyburn from Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire who will make her debut on the LPGA Tour after three solid seasons on the Ladies European Tour.
Whether it’s simply finding a solution for the wind or just the good vibes the islands bring, no one crushed it in paradise more than Sei Young Kim in 2015. Kim posted victories in 2015 at each of the LPGA’s three island stops, winning the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic and LOTTE Championship both in playoffs and then taking down the Blue Bay LPGA in October to conclude a magical rookie season in which she finished fourth on the money list and earned the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award.
Making only her second start as a rookie here a year ago, Kim rebounded from a missed cut the previous week to post rounds of 70-68-72-68. A birdie on the final hole got her into a playoff with Sun Young Yoo and Ariya Jutanugarn and another birdie on the first playoff hole gave her the first of three wins in 2015.
Battle for Olympic Places
The Player and Rookie of the Year awards will not be the only titles up for grabs this year as players look to secure their place at the Olympic games. The most intense battle for a spot at Rio will be to secure a place in South Korea’s elusive four-player team.
Currently, there are seven players in the Rolex Rankings’ top 15 but only four of those will make the Olympics. Inbee Park seems all but a lock but the rest of the spots are up for grabs. So Yeon Ryu, Sei Young Kim and Amy Yang currently make up the final three spots but In Gee Chun and Hyo Joo Kim are in the spots right behind them in the Rolex Rankings at Nos. 9 & 10 respectively and this will surely change between now and this summer.
The Americans have a fierce battle on their hands too. What seemed like a lock that the Americans would have four players guaranteed for the Olympics doesn’t look to be the case anymore. Currently, only three Americans - Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr - would make the Olympics if the cutoff was today with Brittany Lincicome just one spot out of the top 15 guarantee at 16th.
When Brooke Henderson cruised to a dominating eight-shot victory at the Cambia Portland Classic last August, she assured herself LPGA membership. But due to how late in the season she claimed membership, Henderson only was in action in three more events in 2015. This year should be an exciting full-season view of what this uber-talented Canadian prodigy can do.
Henderson not only joined Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson as the only three players to ever win before their 18th birthday, but she also posted two top-five finishes in major championships and held the 54-hole lead at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, which annually has one of the strongest fields in women’s golf. As a result, Henderson’s has already climbed up to 17th in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, and based on her play in 2015, that ascent is just beginning.
Credit- LPGA Tour