The LPGA heads north, from Los Angeles to San Francisco, for the second edition of the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship at Lake Merced Golf Club.
The ladies tour made a successful return to San Fran in 2018 as Lydia Ko ended a two-year winless spell at the inaugural edition.
The LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship is the 11th event of the 2019 season, and second of the two-stop California swing.
The field this week is loaded with the LPGA’s biggest names and stars, including seven of the top 10 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
As we do each week, here’s a round up of information about what to expect this week in SF.
Tournament: LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship
Dates: May 2-5, 2019
Where: San Francisco, Calif.
Course: Lake Merced Golf Club
Distance: Par 72, 6,507 yards
Architect: Willie Locke
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $225,000
Defending Champion: Lydia Ko
Marquee Players: Minjee Lee, Brooke M. Henderson, Inbee Park, Shanshan Feng, Lexi Thompson, So Yeon Ryu, Ariya Jutanugarn, Danielle Kang, Jessica Korda, Stacy Lewis, Cristie Kerr, Moriya Jutanugarn
TV AND ONLINE
San Francisco is a favored site for the LPGA, but to this point, the ladies tour has had a tough time establishing a stop that will stick. The hope is that the old saying about the third time being a charm fits with the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship.
In its second year, this is the third attempt since 2006 at trying to establish roots in San Francisco. The first event ran from 2006-10 at Blackhawk Country Club, sponsored first by Longs Drugs, and then CVS, after it purchased Longs in 2008. After losing that title sponsor, the LPGA returned to the Bay Area in 2014, with the debut of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. But after three editions at Lake Merced Golf Club, it too fell off the LPGA schedule.
We now have the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship, with the venue once again being Lake Merced. The course itself has quite a history, having opened as a Willie Locke design in 1923, followed by a redesign by famed architect Alister McKenzie in 1929.
Nearby highway construction forced some rerouting of the golf course by Robert Muir Graves in 1960, and then Rees Jones did work on the layout in 1996.
The title sponsor, MEDIHEAL, is a Korean-based cosmetics company.
2018-19: LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship
2014-16: Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic
2009-10: CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge
2006-07: Longs Drugs Challenge
2018: Lydia Ko -12
2016: Haru Nomura -9
2015: Lydia Ko -8
2014: Lydia Ko -12
Scoring: 276 (-12) Lydia Ko (2014)
Wins: 2 – Lydia Ko (2014-15)
Lydia Ko carded a final-round 71, and then beat Minjee Lee on the first playoff hole to capture the inguinal LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship.
The victory ended a nearly two-year winless streak for the then 21-year old New Zealander, and it happened in a place – Daly City – where she’d won back to back titles in 2014 and 2015 (at the former Swinging Skirts event).
Ko entered the day at 11 under and one clear of the field, but after opening with three bogeys on her first seven holes, the former world No. 1 fell two shots back. Birdies on No. 13, 15 and 18 got Ko into a playoff with Lee, who also made three late gains (Nos. 15, 17 and 18) to reach 12 under.
In the playoff, the two finalists played the par-5 18th, where Ko nearly holed out her second shot for an albatross, leaving herself with a tap-in three-foot eagle for the win.
FINAL TOP 5
1. Lydia Ko -12
2. Minjee Lee -12
3. Angel Yin -8
3. Shanshan Feng -8
3. Charley Hull -8
3. Jessica Korda -8
The field in San Francisco is stacked with big names, including seven of the world’s top-10 ranked players, headlined by last week’s winner, and new No. 2, Minjee Lee. Other top-10 stars in the field include No. 4 Ariya Jutanugarn, No. 6 Inbee Park, No. 7 Brooke Henderson, No. 8 Lexi Thompson, No. 9 So Yeon Ryu, and No. 10 Cartlota Ciganda.
In addition, to Henderson (Lotte Championship) and Lee (HUGEL-AIR Premia LA Open), three additional 2019 winners will be teeing it up at Lake Merced Golf Club this week: Amy Yang (Honda LPGA Thailand), Celine Boutier (ISPS Handa Vic Open), and Eun-Hee Ji (Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champs).
Other top-ranked names include Jessica Korda, Sei Young Kim, Stacy Lewis, I.K. Kim, Charley Hull, Cristie Kerr, Annie Park, Anna Nordqvist, Brittany Lincicome, and Gerina Piller.
FULL FIELD & ODDS
TOP-3 BETTING FAVORITES
Not a huge surprise to see the LPGA’s two most recent winners, Minjee Lee (8-1) and Brooke Henderson (10-1), listed as the top betting favorites this week in San Francisco.
1. Minjee Lee (8-1)
2. Brooke Henderson (10-1)
3. Inbee Park (14-1)
Carey Hoffman contributed to this report.
Credits: LPGA Tour Media, Getty Images