The LPGA returns to the Los Angeles market after a 12-year absence with this week’s debut of the Hugel-JTBC LA Open, set for historic Wilshire Country Club less than three miles from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The women’s tour has not been to Los Angeles since 2005 when the Office Depot Championship was contested at Trump National Golf Club of Los Angeles, ending its five-year run. Annika Sorenstam captured three of those five tournaments, including its 2001 debut at Wilshire.
The LA Open is the first of two new California events for the LPGA – the other being next week’s LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship in San Francisco.
The field this week is loaded with the LPGA’s biggest names and stars, including seven of the top 10 in the Rolex rankings.
As we do each week, here’s a round up of information about what to expect this week in Hollywood.
Tournament: Hugel-JTBC LA Open
Dates: April 19-22, 2018
Where: Los Angeles, Calif.
Course: Wilshire Country Club
Distance: Par 71, 6,450 yards
Architect: Norman Macbeth (1919), Kyle Phillips (2010)
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $225,000
Defending Champion: New Event
Marquee Players: Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Brooke Henderson, Shanshan Feng, Lexi Thompson, Inbee Park, Sung Hyun Park, So Yeon Ryu, Michelle Wie, Pernilla Lindberg, Ariya Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko.
TV AND ONLINE
The Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open is a brand new tournament on the LPGA Tour, making its debut this week as one of two new California events on the 2018 schedule.
The tournament does, however, have bloodlines to the former Office Depot Championship, which appeared on the schedule from 1997 to 2005, and whose winners include a who’s who of yesterday’s stars, including Grace Park, Se Ri Pak, Annika Sorenstam, and Karrie Webb. It was contested at various Los Angeles area golf courses for its final six years under several title sponsors.
Title sponsors for the new edition are Hugel, Inc and JTBC, both Korea-based companies. Hugel is a manufacture of biopharmaceuticals and beauty products, including botox, while JTBC is a cable TV and broadcasting company which includes a golf channel (JTBC Golf).
The field in Hollywood is stacked with big names, including 25 major champions, headlined by four multi-major winners currently ranked in the world’s top 10: two-time winners So Yeon Ryu (No. 5), Cristie Kerr (No. 8), and Anna Nordqvist (No. 9), along with seven-time winner Inbee Park (No. 3).
In addition, all eight of this season’s winners will be teeing it up at Wilshire, including Brittany Lincicome (Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic), Jin Young Ko (ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open), Jessica Korda (Honda LPGA Thailand), Michelle Wie (HSBC Women’s World Championship), Park (Bank of Hope Founders Cup), Eun-Hee Ji (Kia Classic), Pernilla Lindberg (ANA Inspiration), and Brooke Henderson (LOTTE Championship presented by Hershey).
The always-popular Natalie Gulbis, who finished T4 the last time the LPGA played in LA, along with Korean amateur phenom Hae-Ran Ryu, received the two sponsor invites.
TOP 10 FAVORITES
1 Inbee Park 6-1
2 Ariya Jutanugarn 8-1
3 Lexi Thompson 12-1
4 Shanshan Feng 14-1
5 Jessica Korda 16-1
5 Brooke Henderson 16-1
7 Moriya Jutanugarn 20-1
8 Charley Hull 25-10
9 Michelle Wie 25-1
10 Lizette Salas 30-1
10 So Yeon Ryu 30-1
Credits: LPGA Tour Media, Getty Images