Primer: 2018 LPGA Volvik Championship

Credit: Getty Images/Leon Halip

The LPGA Tour travels from Virginia to Michigan for this week’s LPGA Volvik Championship at Travis Pointe Country Club in the college town of Ann Arbor.

Credit: Getty Images/Leon Halip

The Volvik is the last stop before the season’s first major, the U.S. Women’s Open at Shaol Creek Alabama, so while some of the top stars are taking the week off to rest, the 144-player field includes six of the world’s top-10 ranked players, including the tournament’s only two winners: Shanshan Feng (2017) and Ariya Jutanugarn (2016).

Who will step up and show top form for the final test before the major season kicks off? Last year, Feng rode her momentum from a victory in Ann Arbor to world No. 1, while runner-up Sung Hyun Park went on to win the U.S. Women’s Open en route to capturing Rookie and Player of the Year awards.

Here’s a round up of all you need to know about the week ahead at Travis Pointe.


THE SKINNY

Tournament: LPGA Volvik Championship
Dates: May 24-27, 2018
Where: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Course: Travis Pointe Country Club
Distance: Par 72, 6,734 yards
Architect: Bill Newcomb (1977)
Format: 144 players, 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut (top 70)
Purse: $1,300,000
Winning Share: $195,000
Defending Champion: Shanshan Feng
Marquee Players: Feng, Ariya Jutanugarn, Brittany Lincicome, Jessica Korda, Nelly Korda, Moriya Jutanugarn, Sung Hyun Park, Carly Booth, Jennifer Song, Danielle Kang, Cheyenne Woods, Lizette Salas, Haru Nomura, and Minjee Lee.


TV AND ONLINE

Round 1: Thu 7:00-9:00 pm (GOLF)*
Round 2: Fri 7:00-9:00 pm (GOLF)*
Round 3: Sat 3:00-6:00 pm (GOLF)
Round 4: Sun 3:00-6:00 pm (GOLF)
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* Tape Delay


HISTORY

The LPGA Volvik Championship is three-year old tournament, debuting on the LPGA Tour’s schedule in 2016. It has been contested at Travis Pointe Country Club, southwest of Ann Arbor, since its inception.

Credit: Getty Images/Gregory Shamus

The Michigan-based tournament was the brainchild of tournament director Keith Karbo, who was reportedly at a “crossroads” in his life, and wanted to “make a difference,” mixing charity and his love of golf.

Karbo, who went to work for the PGA Champions Tour’s Farmers Charity Classic in Grand Rapids out of college, always felt Ann Arbor was the perfect spot for a professional golf tournament.

After pitching the idea to local business mentors, and finally the LPGA Tour, Karbo started scouting area courses, and considered TPC of Michigan in Dearborn, Radrick Farms and Barton Hills in Ann Arbor before deciding on Travis Pointe.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Karbo’s wife, Amy, suggested the little-known course after hearing from friends that it had “tons of space for hosting a tour event.”

Once the course was booked, Karbo and the LPGA went to work on a title sponsor, finally coming to terms with Volvik, a South Korean-based manufacturer of colored golf balls.

The first year the event drew over 40,000 spectators.

The inaugural winner was Ariya Jutanugarn who finished at 15 under, five shots clear of the field. Shanshan Feng (-19) captured the second annual event on her way to becoming world No. 1.

SCORING RECORDS

18 holes: 64 (-8) Christina Kim, first round, 2016
36 holes: 132 (-12), Sung Hyun Park, 2017
54 holes: 201 (-15), Shanshan Feng, 2017
72 holes: 269 (-19), Shanshan Feng, 2017

PAST CHAMPIONS

2017: Shanshan Feng (-19)
2016: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15)


DEFENDING CHAMPION

Shanshan Feng posted a 4-under 68 in Sunday’s final round to win the LPGA Volvik Championship by a stroke over Minjee Lee (65) and Sung Hyun Park (66).

Credit: Getty Images/NurPhoto

It was Feng’s seventh career Tour win, and first of the season. The Chinese star finished her four rounds at Travis Pointe Country Club with a 19-under 269 total.

Feng was actually up four shots with four to play but after a bogey on No. 16, coupled with a birdie by Lee on 17, the 27-year-old’s lead had been cut to two with two to play.

She would finish par-bogey and hold on for the one shot victory.

FINAL TOP 5

1 Shanshan Feng -19
2 Minjee Lee -18
2 Sung Hyun Park -18
4 Jeong Eun Lee -17
4 Lizette Salas -17


THE FIELD

The field in Ann Arbor is headlined by the two past winners, who also happen to be two of the top-ranked players in the world: No. 2 Shanshan Feng (2017) and No. 5 Ariya Jutanugarn (2016).

Minjee Lee during the 2017 LPGA Volvik Championship. Credit: Getty Images/Gregory Shamus

Additional top-15 ranked players include No. 4 Sung Hyun Park, No. 7 I.K. Kim, No. 9 Jessica Korda, No. 10 Moriya Jutanugarn, and No. 15 Minjee Lee, last season’s runner up.

Other names in the field include Brittany Lincicome – winner of the Pure Silk-Bahamas, Eun-Hee JI – winner of the Kia Classic, England’s Carly Booth – playing on a sponsor’s invite, and American fan favorite Stacy Lewis.


WEEKLY UPDATE

Jessica Korda during the 2017 LPGA Volvik Championship. Credit: Getty Images/Gregory Shamus

2018 STAT LEADERS

Official Money: Ariya Jutanugarn, $771,390
Driving Distance Average: Maude-Aimee Leblanc, 276.5
Greens in Regulation: Jin Young Ko, 78.59%
Scoring Average: Jessica Korda, 69.037
Eagles: Jessica Korda, 8
Birdies: Ariya Jutanugarn, 187

2018 AWARD STANDINGS

Rolex Player of the Year: Ariya Jutanugarn, 86
Race to CME Globe: Ariya Jutanugarn, 1735
Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year: Jin Young Ko, 485

2018 WINS

1: Brittany Lincicome (Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic)
1: Jin Young Ko (ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open)
1: Jessica Korda (Honda LPGA Thailand)
1: Michelle Wie (HSBC Women’s World Championship)
1: Inbee Park (Bank of Hope Founders Cup)
1: Eun-Hee Ji (Kia Classic)
1: Pernilla Lindberg (ANA Inspiration)
1: Brooke Henderson (LOTTE Championship)
1: Moriya Jutanugarn (HUGEL-JTBC LA Open)
1: Lydia Ko (LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship)
1: Sung Hyun Park (Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic)
1: Ariya Jutanugarn (Kingsmill Championship)

LEADERS TOP 10

8: Ariya Jutanugarn
6: Jin Young Ko

2018 WINS BY COUNTRY

4: Korea (J. Ko, Park, Ji, Park)
3: U.S. (Lincicome, Korda, Wie)
2: Thailand (M. Jutanugarn, A.Jutanugarn)
1: Sweden (Lindberg)
1: Canada (Henderson)
1: New Zealand (L. Ko)


FULL FIELD & ODDS

Place your bets on the LPGA Volvik Championship at Bovada.


Credits: LPGA Tour Media, Getty Images


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