The LPGA Tour heads to Michigan with a significant number of its biggest names in tow for this week’s 5th annual Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give.
The popular tournament has been contested at the venerable Blythefield Country Club since its inception in 2014.
The par-72 track spreads out to 6,859 yards from the blacks, but the ladies will play it from the blues, which will measure out to 6,451 yards and a par 71.
Out of the current Rolex World Rankings, 16 of the top 25 golfers will be teeing it up in Michigan this week. Leading the way is newly crowned U.S. Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn, whose making her first start since winning her major title in Alabama two weeks ago.
Now up to No. 2 in the world, Jutanugarn could possibly pass Inbee Park, who is not playing this week, to take ownership of the world No. 1 bib.
World No. 3 Lexi Thompson, who has a fantastic record in this event, is also playing, as is defending champion Brooke M. Henderson.
Here are additional details to know about this week’s LPGA event.
Tournament: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give
Dates: June 14-17, 2018
Where: Grand Rapids, Mich.
Course: Blythefield Country Club
Distance: Par 72, 6,624 yards
Architect: William B. Langford and Theodore J. Moreau
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $300,000
Defending Champion: Brooke M. Henderson
Marquee Players: Henderson, Ariya Jutanugarn, Lexi Thompson, So Yeon Ryu, Cristie Kerr, Anna Nordqvist, Moriya Jutanugarn, Sei Young Kim, In Gee Chun, Lydia Ko, Mi Jung Hur, Danielle Kang, Amy Yang, Michelle Wie, Mirim Lee, Pernilla Lindberg, Annie Park
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The Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give returns for its fifth year, bringing some of the world’s best female golfers to western Michigan.
The historic course at Blythefield Country Club, dating back to 1928, hosts the event. The private golf club, designed by William Langford and Theodore Moreau, is located in Belmont, Michigan, a suburb of Grand Rapids.
Past winners include defending champ Brooke M. Henderson, Sei Young Kim, Lexi Thompson and Mirim Lee.
The title sponsor is Meijer Inc., the retail and grocery chain that is headquartered in Grand Rapids. The event benefits the company’s “Simply Give” program, which stocks the shelves of food pantry partners across the Midwest.
2016-18: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give
2014-15: Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft
2017: Brooke M. Henderson (-21)
2016: Sei Young Kim (-17)
2015: Lexi Thompson (-18)
2014: Mirim Lee (-14)
263 (-21) Brooke M. Henderson (2017)
Canadian Brooke M. Henderson must have felt far enough north in the state of Michigan to be comfortable, as the Ontario native emerged from a crowded leaderboard to claim victory at the 2017 Meijer LPGA Classic For Simply Give.
A final round 3-under 66 (flooding changed par mid-tournament) allowed Henderson to reach 21-under for the week, two strokes better than notable Americans Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson.
Henderson’s fourth career victory spoiled the 2017 debut of Ariya Jutanugarn as the world’s No. 1 player. Jutanugarn moved past Lydia Ko after Ko held the top spot for the previous 85 weeks. Jutanugarn’s stay at the top was only two weeks, but after falling as far back as No. 9 at the end of the 2017 season, she has recovered in 2018 and, following her victory two weeks in the U.S. Open, she is back to the No. 2 spot in the world rankings and could move back to No. 1 with a strong showing this week.
FINAL TOP 10
1 Brooke M. Henderson -21
2 Michelle Wie -19
2 Lexi Thompson -19
4 Su-Hyun Oh -18
4 Madelene Sagstrom -18
4 Moriya Jutanugarn -18
7 Danielle Kang -17
7 Carlota Ciganda -17
7 Hyo Joo Kim -17
10 Jacqui Concolino -16
10 Mi Jung Hur -16
10 Lydia Ko -16
Ariya Jutanugarn has been the hottest golfer on the LPGA Tour for the past couple of months, but almost slipped at the most inopportune time, losing a seven-shot lead on Sunday of the U.S. Open two weeks ago before recovering to beat Hyo Joo Kim in a two-hole aggregate playoff.
Jutanugarn’s final round at the Open was the only time in her last 17 rounds that she has posted an over-par round. That kind of dominance has contributed to a streak of five straight top 10 finishes. She may be challenged to keep that streak alive this week, however, as her best finish in three previous appearances in the Meijer event has been a tie for 18th.
Kim, the runner-up to Jutanugarn in the Open, is also in this week’s field, and had a solid showing a year ago with a tie for 7th.
Defending champ Brooke M. Henderson will look to get her focus back after having to withdraw from the Women’s U.S. Open due to the death of her grandfather. She returned for last week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic, where she finished tied for 28th.
In the year since winning in Grand Rapids last June, she has offered glimpses of why she is one of the game’s most promising young talents, posting a second-place finish in the 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship while attempting to defend the major title she won in that event in 2016.
She’s also added two more LPGA victories, first at last fall’s McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open and then adding this spring’s LOTTE Championship.
World No. 3 Lexi Thompson must have the Meijer event circled on her calendar. She was the winner in the event’s second year in 2015, and followed that up with a tie for fourth in 2016 and a tie for second last year. Coming off her best showing since February when she finished in a tie for fifth at the U.S. Open, Thompson is a real threat to get her season rolling with yet another strong showing this week.
The player who tied with Thompson for second place last year, Michelle Wie, is back as part of the 2018 Meijer field. Also in the field are 2016 Meijer champion Sei Young Kim and 2014 champion Mirim Lee.
Add in a host of other top names including So Yeon Ryu, Moriya Jutanugarn, Cristie Kerr, Lydia Ko and Pernilla Lindberg and there should be plenty of quality golf to watch from Grand Rapids this week.