Three days of great golf needed instead of four. That’s one of the factors that makes this week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer stand out on the LPGA schedule.
A huge two-day pro-am event extends over from Wednesday into Thursday, leaving just 54 holes for the championship to be contested.
Playing in south New Jersey on a classic Donald Ross golf course, the pressure is on the entire field to get into scoring mode early. “Moving day,” as Saturdays in pro golf have come to be known, comes only 18 holes into play.
The defending champ is South Korea’s I.K. Kim, who won last year’s event with a Sunday round of 69 that put her two strokes clear of anyone else in the field.
Among those right behind her, and who will be eagerly awaiting this year’s event, was Anna Nordqvist, who was shooting for a third straight title last year after winning the ShopRite title in 2015 and ’16.
A number of other intriguing names are in the field this week, as well. Here are more details about what to expect at the 2018 edition of the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
Tournament: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer
Dates: June 8-10, 2018
Where: Galloway, NJ
Course: Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club – Bay Course
Distance: Par 71, 6,217 yards
Architect: Donald Ross
Format: 54-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $262,500
Defending Champion: I.K. Kim
Marquee Players: I.K. Kim, Shanshan Feng, Sung Hyun Park, Minjee Lee, Jessica Korda, Anna Nordqvist, Lydia Ko, Brooke M. Henderson, Jin Young Ko, Sei Young Kim, Amy Yang, Stacy Lewis, Pernilla Lindberg, Paula Creamer
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Distinctive in its current format for “golf’s largest pro-am” played over two days and four courses, the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer brings the LPGA tour to southern New Jersey, just adjacent to Atlantic City.
It’s contested on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club, an historic gem designed by Donald Ross in 1914 and the host course for the 1942 PGA Championship.
The LPGA has been visiting almost continuously since 1986, with only a break from 2007-09. With an extra day of pro-am play, it is only a 54-hole event. A slew of top players have claimed the title over the years, including Betsy King and Annika Sorenstam, the only three-time winners of the event.
Juli Inkster won this title two times, as have Stacy Lewis and Anna Nordqvist. Other top names who have won on the Bay Course include Nancy Lopez, Donna Andrews, Dottie Pepper, Michelle McGann, Se Ri Pak, Cristie Kerr and Karrie Webb.
The title sponsor, ShopRite, is a supermarket cooperative that operates stores throughout the northeastern United States, and is also the largest employer in the state of New Jersey. Its partner in presenting the tournament, Acer, is a technology and electronics company based in Taiwan.
2013-18: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer
1992-2012: ShopRite LPGA Classic
1988-91: Atlantic City Classic
1986-87: Atlantic City LPGA Classic
2017: I.K. Kim (-11)
2016: Anna Nordqvist (-17)
2015: Anna Nordqvist (-8)
2014: Stacy Lewis (-16)
2013: Karrie Webb (-4)
2012: Stacy Lewis (-12)
2011: Brittany Lincicome (-11)
196 (-17) Annika Sorenstam (1998, 2005)
196 (-17) Anna Nordqvist (2016)
3 – Betsy King (1987, 1995, 2001)
3 – Annika Sorenstam (1998, 2002, 2005)
2 – Juli Inkster (1986, 1988)
2 – Stacy Lewis (2012, 2014)
2 – Anna Nordqvist (2016-17)
After falling as low as 46th in the world at the end of 2015, I.K. Kim used her victory at the 2017 ShopRite LPGA Classic as the first step in a career year.
After her New Jersey win, Kim went on to capture the Marathon Classic and then her first career major, the Ricoh Women’s British Open. She returns to defend her title with a lofty ranking of No. 7 in the Rolex World Rankings.
Winning the ShopRite title wasn’t easy, as Kim had to hold off two-time defending champion Anna Nordqvist, who lurked two strokes behind Kim and co-leader Paula Creamer heading into the final round.
Both Kim and Nordqvist shot rounds of 69, giving Kim her fourth career victory on the LPGA Tour with a winning total of 11-under par.
Creamer shot a final round 74 which pushed her back to T7.
FINAL TOP 10
1 I.K. Kim -11
2 Anna Nordqvist -9
3 Michelle Wie -7
3 Jenny Shin -7
3 Jacqui Concolino -7
3 Jeong Eun Lee -7
7 Jaye Marie Green -6
7 Gaby Lopez -6
7 Mo Martin -6
7 Moriya Jutanugarn -6
7 Paula Creamer -6
Nine of the current top 20 players in the Rolex World Rankings gives the 2018 ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer a very solid field.
The two players who leap to the front in grabbing your attention in terms of this event are I.K. Kim and Anna Nordqvist.
Kim is the defending champ, and is coming off her strongest season on the LPGA Tour last year, with three victories. Her form hasn’t been as strong yet in 2018, but remember, it wasn’t until the 2017 ShopRite that she really caught fire. She is fresh from her best showing of the year two weeks ago, when she finished second at the LPGA Volvik Championship.
You need look no further than Nordqvist’s back-to-back titles at the ShopRite in 2015 and ’16 (including tying the tournament scoring record that second year), followed by last year’s second-place finish, to understand why she is a major threat to win this week.
Like Kim, Nordqvist hasn’t gotten on a roll yet in 2018, but she has shown flashes of top form.
World No. 4 Shanshan Feng is the highest-ranked player in the field, but her play is reflected in her current ranking in contrast to the world No. 1 position she held at the start of the season.
She hasn’t been horrible, with a tie for third just three starts ago at the LPGA MediHeal Championship, and this event could be a good opportunity for her to get things moving in the right direction again.
Sung Hyun Park and Minjee Lee are also players currently in the Rolex top 10 who are playing this week.
Park is the No. 5-ranked player, but the defending U.S. Women’s Open champion missed the cut last week. She also missed the cut in two of her previous three starts. The only cut she made in the last month, though, she won — the Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic.
Lee, the world’s No. 8 player, is also a recent winner, having won the LPGA Volvik Championship two weeks ago, a feat that moved her back into the top 10.
Outside of the top-ranked contenders are a grouping of players that could bear watching. One of them is Paula Creamer, who was tied for the lead going into Sunday at last year’s event and still ended up with her best showing in three years with her finish in a tie for seventh.
Two other players of interest are a pair of Irish twins, Leona and Lisa McGuire, who will be making the move from the amateur ranks to professional golf when they tee it up this week.
Leona broke Lydia Ko’s record for the most weeks as the top player in the World Amateur rankings, holding the spot for the last 131 weeks.
Lisa has ranked as high as No. 35 in the World Amateur rankings, and is a past champion of the European Ladies Amateur championship.
Credits: LPGA Tour Media, Getty Images