A SHORE TRADITION ON THE LPGA TOUR The 2021 LPGA Tour campaign continues in Galloway, N.J., for a “Shore Tradition” unlike any other, as the world’s top female golfers return to the Bay Course at Seaview, A Dolce Hotel for the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer from Oct. 1-3.
A 132-player field is headlined by defending champion Mel Reid and 2019 winner Lexi Thompson. Seven of the top-10 players in the Rolex Rankings have also made the trek to Atlantic County including current No. 2 Jin Young Ko and No. 5 Nasa Hataoka, last week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G champion.
After being contested as a 72-hole event last year for only the second time in tournament history, it’s back to the typical 54-hole format. Reid recorded rounds of 68-64-66-67 to become a Rolex First-Time Winner and add her name to the historic list of ShopRite LPGA Classic champions which includes such Hall of Fame members as Karrie Webb, Annika Sorenstam, Betsy King, Se Ri Pak, Nancy Lopez and Juli Inkster. The Englishwoman will join five other past ShopRite LPGA Classic winners in the field this week including two-time champions Anna Nordqvist (2015, 2016) and Stacy Lewis (2012, 2014).
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SHOPRITE LPGA CLASSIC PRESENTED BY ACER
· This is the 33rd playing of the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer and 23rd on the Bay Course at the famed Seaview, A Dolce Hotel.
· The tournament was originally known as the Atlantic City LPGA Classic, but changed its name to the ShopRite LPGA Classic in 1992 when Wakefern Food Corporation took over as title sponsor. In 2013, current presenting sponsor Acer signed on.
· The Bay Course was designed in 1914 by Donald Ross and hosted the 1942 PGA Championship, the first of seven majors won by Sam Snead.
· Every year, ShopRite donates more than $1.5 million to food banks, as well as healthcare and education programs in the communities it serves.
· Since becoming the title sponsor, ShopRite has donated more than $37 million to charity.
· Betsy King (1987, 1995, 2001) and Annika Sorenstam (1998, 2002, 2005) are the only three-time winners of the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer.
· There have been 25 different champions in tournament history from eight different countries.
· The 18-hole tournament scoring record is 10-under par (61), set by Sei Young Kim in the second round in 2018 and matched by Sakura Yokomine in the third round that same year.
· The ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer was contested as a 72-hole event for the second time in tournament history in 2020. The first was 1990 when Christa Johnson won at Greate Bay Country Club. It is back to a 54-hole event this year.
EXPECTATIONS, CAREER LONGEVITY TOP OF MIND FOR DEFENDING CHAMP REID
A six-time winner on the Ladies European Tour from 2010-2017, Mel Reid became a Rolex First-Time Winner in her fourth year on the LPGA Tour at the 2020 ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer. It was a moment that altered the trajectory of her career, in terms of longevity and expectations.
Now, the 34-year-old is back at Seaview, A Dolce Hotel to defend her crown in Galloway, N.J.
“I think my expectations are certainly higher. It's extremely hard to win on the LPGA. I think the strength and the depth of players out here, people don’t realize how good these girls are,” said Reid. “There's a certain amount of respect from the players when you win a tournament because people have been out here for many, many years and not been able to get over the line. It was nice to get the monkey off my back, to pull through and know that I can win out here, and it has changed my career to a certain extent. A lot more opportunities and things like that, so it was a huge moment for me.”
Reid made her first start in just over a month last week at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. She recently moved into a new home in Jupiter, Fla., so after painting during the time off and leading Team Europe to a victory at the Solheim Cup, Reid has focused on recovery every chance she gets. It’s a key component to her process that, when combined with her win on the Bay Course, has Reid pondering how long she can make a career on Tour.
“I think especially in women's golf, people retire pretty early, whether that’s because they want to have families or the girls out here are just so good, so young that they kind of burn out,” Reid said. “I kind of want to change that perception a little bit. We have the likes of Laura [Davies] and Juli [Inkster], Angela Stanford, who are playing into the later stages of their career. That's fantastic for women's golf. I would love to change the perception that you still can have a great career from the age of 34 and [beyond], like the best part of your career from 34 to 41, 42.
“I feel like I have a little bit of a voice. The better you play, people can't ignore you, so that's something that always motivates me, as well.”
LEXI THOMPSON A HORSE FOR EVERY TYPE OF COURSE
One player the old adage, “Different horses for different courses,” didn’t account for is 11-time LPGA Tour champion Lexi Thompson.
The 26-year-old Floridian has won the ANA Inspiration on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club, which plays close to 7,000 yards. She has also tackled the Bay Course at Seaview, A Dolce Hotel to claim the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer, this week’s LPGA event and one of the shortest tracks on Tour. Even so, Thompson’s strategy is particular when it comes to the various tournament host sites.
“Drivers versus 2-irons,” Thompson said laughingly. “Definitely a different mindset. This golf course and like last week's [at Pinnacle Country Club for the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship] too, it's a lot more placement golf. You think more into the tee shots, just getting it into the fairway, giving yourself a mid-iron to a wedge at the pins.
“I don't hit too many drivers here, either. I hit a lot of 2-irons, a lot of 3-woods. Sometimes that actually works out because it does get pretty windy out here. I love hitting my driver obviously and playing long, challenging golf courses, but this is challenging too, especially if it gets windy. You can play aggressively. If the wind gets going, you have to be careful on some holes.”
The details will be part of the gameplan for Thompson as she looks to find the winner’s circle for the first time since her 2019 victory in Galloway, N.J. She’ll also carry special memories with her, of the win and making her professional debut here in 2010 as a 15-year-old.
“Definitely some good memories. I hit my putt on 18 a few times yesterday [in my practice round] and I was like, ‘This brings back good memories.’ I’m really looking forward to the week,” said Thompson. “I remember my first time as a professional arriving in the NASCAR [stock car], pulling up in the circle here [at Seaview valet] and struggling to get out of the window. It was quite an experience to be able to make my professional debut here. Very special moment for me.”
XIYU ‘JANET’ LIN WEATHERS BREAK TO ACHIEVE GOAL
It wasn’t easy. But no worthwhile goal ever is. Janet Lin won the team gold medal for Guangdong province in the Chinese National Games in 2013. This year, the third time golf has been part of that contest, organizers decided to award both a team and individual medal. “From the first day [they announced the format], I was like, ‘Yeah I'm going to win both of them,’” Lin said.
COVID-19 and all of its restrictions threw a number of wrenches into that process. For starters, the Olympic Games were moved from 2020 to 2021, which meant that Lin would represent her country on the world stage in Tokyo, then fly home to China where she would represent her province.
Then, of course, there were the quarantines.
“I had two 21-day quarantines before and after the Olympics,” Lin explained. “I quarantined before the Olympics. Then I played the Olympics. And then three weeks of quarantine afterwards (followed by) two weeks of training with the Guangdong team. And then, last week, I finally played in the national games.
“[Before the Olympics] we were in our room. And then after several days of testing, we were allowed to go out individually and practice for like two hours a day,” she said. “So, I got a little bit of sun. And then when we came back from the Olympics, it was kind of the same. But we weren’t at a golf course. We were in like a bicycle training base, which had a gym, running field; they had everything. After the first seven days stuck in a room, the next 14 we could go out to just have a little walk.”
The golfers at the Chinese National Games were quarantined with the equestrian team. Neither had access to their traditional facilities.
“I mean, I haven't really done a real quarantine. But those two were pretty crazy. After the Olympics, I didn't touch a club for 21 days. My 5-wood got rusty,” Lin said with a laugh. “Yeah, I took my 5-wood out, finally, at the golf course, and I'm like, ‘Oh, why does it have rust on it?’”
Still, she went out and captured the individual title by seven shots over her Guangdong teammates Shanshan Feng and Yu Liu, among many others.
With all the travel and time away, the Shoprite Classic is Lin’s first event since the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. But in hindsight, the time away – even those stir-crazy moments when she could only get outside alone for an hour – were worth it.
To read the full story from Steve Eubanks on LPGA.com, visit:
PAR-5 18TH THE AON RISK REWARD CHALLENGE HOLE AT THE BAY COURSE
This week’s par 5 is relatively straight and will challenge players to think about their second shot, as well as approach. The 18th will favor the longer hitter, but if any player wants to be in contention then they’ll have to score well here. In 2020, the hole’s scoring average was 4.54. Those individuals that finished in the top 15 were able to gain almost 1/3 of a stroke on the field with a scoring average of 4.28 and made a birdie or better nearly 70% of the time. On Sunday afternoon, players will look to make good decisions and execute efficiently to secure a birdie or eagle en route to a victory.
For more information on this week’s Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole and the season-long competition, click here: https://www.lpga.com/statistics/aon-risk-reward-challenge.
RACE TO THE CME GLOBE UPDATE
The 2021 season-long Race to the CME Globe continues at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer, the 25th event of the year. Nelly Korda continues to set the pace with three wins and eight total top-10s across 14 starts for 2,873.60 points. Following her 11th top-25 result in 17 starts this season, eight-year LPGA Tour veteran Lydia Ko checks in at No. 2 with 2,204.85 points. Jin Young Ko moves up one position into third at 2,080.15 points after a tie for sixth last week in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Second-year LPGA rookie Patty Tavatanakit dropped one spot to No. 4, but is hot on the heels of the Ko duo having accumulated 2,040.80 points. Rounding out the top-five competitors is Ariya Jutanugarn (1,910.15 points), one of four individuals that has secured multiple wins on the LPGA Tour this season.
The Race to the CME Globe is a season-long points competition which LPGA Tour Members accumulate points in every official LPGA tournament to gain entry into the season-ending tournament, CME Group Tour Championship. The player who wins the CME Group Tour Championship is named the “Race to the CME Globe Champion.”
Beginning in 2019, players started earning points at each official LPGA Tour event throughout the season leading up to the CME Group Tour Championship. The top-60 points earners and ties then earn a spot in the CME Group Tour Championship with the entire field competing for a $5 million purse highlighted by a $1.5 million winner’s check, the largest single prize in the history of women’s golf.