Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play Preview 2021

Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play Preview 2021

Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Hosted by Shadow Creek

Shadow Creek | Las Vegas, Nev. | May 26-30, 2021


LPGA TOUR HEADS TO LAS VEGAS FOR BANK OF HOPE LPGA MATCH-PLAY HOSTED BY SHADOW CREEK

For the first time since 2017, the LPGA Tour will compete in an official match-play event this week. And for the first time in 15 years, the world’s best female golfers will play under the sparkling lights of the famed Las Vegas Strip. This week’s inaugural Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Hosted by Shadow Creek boasts 64 competitors, led by Rolex Rankings No. 1 Jin Young Ko, Las Vegas resident Danielle Kang and Sei Young Kim, the LPGA Tour’s most recent match-play champion.

The Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Hosted by Shadow Creek is the LPGA Tour’s first match-play event since the 2017 Lorena Ochoa Match Play, where Kim earned a 1-up victory over Ariya Jutanugarn. Other official LPGA Tour match-play competitions include the 2010-2012 Sybase LPGA Match Play Championship and the 2005-2007 HSBC Women’s World Match Play Championship, as well as the 1950-1954 Women’s Western Open, then a major championship.

Shadow Creek, built in 1989 by renowned golf architect Tom Fazio, is considered one of the world’s top golfing destinations. In 2018, the course served as host for The Match: Tiger vs. Phil, which saw Phil Mickelson outlast Tiger Woods in a match that stretched to 22 holes. This past October, Shadow Creek hosted the PGA Tour’s CJ CUP, won by Jason Kokrak. While this is the first time the LPGA Tour will visit Shadow Creek, MGM Resorts has supported the women’s game for many years through its Golf Ambassador program, led by popular Tour players Natalie GulbisDanielle KangCristie KerrAlison LeeAnna Nordqvist and Michelle Wie West.

LPGA TOUR HISTORY IN LAS VEGAS

The Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Hosted by Shadow Creek marks the LPGA Tour’s return to Las Vegas for the first time since 2006. However, the Tour has a long and storied history with the electric city.

  • The LPGA Championship (now the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship) was held at Stardust C.C. in Las Vegas from 1961 to 1966, with champions including Mickey Wright (1961, 1963) and Sandra Haynie (1965)
  • The Desert Inn Classic was held at Desert Inn C.C. from 1971 to 1974, with winners including Sandra Palmer (1971) and JoAnne Carner (1974)
  • The J&B Scotch Pro-Am was held at various Las Vegas clubs from 1979 to 1985, with winners including Nancy Lopez (1979, 1982, 1983), Donna Caponi (1980, 1981) and Patty Sheehan (1985)
  • The Las Vegas LPGA was held at various Las Vegas clubs from 1990 to 1993, with winners including Trish Johnson (1993)
  • The ITT LPGA Tour Championship (eventually called the LPGA Playoffs at The ADT) was held at Desert Inn C.C. from 1996 to 1999, with winners Karrie Webb (1996), Annika Sorenstam (1997), Laura Davies (1998) and Se Ri Pak (1999)
  • The LPGA Takefuji Classic was held at Las Vegas C.C. from 2003 to 2006, with winners including Cristie Kerr (2004) and Lorena Ochoa (2006)

Additionally, the Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge (an unofficial event with the LPGA Tour, PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions) was held at various clubs in Las Vegas from 1992 to 2013.

MGM RESORTS AMBASSADOR DANIELLE KANG HAS HIGH PRAISE FOR MATCH-PLAY SPONSORS

Danielle Kang is one of four MGM Resorts ambassadors in the 64-player Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play field this week, joined by Natalie GulbisAlison Lee and Anna Nordqvist. The five-time LPGA Tour champion had high praise for tournament sponsors during her media availability on Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s more than just support of the Tour; it’s support of women’s sports. The fact that they are bringing us to one of the most prestigious golf courses in the country is incredible,” said Kang. “It takes a team and supporters to make history and I’m so thankful to have MGM Resorts taking that action with us. I’m so blessed to partner with companies that truly take action and MGM Resorts is my family.

“I also want to thank Bank of Hope, our title sponsor. They have been with the LPGA for a long time and we’re so appreciative of their support, just like it takes every action to make our dreams come true.”

For a player who is all about finding her right spot in the mental process, there’s a lot to like about this week. Kang has called Las Vegas home for several years and said Shadow Creek is “definitely” a home-course advantage for her.

“I’m at home and MGM, one of my best sponsors, is hosting an event at Shadow Creek for the LPGA. I’ve got nothing to complain about,” Kang said, who is relishing the rare opportunity to sleep in her own bed during competition week. “MGM has hosted us amazingly, and Shadow Creek is a beautiful track. This is the first time we can build history and it takes a group of people to take that first step with us, so MGM and Bank of Hope have done that.”

INBEE PARK PLAYING FOR HER GRANDFATHER THIS WEEK

Competing at the inaugural Bank of Hope Match Play Hosted by Shadow Creek will be different for Inbee Park than any previous tournament in her Hall of Fame career. It’ll be the first time a certain loved one does not follow every shot from afar.

“My grandfather (BJ Park) passed away yesterday,” said Park. “He is the one that got me into this game and he would probably want me playing, so that is why I am playing this week.”

Park hopes to honor her grandfather’s memory with a strong performance in Las Vegas, where she has lived since age 15.

“Want to make him proud,” Park said. “He really loved me playing golf and he always means so much in my heart. Luckily, I got to go back to Korea last week and was able to see him. The doctor said, ‘You should say goodbye to him.’ It was probably the saddest thing I’ve ever had to do. I think he’s in a good place. He’ll be watching me from Heaven.”

Her latest LPGA Tour start came earlier this month in Singapore at the HSBC Women’s World Championship, where the seven-time major winner tied for third. That tournament is also special in more ways than one for Park. Not only is she a two-time champion of the event, but she has shared several special memories with her grandpa there.

“The last tournament he watched was 2017 HSBC in Singapore, which I won. Right after, he went back to Korea, he has been in the hospital since then [with a brain condition],” said Park. “The last tournament he watched me playing golf [in person] was me winning.

“His dream was to play golf with me and my father, three generations. That’s how I got into the game. He really wanted to take me to the golf course, and I was probably 10 when I started playing. He was a really good golfer and loved playing with me. I’m here because of him so I think that’s why it just means so much more.”

ANGELA STANFORD LIVING HER BEST LIFE IN LAS VEGAS

“This seems like the trifecta this week of match play, Vegas and Shadow Creek. It’s just awesome.”

It’s safe to say that the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Hosted by Shadow Creek might be one of the highlight weeks of Angela Stanford’s storied LPGA Tour career. The seven-time champion is the ultimate competitor, and nothing else in golf quite gets those competitive juices flowing like match play. Add in the lights of the Vegas Strip, an immaculate host venue and two world-class sponsors giving the field the white-glove treatment, and the Team USA Solheim Cup star is absolutely in her element this week.

“This has been outrageous so far this week. It feels like they’re treating us like PGA pros this week. It’s so cool. I mean, to get picked up at the airport the way we did in a limo, get the jersey – they gave us a jersey from the Vegas Knights. It’s the little things. I think I’ve said that over and over and over,” said Stanford with a massive grin on her face. “We’re all looking for equality and looking for that, but it’s the little things. They’ve done the little things this week to make us feel so special. I mean, you just love sponsors like that. Like I said, it’s the little things, baby steps, that get us to the big steps. Man, this week feels different.”

Beyond her daily match, Stanford is also paying particular attention to 11 players on the radar of USA Captain Pat Hurst for the 2021 USA Solheim Cup Team. Stanford was tapped nearly a year ago to join Hurst’s staff as an Assistant Captain and this week, she plans to look more at a player’s down moments than her highlights.

“I want to see how much they fight. If they get down, do they come back. I’m watching stuff like that,” said Stanford, a six-time veteran of Team USA. “I think Pat has things that she’s watching, but I like to see if you get 3 or 4 down, do you take them all the way to the end? So, I like watching stuff like that.”

JIN YOUNG KO EXCITED TO PLAY AT “UNBELIEVABLE” SHADOW CREEK

After a T24 finish at the 2021 HSBC Women’s World Championship, Rolex Ranking No. 1 Jin Young Ko enjoyed a three-week break in competition before heading to this week’s Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Hosted at Shadow Creek. The Korean had lots of prep for this week’s tournament, her first match-play event since the 2017 Doosan Match Play Championship on the KLPGA Tour.

“Five years ago, in KLPGA, I played match play, but it wasn’t good,” chuckled Ko, who lost in the Round of 16 in 2017. “I don’t know. I will try my best.”

This is the first time the seven-time LPGA Tour winner will take to Shadow Creek, a course she loved watching on TV when the PGA TOUR visited the exclusive layout for the CJ Cup. It has more than met her expectations.

“I saw the 2020 CJ Cup last year and I was thinking, ‘Wow, that course is unbelievable. I really want to play this course,’” said Ko after walking onsite for the first time and whose expectations turned out to be better than she imagined. “I’m here and then I play this course, unbelievable. The shape is perfect and the condition, everything is good and weather is perfect, so I’m happy with it.”

Ko has been No. 1 in the Women’s World Golf Rankings since July 20, 2019, a mark of 96 consecutive weeks. Oddly, this week’s competition format may be her toughest challenge of that streak, as she said she much prefers stroke play to match play.

“Usually, I like stroke play. I don’t need to think about the other players and I can just focus on my game,” admitted Ko. “But match play is hard to just think on myself. It’s hard, but it’s going to be fun.”

ANNA NORDQVIST: A SOLID BET AHEAD OF BANK OF HOPE LPGA MATCH-PLAY
As an ambassador for MGM Resort, the ownership company behind the host venue for the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Presented by Shadow Creek, Anna Nordqvist has already had the pleasure of enjoying several loops around the ultra-exclusive layout.

“I love Shadow Creek. When I heard we were coming here, I was excited because I know how hard it is to get out here, and for us to even just play golf on this golf course all week, it’s quite a treat,” said the 13-year LPGA Tour veteran. “Great golf course. Greens are really firm, so it’s going to play pretty hard. But love it for match play. I think we’re all going to have a great week ahead.”

In addition to her on-course advantage, Nordqvist hopes to capitalize on her familiarity with the week’s form of play — match play. Nordqvist is a six-time Solheim Cup veteran for Europe, playing on the last six consecutive teams.

“Been a couple years since we had match play, and I loved it back then. Playing a lot of match play growing up and also with Solheim Cup and International Crown, just such a unique format, and we embrace the moments we do get to play it,” said Nordqvist. “I think this golf course is good for match play because it’s such a fine line. You can hit good shots, and if it kicks over the green just slightly you can be dead.”

With two solid advantages to her name, Nordqvist would be a solid bet to take home this week’s title, especially since she was recently reinspired to win after watching PGA Tour player Phil Mickelson win the PGA Championship. Like Mickelson, Nordqvist went seven years between major titles and sees many similarities between their individual battles to reclaim that glory.

“I think what was the most inspirational about [Phil’s] win is the fact that he hasn’t won a major in a while. A lot us saw him growing up playing, and you can kind of follow his hard work over the years and how he just never stops grinding. And to see that finally pay off, it’s pretty awesome,” said Nordqvist, who won her major titles in 2009 and 2017. “I never stopped believing in myself. I didn’t necessarily know it was going to happen, but just the fact to believe in yourself, there is just no age to the game. Golf ball doesn’t know how old you are. I feel like it’s a big inspiration. You just never know when the next good thing is ahead of you.”

LPGA BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTS MOLLIE MARCOUX SAMAAN AS COMMISSIONER

The Board of Directors of the LPGA has unanimously elected Mollie Marcoux Samaan as its next Commissioner. Marcoux Samaan, currently Ford Family Director of Athletics at Princeton University, will become the ninth Commissioner of the LPGA since its formation in 1950. She will succeed Commissioner Mike Whan who notified the LPGA Board late last year of his intent to step down in 2021. Whan was recently announced as the next Chief Executive Officer of the USGA. Marcoux Samaan will be working with the LPGA Board and the University to transition to her new role in the months ahead.

“The LPGA Commissioner role is one of the best jobs in sports today and the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m passionate about the game of golf and have been an LPGA fan since I was a little girl. I appreciate the LPGA’s history and the tenacity of its 13 Founders. I’m truly inspired by our Tour players and teaching professionals. I’m excited to dive into the LPGA initiatives to impact women and girls in the game at every age and ability. And, to learn about and contribute to all aspects of the LPGA’s business,” said Marcoux Samaan. “I believe passionately that sports have the power to change the world. And in this moment in time – with the positive energy around women’s sports, women’s leadership and society’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion – I believe the LPGA has an incredible opportunity to use our platform for positive change.

For veteran Tour player Angela Stanford, this morning’s news was a welcome way to start her day.

“This is my fourth commissioner, speaking of a commissioner, and I have seen some super highs and some super lows,” said Stanford. “She’s coming in on a very high note, and I think – I was trying to think how can I say this, she sounds like a bad ass. Sounds like she’s ready to roll. I love that she played golf growing up, played other sports in college. Sounds like she’s super smart. And then she’s handled the foundation side of things. It just sounds like she’s kind of seen a little bit of everything, so I’m excited for her to be here.”

CHAMPIONSHIP FORMAT
64 players, divided into 16 groups of four; after three days of round-robin matches, competition moves to a 16-player, single-elimination bracket
 

GROUP-PLAY PODS

Players will be seeded 1-64 based on their Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings as of Monday, May 24. Group-play pods will be structured according to the following table:

 12345678910111213141516
Seed12345678910111213141516
Seed32313029282726252423222120191817
Seed33343536373839404142434445464748
Seed64636261605958575655545352515049

SOCIAL MEDIA

Tournament: @LPGAMatchPlay (Twitter and Instagram)

LPGA: @LPGA, @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram)

TV TIMES (all times Eastern)

Wednesday, May 26 – 2-4:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 27 – 7-10 p.m.

Friday, May 28 – 7-10 p.m.

Saturday, May 29 – 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 30 – 6:30-9:30 p.m.

WHITELINE PAR AND YARDAGE

36-36–72, 6,777 yards (par and yardage are subject to change through the start of the tournament)

via LPGA

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