DIAMOND RESORTS TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS PREVIEW
NEW YEAR, NEW TOURNAMENT; LPGA WELCOMES DIAMOND RESORTS TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Twenty-six LPGA Tour winners from the 2017 and 2018 seasons have gathered at Tranquilo Golf Course in Orlando, Fla., for the inaugural Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions presented by Insurance Office of America. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn, who captured every major award following her dominant 2018 season, leads a field that highlights the very best talent that women’s golf has to offer, including past World No. 1 players Shanshan Feng, Cristie Kerr, Lydia Ko and Stacy Lewis.
The exciting field also includes 49 celebrities from the worlds of sports and entertainment, teeing off alongside the LPGA Tour stars all four days. Notable celebrities include defending champion Mardy Fish, who won the 2018 Diamond Resorts Invitational, World Series champion and 2018 U.S. Senior Open competitor John Smoltz, Super Bowl champion Mark Rypien and NHL All-Star Jeremy Roenick.
Professionals: 26 players; 72 holes, stroke play, no cut
Celebrities and amateurs: 49 players; 72 holes, Modified Stableford scoring format, no cut
MODIFIED STABLEFORD SCORING FORMAT
The Modified Stableford scoring format awards six points for eagle, three for birdie, one for par, zero for bogey, minus-two for double-bogey and higher.
Professionals: $1.2 million; winner’s portion is $180,000
Celebrities and amateurs: $500,000; winner’s portion is $100,000
WHITELINE PAR AND YARDAGE
34-37–71, 6,645 yards (par and yardage are subject to change through the start of the tournament)
ARIYA JUTANUGARN SHARES BIG HEART DURING OFF-SEASON
For World No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn, the off-season was spent enjoying time with family in Thailand, but also busy with time helping others. Jutanugarn, joined by sister Moriya, helped build homes for Habitat for Humanity, and the pair started a foundation to raise money to fund cleft palate reconstruction for children in their native Thailand.
“We’ve been dreaming to do that for a long time,” shared Jutanugarn of the new charity golf event, the Mo-May Golf Charity, held last month. “We were worried about how it was going to happen, and basically this year, finally, we did it. Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee came and helped us. Kiradech helped us do the [golf] clinic and played a round with us. And all the donations went to cleft lip and all that. So we got like $40,000 U.S. It’s pretty good.
“I feel like everybody should have a chance to live like a normal person because I feel like some of them can’t even smile and they can’t even eat. So I feel like that’s a main problem for them.”
Switching her focus back to competition, Jutanugarn has decided to change a few things for the start of the 2019 season. She has a new caddie in Daniel Taylor and is working on her wedge game, which she says will help her feel more comfortable with hitting driver.
“I want to hit like I did at ANA,” said Jutanugarn. “I feel like if I hit it like I did at ANA, I’m going to have a pretty good short iron to the green. But at the same time, if I’m going to hit driver, I have to work on my wedge. My wedge has to get better, then I feel more comfortable to hit driver.”
LEWIS HITS TRANQUILO WITH NEW DAUGHTER IN TOW
It’s a new year for Stacy Lewis on many levels. The 14-time LPGA Tour winner is teeing up at this week’s season-opener with a new title to her name – mom. Lewis and husband Gerrod Chadwell are making their first work trip with daughter Chesnee Lynn, born Oct. 25, safely nestled in the Smucker’s Day Care Center.
“It was a little bit hard dropping her off the last few mornings, but life is definitely different,” said Lewis, who last played at the 2018 Marathon Classic in July. “It’s all about her. It’s not about me anymore, which is completely okay. So just trying to fit the golf in there. Not a lot of high expectations for this week, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Lewis was not cleared to pick up a club for eight weeks following Chesnee’s birth and says she is still rebuilding her athletic body after giving birth. But with some sleepless nights under her belt, Lewis is happy to be back on the course and back at her first job, although that new job is well-worth the sacrifices.
“When I first came back hitting balls, it felt so foreign. I kind of had to go through my checklist of, all right, this is how you grip a club,” said Lewis, who joins a growing group of moms on Tour, with Karine Icher, Suzann Pettersen and Gerina Piller all giving birth in 2018. “This is how you set up. This is what my shoulders need to be. I think for four or five days I just went through that checklist of just trying to make it feel more normal again because my body doesn’t feel the same as it did before.”
CELEBRITIES LOOKING FORWARD TO WEEK WITH LPGA TOUR STARS
The best of the LPGA Tour won’t be the only ones inside the ropes this week at Tranquilo Golf Course. Some of the most famous names in sports and entertainment are looking forward to teeing it up alongside the professionals.
“We are competitors too, and the better we play will motivate them and vice versa,” said Mark Rypien, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Washington Redskins. “I think we can feed off it without taking away from the competitive nature that they have and the competitive nature that we have.”
Mardy Fish, a six-time professional tennis champion and the new captain of the Davis Cup tennis team, certainly leads the pack of celebrity contenders. Fish, who was recently complimented by Jack Nicklaus as the best non-professional golfer he has ever seen, won the 2018 Diamond Resorts Invitational, the previous incarnation of this event that was played alongside PGA Tour Champions players.
“I don’t think I can give them tips, no, not on the golf course,” said Fish with a laugh when asked if he could share any winning advice with this week’s pros. “If you want a tennis tip or something, I can handle that. I don’t think I can teach them anything that they don’t know, that’s for sure.”
NEXT EVOLUTION OF THE RACE TO THE CME GLOBE BEGINS AT #DIAMONDLPGA
The 2019 season brings a fresh face to the Race to the CME Globe. Starting this week at Tranquilo Golf Course, LPGA Members will accumulate points in every Official LPGA Tournament to gain entry into the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship with an equal opportunity to take home a $1.5 million bonus, the biggest prize in women’s golf.
All tournaments have the same point values except for the five major championships, which carry 25 percent more value, and two additional events. For the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, points will be awarded to the top 20 and ties, and for the DOW Great Lakes Bay Invitational, points will be awarded to members who make the cut. For all events with a cut, points are awarded to members who make the cut, while for events without a cut, points are awarded to members who finish in the top 40 and ties. Only LPGA Tour members are eligible to earn points in the Race.
Points will be reset for the CME Group Tour Championship following the Blue Bay LPGA, with the top 60 LPGA Members, seeded into the championship field. No points will be allocated at the CME Group Tour Championship. Rather all competitors in the field will compete on an equal playing ground for an official money purse of $5 million. The player who wins the CME Group Tour Championship will also be named the “Race to the CME Globe Champion.”
Ariya Jutanugarn (2016, 2018), Lexi Thompson (2017) and Lydia Ko (2014, 2015) are the only players to have won the Race to the CME Globe and hoist the crystal trophy.
FINAL 2018 STATISTICS
2018 STATISTICAL LEADERS
Official Money: Ariya Jutanugarn, $2,743,949
Scoring Average: Ariya Jutanugarn, 69.415
Driving Distance Average: Yani Tseng, 275 yards
Eagles: Lexi Thompson, 15
Birdies: Ariya Jutanugarn, 470
Greens in Regulation: Jin Young Ko, 77.0%
2018 AWARD WINNERS
Rolex Player of the Year: Ariya Jutanugarn, 237
Race to the CME Globe: Ariya Jutanugarn, 6,750
Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year: Jin Young Ko, 1,263
Rolex ANNIKA Major Award: Ariya Jutanugarn, 88
2018 WINS BY COUNTRY (32 tournaments, 10 countries)
9 – Republic of Korea (In Gee Chun, Jin Young Ko, Inbee Park, Eun-Hee Ji, Sei Young Kim, Sung Hyun Park* (3), So Yeon Ryu)
9 – United States (Marina Alex, Brittany Lincicome, Danielle Kang, Jessica Korda, Nelly Korda, Annie Park, Angela Stanford*, Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie)
5 – Thailand (Ariya Jutanugarn* (3), Moriya Jutanugarn, Thidapa Suwannapura)
2 – Canada (Brooke Henderson)
2 – Japan (Nasa Hataoka)
1 – Australia (Minjee Lee)
1 – England (Georgia Hall*)
1 – Mexico (Gaby Lopez)
1 – New Zealand (Lydia Ko)
1 – Sweden (Pernilla Lindberg*)
*Major Championship winner
2018 WINS BY PLAYER (32 tournaments, 26 players)
3 – Ariya Jutanugarn (Kingsmill Championship, U.S. Women’s Open*, Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open)
3 – Sung Hyun Park (Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship*, Indy Women in Tech Championship)
2 – Nasa Hataoka (Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, TOTO Japan Classic)
2 – Brooke Henderson (LOTTE Championship, CP Women’s Open)
1 – Marina Alex (Cambia Portland Classic)
1 – In Gee Chun (LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship)
1 – Georgia Hall (Ricoh Women’s British Open*)
1 – Eun-Hee Ji (Kia Classic)
1 – Moriya Jutanugarn (HUGEL-JTBC LA Open)
1 – Danielle Kang (Buick LPGA Shanghai)
1 – Sei Young Kim (Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic)
1 – Jin Young Ko (ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open)
1 – Lydia Ko (LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship)
1 – Jessica Korda (Honda LPGA Thailand)
1 – Nelly Korda (Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship)
1 – Minjee Lee (LPGA Volvik Championship)
1 – Brittany Lincicome (Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic)
1 – Pernilla Lindberg (ANA Inspiration*)
1 – Gaby Lopez (Blue Bay LPGA)
1 – Annie Park (ShopRite LPGA Classic)
1 – Inbee Park (Bank of Hope Founders Cup)
1 – So Yeon Ryu (Meijer LPGA Classic)
1 – Angela Stanford (Evian Championship*)
1 – Lexi Thompson (CME Group Tour Championship)
1 – Thidapa Suwannapura (Marathon Classic)
1 – Michelle Wie (HSBC Women’s World Championship)
*Major Championship winner
ROLEX FIRST-TIME WINNERS (10)
Jin Young Ko (ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open), Pernilla Lindberg (ANA Inspiration), Moriya Jutanugarn (HUGEL-JTBC LA Open), Annie Park (ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer), Nasa Hataoka (Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G), Thidapa Suwannapura (Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and O-I), Georgia Hall (Ricoh Women’s British Open), Marina Alex (Cambia Portland Classic), Nelly Korda (Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship), Gaby Lopez (Blue BayLPGA)
LEADERS TOP 10 COMPETITION
16: Ariya Jutanugarn
13: Jin Young Ko, Minjee Lee
10: Nasa Hataoka, Brooke Henderson
WHO’S IN THE DIAMOND RESORTS TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS FIELD
26 LPGA Tour Winners from 2017 and 2018
Marina Alex (2018 Cambia Portland Classic), In Gee Chun (2018 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship), Shanshan Feng (2017 LPGA Volvik Championship, 2017 TOTO Japan Classic, 2017 Blue Bay LPGA), Georgia Hall (2018 Ricoh Women’s British Open), Nasa Hataoka (2018 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, 2018 TOTO Japan Classic), Brooke Henderson (2017 Meijer LPGA Classic, 2017 MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open, 2018 LOTTE Championship, 2018 CP Women’s Open), Eun-Hee Ji (2017 Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship, 2018 Kia Classic), Ariya Jutanugarn (2017 Manulife LPGA Classic, 2017 CME Group Tour Championship, 2018 Kingsmill Championship, 2018 U.S. Women’s Open, 2018 Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open), Moriya Jutanugarn (2018 HUGEL-JTBC LA Open), Danielle Kang (2017 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, 2018 Buick LPGA Shanghai), Cristie Kerr (2017 LOTTE Championship, 2017 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia), Sei Young Kim (2017 Lorena Ochoa Match, 2018 Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic), Katherine Kirk (2017 Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic), Lydia Ko (2018 LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship), Nelly Korda (2018 Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship), Mi Hyang Lee (2017 Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open), Mirim Lee (2017 Kia Classic), Stacy Lewis (2017 Cambia Portland Classic), Brittany Lincicome (2017 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, 2018 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic), Pernilla Lindberg (2018 ANA Inspiration),Gaby Lopez (2018 Blue Bay LPGA), Anna Nordqvist (2017 Bank of Hope Founders Cup, 2017 The Evian Championship), Annie Park (2018 ShopRite LPGA Classic), Thidapa Suwannapura (2018 Marathon Classic), Lexi Thompson (2017 Kingsmill Championship, 2017 Indy Women in Tech Championship, 2018 CME Group Tour Championship), Amy Yang (2017 Honda LPGA Thailand)
Marcus Allen, Ray Allen, Josh Beckett, Lee Brice, Clay Buchholz, Roger Clemens, Richard Dent, Mark DeRosa, Josh Donaldson, Mardy Fish, Michael Flaskey, Colt Ford, Terry Francona, Eric Gagne, Tom Glavine, Denny Hamlin, John Hart, Danny Kanell, Toby Keith, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Ryan Longwell, Derek Lowe, Greg Maddux, Brian McCann, Kevin Millar, Mark Mulder, Phil Nevin, Bud Norris, Blair O’Neal, Carson Palmer, Patrick Peterson, Chad Pfeifer, AJ Pierzynski, Alfonso Ribeiro, Willie Robertson, Ivan Rodriguez, Jeremy Roenick, Joe Don Rooney, Mark Rypien, Sterling Sharpe, John Smoltz, Cole Swindell, Joe Theismann, Brian Urlacher, Jack Wagner, Tim Wakefield, Michael Waltrip, Larry the Cable Guy
Tournament: @DiamondResorts (Twitter and Instagram), #DiamondLPGA
LPGA: @LPGA, @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram)
TV TIMES (all times Eastern)
Thursday, Jan. 17 – 12-3 p.m., Golf Channel
Friday, Jan. 18 – 12-3 p.m., Golf Channel
Saturday, Jan. 19 – 2-3 p.m., Golf Channel; 3-5 p.m., NBC
Sunday, Jan. 20 – 2-3 p.m., Golf Channel; 3-5 p.m., NBC
Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions Preview via LPGA