Honda LPGA Thailand Preview 2019
LPGA TRAVELS TO SOUTHEAST ASIA FOR WEEK FOUR OF THE 2019 SEASON
The world’s best female golfers head to Chonburi, Thailand for the 2019 Honda LPGA Thailand, held at Siam Country Club Pattaya’s Old Course. This week marks the third consecutive week of tournament action and the first of a two-week stretch in Asia.
The international 70-player field represents 15 different countries and includes nine of the top 10 players on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu from Republic of Korea are both making their 2019 season debuts this week.
Defending champion Jessica Korda announced earlier this week on social media that she is unable to defend her title in Thailand and withdrew from the event due to injury. “Unfortunately, my recovery from my forearm injury has taken longer than we expected.” Korda hopes to kick off the 2019 season when the LPGA returns stateside for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup in Phoenix, Ariz.
Korda earned her fifth LPGA Tour victory at the 2018 Honda LPGA Thailand, setting the 72-hole tournament scoring record with a score of -25 at Siam C.C.’s Old Course. Her four-stroke victory over Moriya Jutanugarn and Lexi Thompson came not too long after a traumatic jaw surgery.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME FOR NO. 1 ARIYA JUTANUGARN
Reigning World No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn undoubtedly amazes fans at every stop of the LPGA Tour around the world but her trip back to Thailand, her home, is one destination that is near and dear to her heart. Making her third start of the 2019 season, Jutanugarn feels the unfaltering support at Siam Country Club Pattaya and hopes to provide her fans with a great performance.
“I’m going to say I always love being back here because all of the fans here, they give the best support ever,” said Jutanugarn who is making her eleventh career appearance at the Honda LPGA Thailand. “Every time I still get nervous, every time because there are so many fans coming to cheer for me. So there’s are a little extra expectations, but I’m hoping to do my best every week.”
Jutanugarn couldn’t name just one thing that makes the week at home special for her but the 10-time LPGA Tour champion was not shy about sharing where her focus lies outside the golf course.
“To be honest, I love the food here, so I’m going out and keep having good food all the time.” Her favorite Thai dish? “I would go with fried fish with fish sauce. That’s my favorite ever. I love that one.”
Jutanugarn will tee off at 9:50 a.m. on No. 1 with 2016 Honda LPGA Thailand winner Lexi Thompson and 2018 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Jin Young Ko.
SUNG HYUN PARK AND SO YEON RYU MAKE FIRST 2019 START
While Ariya Jutanugarn and Minjee Lee jump-started their season with two events already on record, Republic of Korea’s So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park are both making their season debut in the Land of Smiles.
“I feel really great to be here,” said Ryu who had a runner-up finish at the 2017 Honda LPGA Thailand. “I’m really happy to be back to the road and looking forward to meeting a lot of Thai fans this week.”
For Park, spending several “golf-free” weeks to travel without picking up any clubs was the key to mentally prepare for a strong start to her third season on the LPGA Tour.
“Last year, I felt a little uncomfortable with my game at the beginning of the season and also felt a lot of pressure,” said the world No. 2, who finished T22 at Siam C.C. last year. “This year I’d just like to get comfortable. So that’s what’s going to be different this season-just staying comfortable throughout the season.”
FIRST LPGA TOUR CAREER START FOR ROOKIE PAJAREE ANANNARUKARN
Ever since2019 LPGA Tour rookie Pajaree Anannarukarn started playing golf, she looked up to the Jutanugarn sistersas role modelsand made it her life goal to make it to the LPGA Tour, just like her heroes have done. Anannarukarn will make her LPGA Tour debut as a professional, playing with American Emma Talley and Republic of Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim in Round 1 of the Honda LPGA Thailand.
“I’ve been coming here to the tournament and watching them play, ever since I started playing golf when I was eight or nine years old,” said the 19-year-old from Bangkok, Thailand. “I was very inspired because they were still young and playing as professionals. They were my inspiration and that’s what motivated me and now I get to play with them, so it’s very special.”
In 2018, Anannarukarn played a full season on the Symetra Tour with four top-10 finishes and placed T39 at the inaugural LPGA Q-series, locking up her LPGA Tour card for the 2019 season.
“I feel very lucky that this day has come. I’m very excited because even though it’s my second time playing in the Honda LPGA Thailand, it’s more special because it’s the first as a pro LPGA player. Playing on the LPGA Tour is like a dream come true so I’m looking forward to having a great year out her.”
TOURNAMENT SCORING RECORDS
18 holes: 62, Jessica Korda (second round), 2018
36 holes: 128, Jessica Korda, 2018
54 holes: 196, Jessica Korda, 2018
72 holes: 263, Jessica Korda, 2018
Tournament: @hondalpgath (Twitter), @hondalpgathailand (Instagram); #HondaLPGAThailand2019, #DreamBig
LPGA: @LPGA, @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram)
TV TIMES (all times Eastern)
Wednesday, Feb. 20 to Thursday, Feb. 21 – 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., Golf Channel
Thursday, Feb. 21 to Friday, Feb. 22 – 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., Golf Channel
Friday, Feb. 22 to Saturday, Feb. 23 – 11:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m., Golf Channel
Saturday, Feb. 23 to Sunday, Feb. 24 – 11:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m., Golf Channel
LPGA PLAYERS GIVE BACK TO LOCAL THAI SCHOOL
As a part of Honda’s ongoing commitment to social responsibility, the LPGA Tour’s Shanshan Feng, Nasa Hataoka, Benyapa Niphatsophon, kid-loving Ariya Jutanugarn and Thai amateurs Atthaya Thitikul, Ribka Vania visited Klet Kaeo Elementary School on Tuesday to deliver educational materials to a group of students. The players spent their time interacting with children and painting the playground with a fresh coat of paint.
Players will also participate in various charitable activities throughout the week, such as “Beat the Pro,” which will generate proceeds that will go toward the organization’s CSR programs. Players have also donated items for the tournament’s Charity Night, which aims to generate proceeds for the Siriraj Foundation, benefitting Siriraj Hospital.
PLAYERS MODEL MODERN THAI SILK DRESSES
Opportunities to get dolled up don’t come as frequently as one may think for LPGA Tour major winners Paula Creamer, In Gee Chun, Georgia Hall and sponsor invites Muni He, Suzuka Yamaguchi, and Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras, who played a little dress up in modern Thai dresses, custom designed and fitted for each player.
The dresses were fashioned by Thai silk designer Passa Jeeranuntakij, known for her stylish silk dresses and swimwear. Each dress was form fitting and adorned each player, displaying magnificent colors and silk designs that enhanced their natural grace and poise.
RACE TO THE CME GLOBE UPDATE
Last week’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open winner Nelly Korda leads the 2019 Race to the CME Globe with 690 points, followed by 2019 winners Celine Boutier in second with 549 points and Eun-Hee Ji in third with 500 points.
The 2019 season brings a fresh face to the Race to the CME Globe. LPGA Members will accumulate points at each official LPGA Tour event leading up to the CME Group Tour Championship. The top 60 points earners and ties will then earn a spot in the CME Group Tour Championship, with the entire field competing for the $5 million purse and the $1.5 million winner’s check, the largest single prize in the history of women’s golf.
Tournament: @hondalpgath (Twitter), @hondalpgathailand (Instagram); #HondaLPGAThailand, #DreamBig
LPGA: @LPGA, @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram)
Honda LPGA Thailand Preview 2019 via LPGA TOUR