Lotte Championship Preview 2021

Lotte Championship Preview 2021

BROOKE HENDERSON GOING FOR RECORDS AT KAPOLEI GOLF CLUB

When Brooke Henderson earned her sixth LPGA Tour victory at the 2018 LOTTE Championship, the Canadian was well on her way to becoming a global golf icon, five months shy of her 21st birthday. At the time, she was two wins short of Sandra Post, Mike Weir and George Knudson for most wins by any Canadian golfer. A year later, Henderson would go on to successfully defend her LOTTE title and tie that record, a moment she remembers fondly.

“That was a huge moment for me to be able to tie the Canadian record here at the LOTTE and then go on later that summer and surpass that record and make a place in history, Canadian history, which is really meaningful to me and definitely a career highlight,” said Henderson, who officially broke the record with her win a few months later at the Meijer LPGA Classic. “I’m just looking forward to the next opportunity to get my win victories into the double digits and hopefully get a few more before my career is over.”

In both LOTTE title victories, Henderson won by four strokes, on a golf course like Ko Olina where she never finished worse than 11th. Her wins and the atmosphere are reasons why she enjoys returning to Hawaii year after year.

“It’s just so nice to wake up in the morning and have a view over the ocean. It just puts everything in perspective. Just makes you feel calm and peaceful, which I think is exactly what we need right now, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to bring that into my game a little bit more over the next few year,” said Henderson. “Just trying to enjoy the process a little bit more and being calm out there.”

Henderson has the opportunity to become the first Tour player to earn a three-peat since Inbee Park at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship from 2013-15. It’s something on the back of Henderson’s mind before she tees off No. 10 on Wednesday at 1:01 p.m. with Angela Stanford and Ariya Jutanugarn.

“it’s definitely a rare opportunity, and so it would be nice to make the most of it. But I’m just really excited for the chance. To be in this position is really cool. I was in it once before in Portland and came up short on the three-peat, but just to have the opportunity, like I said, is really amazing,” said Henderson. “You can only do one shot at a time, especially on a different golf course. There is a lot of learning to it. So just being patient and trying to stick to the game plan.”

DANIELLE KANG MENTALLY RESETS FOR LOTTE CHAMPIONSHIP

If it were up to Danielle Kang, the Rolex Rankings No. 5 player would move to the beautiful paradise of Hawaii. Like many of her fellow competitors, it’s one of her favorite spots on the LPGA Tour schedule every year it’s on the calendar. “I love it here. I’ve been here for over a week actually, so I had a little girls’ trip out here and enjoyed every bit of Hawaii,” said Kang, who remarked it’s unusual for her to take the time away from a competitive mindset. “I feel like I belong here. I want to move here. So I just — I come here and I just feel relaxed and I feel ready to go. It’s kind of the serenity that you can’t feel in certain places. I feel really calm and right where I need to be.”

But as she readies herself for Kapolei Golf Club, Kang opened up on how she’s been working to improve her mental game on the course as she embarks on her eighth appearance at the LOTTE Championship. “I been feeling a little anxious about certain things and there is nothing going on on the golf course. I have a putt for par I’m anxious for something. It’s just creating an unrealistic fear, unrealistic doubts,” said Kang. “So those are the things I’m working on and trying to be the person that I am and figure out how I feel and the way I used to feel.”

Kang said the feelings of doubt have crept in since 2020, as she claimed they haven’t helped or hurt her performances but have become more magnified over the past couple of months.

“I’ve won a tournament feeling the way I felt and I’ve lost a tournament feeling the way I felt,” said the five-time LPGA Tour winner. “So I don’t look at it as a positive or a negative, more so that it’s making me – gives me that little twisted feel and I don’t like that. I want to be able to be in control of how I feel.

While balancing any doubts within herself, she’s becoming more comfortable as she figures her way around a new course at Kapolei. Kang said she agrees it’s more of a second-shot golf course, but she’s up for the windy conditions the week is sure to bring.

“If the conditions are calm I believe that your second shots will be more controlled and there will be lower scores. The greens are really nice and pure and just rolling at a nice speed, not too aggressive, not too timid,” said Kang. “But we’ll see. I mean, I don’t know. I believe it is tougher than Ko Olina depending on how it plays though.”

Kang tees off alongside LPGA Tour winners Georgia Hall and Nasa Hataoka of No. 1 at 8:17 a.m. on Wednesday.

SIRAK: LOTTE CHAMPIONSHIP BEGINS DASH TO OLYMPICS AND SOLHEIM CUP

One indisputable fact about The Year of the Global Pandemic is that normalcy was redefined. For women’s golf, that means for the first time the Olympics and the Solheim Cup are in the same year. That’s because, despite retaining the title Tokyo 2020, the Games were delayed a year. Beginning with this week’s LOTTE Championship, each LPGA Tour stop for the next few months will have an intense game within the game as players try to earn their way to Tokyo and Toledo.

After a week to catch its breath following Patty Tavatanakit’s masterful effort holding off Lydia Ko in the ANA Inspiration, the Tour returns at Kapolei Golf Club in Hawaii. And it’s a safe bet that many in the field of 144 will be checking the Rolex Rankings to see if they will be fitted for a team uniform.

The 60-woman field for the Olympics Aug. 4-7 will include two players per country, unless a player is within the top-15 of the Rolex Rankings, in which case four players will be allowed for that country. Currently, the only two countries qualifying four players are South Korea and the United States.

Following the ANA Inspiration, the top three in the Rolex Rankings were from South Korea – No. 1 Jin Young Ko, No. 2 Inbee Park and No. 3 Sei Young Kim. The next three were from the United States – No. 4 Nelly Korda, No. 5 Danielle Kang and No. 6 Lexi Thompson. South Korea doesn’t have to go far to find its fourth player – No. 8 Hoo-joo Kim – while the USA fills out its squad with No. 12 Jennifer Kupcho.

South Korea, in fact, has two more players within the top 15 and both of them are major championship winners – No. 14 Sung Hyun Park and No. 15 Jeongeun Lee6. The Americans have Austin Ernst sitting at No. 16 and Jessica Korda at No. 20.

With two more majors before qualify ends – the U.S. Women’s Open June 3-6 and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, which ends Olympic Qualifying on June 27, opportunities abound to make a move. South Korea has So Yeon RyuHae Ran RyuHa Na Jang and Mirim Lee all within the top 30 while Americans Amy OlsonAlly EwingStacy Lewis and Lizette Salas are among the top 42.

As of now, the three 2016 medal winners are qualified for the 2021 Olympics – Inbee Park of South Korea, who won the gold; silver medal-winner Lydia Ko of New Zealand and bronze medalist Shanshan Feng of China.

To read more of Ron Sirak’s column on LPGA.com, click here: https://www.lpga.com/news/2021/lotte-championship-begins-dash-to-olympics-and-solheim-cup

BY THE NUMBERS – LOTTE CHAMPIONSHIP

The following statistics were compiled by Amy Mills, Senior Manager of Statistical Research for the LPGA

Brooke Henderson has made four appearances in Hawaii. Since 2015, she is the most under par at -49 playing six of her 16 rounds at 68 or better.

Most Greens in Regulation
LOTTE Championship Since 2015
Brooke Henderson-49
In Gee Chun-34
Ariya Jutanugarn-34
Minjee Lee-33

Brooke Henderson has hit a total of 205 of 288 (71.18%) greens in regulation in her last 16 rounds at the LOTTE Championship. Her two wins and a tie for 10th and 11th place is the best performance by a player during this timeframe.

Most Greens in Regulation
LOTTE Championship Since 2015 – Minimum 250 Holes
Shanshan Feng72.22%
So Yeon Ryu72.22%
Brooke Henderson71.18%
Chella Choi71.11%

Since 2015, Brooke Henderson has the most rounds in the 60s at 10. Henderson has a scoring average of 68.94 at the LOTTE Championship.

Most Rounds in the 60sLOTTE Championship Since 2015
Brooke Henderson10
Ariya Jutanugarn9
Inbee Park8

Lexi Thompson currently ranks second on the LPGA Tour in total birdies made with 83 through five events played. Thompson is averaging 16.6 birdies per event, which is the most for her since the 2017 season (17.6).

Total Birdie Leaders
2021 LPGA Tour Season
Nelly Korda90
Lexi Thompson83
Brooke Henderson78
Danielle Kang75

Jennifer Kupcho ranks inside the top 40 in several key statistics this season from off the tee to the green. Kupcho finished second at the LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala.

Jennifer Kupcho Key Statistics
2021 LPGA Tour Season
 RankValue
Total Driving1st39
Driving Accuracy13th79.08%
Driving Distance26th267.93
Scrambling39th62.71%
Bogey Avoidance19th12.70%

SOCIAL MEDIA: #DRIVEON
Tournament: @LPGALotte
LPGA Tour: @LPGA and @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram)

TV TIMES (all times Eastern on Golf Channel)

  • Wednesday, April 14: 7-11 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 15: 7-11 p.m.
  • Friday, April 16: 7-11 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 17: 7-11 p.m.

LIVESTREAM TIMES (all times Eastern on the NBC Sports App and golfchannel.com)

  • Wednesday, April 14: 7-11 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 15: 7-11 p.m.
  • Friday, April 16: 7-11 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 17: 7-11 p.m.
  • LAST FIVE CHAMPIONS AND RUNNERS-UP
  • 2019: Brooke Henderson, 272 (-16); Eun-Hee Ji, 276 (-12)
  • 2018: Brooke Henderson, 276 (-12); Azahara Munoz, 280 (-8)
  • 2017: Cristie Kerr, 268 (-20); Lydia Ko, In Gee Chun and Su-Yeon Jang, 271 -17)
  • 2016: Minjee Lee, 272 (-16); In Gee Chun and Katie Burnett, 273 (-15)
  • 2015: Sei Young Kim, 277 (-11); defeated Inbee Park on the first playoff hole


TOURNAMENT SCORING RECORDS

  • 18 holes: 62 (-10), Lizette Salas, fourth round, 2013; Cristie Kerr, third round, 2017
  • 36 holes: 129 (-15), Eun-Hee Ji, 2019
  • 54 holes: 199 (-17), Su-Yeon Jang, 2017
  • 72 holes: 268 (-20), Cristie Kerr, 2017

Lotte Championship Preview 2021 via LPGA

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