ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open
Round 4 - Ha Na Jang wins Australian OpenFebruary 19, 2017
Ha Na Jang has won the 2017 ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open with an eagle and a birdie on the last two holes. She started the day four shots off the lead and carded a 4-under 69 for a 282 total three shots in front of second place Nanna Madsen. This is her fourth win on the LPGA Tour following the Coates Golf Championship, HSBC Women's Champions and Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship in 2016.
“The first hole I was very nervous on the tee because I want to make birdie at every hole, more aggressive and try that. The second shot was a really big miss, a little topping of my ball and after hole number 1 it's really tough day, because every hole par, par, make par, and then just I talk to caddie, it's like, “Okay, I try just be patient every hole,” said Jang. “Really good score in the after rounds, like after hole number 12, hit a really good birdie 13 and 14 and it really, the topping at hole number 17 is equal, and at 18 it's a really good strong finish, that's why it's good sport today.”
Three Aussie players finished in the top-10: Minjee Lee (T3, -6), Sarah Jane Smith (T3, -6) and Hannah Green (T7, -5).
Quote of the day
“But every hole is happy, you know why, my hit driver 300 yard, because it's long on the fairway. Always looking, oh, 300 yards, oh it looks like little girl's Bubba Watson. That's funny.”
Round 3 - Salas takes lead into final roundFebruary 18, 2017
Lizette Salas is heading into the final round 2 shots ahead of Su Oh, Sarah Jane Smith and Pornanong Phatlum after shooting 2-under 71 in round 3.
Can the Aussies do it?
Five Australian players are T16 or better on the leaderboard heading into the final round - Su Oh (T2, -8), Sarah Jane Smith (T2, -8), Minjee Lee (T16, -3), Rebecca Artis (T16, -3) and Hannah Green (T16, -3). Australians are hoping to capture their national open for the first time since five-time Open champion Karrie Webb in 2014.
More behind the win
Lizette Salas has plenty of motivation to pull away with the win in Australia. Salas is looking for her first win in three years, her first overseas and her first one in front of her father who is here in Adelaide this week. She also mentioned that it would mean a lot to bounce back from a tough 2016 in which she had zero top-10 finishes for the first time in her professional career.
World top-10 make moves
All four players ranked inside the top-10 of the current Rolex Rankings who are in the field improved their position on the leaderboard on Saturday. No. 6 Ha Na Jang has seemingly the best chance of the four to win sitting four strokes back of the lead at 6-under. No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn has been steady and moved to 4-under par after a third round 71. The duo of World No. 1 Lydia Ko and No. 8 Brooke Henderson will go off together at 10:20am local time on Sunday after both shot even-par rounds to stick in a tie for 35th at even for the tournament.
Henderson sisters ride solo
Brooke and Brittany Henderson took to the course early on Saturday as the first “group” out in Round 3. Because of the odd number of players to make the cut (75) Henderson played on her own for the first time in her career and brisked through 18 holes in just over three hours, shooting even par with one birdie and one bogey.
Henderson: “It took a little while to get the rhythm right because you’re normally waiting for other players and you have a little bit more time to process things, but at the end of the day it worked out really well and now I have the rest of the day to go experience Glenelg and Adelaide.”
Lizette Salas became a Rolex First Time Winner at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship - Salas has made 63 starts with three top-10 finishes since her victory, including a runner-up showing at the 2015 Meijer LPGA Classic.
Lizette Salas holds at least a share of the lead heading into the final round for the fourth time in her career. In the previous three instances she finished no worse than runner-up while recording her lone career victory at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.
The last time two different players from the same country won in back-to-back tournaments was October of 2016 when In-Kyung Kim won the Reignwood LPGA Classic and Ha Na Jang followed with a win at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship. American Brittany Lincicome was the winner of the first event of the year at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic.
Jiyai Shin holds the Australian Open tournament scoring record since becoming an LPGA event in 2012, shooting 18-under par during her win in 2013.
Victoria’s Su Oh, winner of the 2015 RACV Australian Ladies Masters on the LET, had two top-10 finishes on the LPGA in her rookie season in 2016 including a career-best solo second at the Kingsmill Championship, helping her finish fourth in the Rolex Rookie of the Year race.
Su Oh finished T13 representing Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympic alongside Minjee Lee (T7).
Sarah Jane Smith has finished as a runner-up twice in her career, most recently at the 2016 Citi Banamex Lorena Ochoa Invitational presented by AeroMexico and Delta.
The last Australian player to win on the LPGA Tour was Minjee Lee at the 2016 Blue Bay LPGA.
2009 rookie Pornanong Phatlum has 23 top-10s in her eight years on Tour, including five in 2016 (four inside the top-5) along with a T5 finish at the season-opening 2017 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. Phatlum has come close to breaking through, four-times finishing runner-up, including a season-best second place finish at the 2016 HSBC Women’s Champions. Phatlum won the 2012 HSBC Brasil Cup, an unofficial event on the LPGA Tour.
A win this week would put Pornanong Phatlum over the $3 million career earnings mark and would make her the 94th player in LPGA history to earn at least $3 million.
Pornanong Phatlum finished T25 representing Thailand at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games alongside Ariya Jutanugarn (WD).
Sitting two shots off of the lead at 7-under, Canada’s Maude-Aimee LeBlanc has never posted a top-10 result on the LPGA Tour - LeBlanc’s best career finish came at the 2016 Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and O-I (T11).
Defending Australian Open champion Haru Nomura has posted back-to-back 69s to climb back up the leaderboard after starting the week with a 2-over 75 on Thursday. Nomura could become the only player to repeat as champion at the Australian Open since it became an LPGA event in 2012 (Yani Tseng repeated as champion in 2010 & 2011). Last season, Canada’s Brooke Henderson (Cambia Portland Classic) and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist (ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer) were the only two players to defend an LPGA title.
Rolex Rankings No. 6 Ha Na Jang put herself right back in the hunt with a 3-under 70 on Saturday and sits four back of the lead. After becoming a Rolex First Time Winner at the 2016 COATES Golf Championship Presented by R+L CARRIERS, Jang won twice more and ranked third on Tour in wins last season behind Ariya Jutanugarn (5) and Lydia Ko (4).
Ha Na Jang was one of six Korean players to win on Tour in 2016 - the Republic of Korea racked up nine wins in 2016, the most of any country.
Of the 13 players that are within five shots of the lead, three have won on the LPGA Tour - Lizette Salas (1 win), Haru Nomura (2 wins) and Ha Na Jang (3 wins). There were an LPGA record nine Rolex First-Time Winners in 2016.
Through three rounds, two of the final three holes at Royal Adelaide Golf Club rank the amongst the toughest for tournament competitors – the par-3 16th ranks 2nd and the par-4 18th ranks 3rd. The par-4 6th hole has ranked as the toughest overall hole of the week.
Quote of the day
On the 18th tee on Saturday, a five dollar bill came loose from a fan’s pocket and blew onto the tee box in front of Ha Na Jang. Without hesitation, Jang stalked the bank bill and covered it with her driver, exclaiming “Mine!” as she pocketed the note and drew a laugh from the crowd. Jang then jogged back over to the young fan and reimbursed him.
Jang: “I love that. Great fun. It creates people (interest) to come to the golf course and always have more fun.”
Round 2 - Smith takes half-way lead in AdelaideFebruary 17, 2017
Sarah Jane Smith holds the 36-hole lead at 9-under ahead of a packed leaderboard. Caroline Hedwall, Marissa Steen, Lizette Salas and Pornanong Phatlum all sit just one shot behind.
Four Australian players are T13 or better on the leaderboard after Round 2 - Sarah Jane Smith (1, -9), Katherine Kirk (T6, -7), Hannah Green (T9, -6), and Rebecca Artis (T13, -5). Australian Olympians Minjee Lee (-4) and Su Oh (-3) are still within striking distance. Five-time Australian Open champion Karrie Webb missed the cut finishing at 3-over par.
Close call for players inside World Top-10
All four players ranked inside the top-10 of the current Rolex Rankings who are in the field finished above the cutline, but none sit closer than six shots off of the second-round lead. World No. 1 Lydia Ko and No. 8 Brooke Henderson both shot over-par rounds to finish right on the cut number at even par. No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn stands at 2-under and No. 6 Ha Na Jang is 3-under.
A cut above
75 players finished above the cutline of even par on Friday.
Wie battles through back spasms
Michelle Wie told reporters she woke up with a stiff back on Friday morning and was dealing with back spasms throughout the day. Wie started her round off with a double bogey on the 10th and was 3-over through her first four holes, but grinded and finished the day at 2-under to sit at -5 for the tournament. Wie’s round was highlighted by an eagle on the par-4 1st where she holed out from 86 yards with a lob wedge.
Salas focused on Solheim Cup
Two-time Solheim Cup veteran Lizette Salas hopes to make it onto her third U.S. roster at the biennial team match play event this August. Salas is currently 24th in the USA Solheim Cup points standings, but says she “feels like she’s in a good place right now” with her game. A top-20 finish this week would be a big boost towards making the roster as points are increased by one-third during this year’s tournaments, and doubled for the season’s majors.
Salas: “Even though I’m pretty down there, it’s not impossible. I could still make it. I know I could still play in those types of conditions.”
Sarah Jane Smith holds at least a share of the lead after 36 holes for the second time in her career, with the first coming at the 2016 Citi Banamex Lorena Ochoa Invitational presented by AeroMexico and Delta.
Sarah Jane Smith’s has finished as a runner-up twice in her career, most recently at the 2016 Citi Banamex Lorena Ochoa Invitational presented by AeroMexico and Delta.
Sarah Jane Smith has competed in this tournament every year since it became an LPGA event in 2012, with her best finish coming in 2013 (T15).
The last Australian player to win on the LPGA Tour was Minjee Lee at the 2016 Blue Bay LPGA.
Karrie Webb missed the cut in the Australian Open for the first time ever in her 21 career appearances in the event since 1994.
Two-time Karrie Webb Scholarship winner Hannah Green is three back of the lead at 6-under par. In her first season as a professional on the ALPG, Green has two wins and ranks first on the Tour’s current Order of Merit.
Of the 12 players that are currently T9 or better, only two have won on the LPGA Tour - Katherine Kirk (2 wins) and Lizette Salas (1 win). There were nine Rolex First-Time Winners in 2016.
American Lizette Salas is seeking her second career LPGA Tour victory - Salas won the 2014 Kingsmill Championship presented by JTBC. There were two tournaments won by American players overall in 2016.
Michelle Wie is vying for fifth career win and her 50th career top-10 finish this week. Her last win came at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open and her last top-10 came at the 2016 Blue Bay LPGA (T10).
India’s Aditi Ashok bounced back from a 1-over 74 on Thursday with a 3-under 70 in the second round to make the cut in the first start of her 2017 rookie season. Ashok sits seven shots back of the lead in a tie for 39th.
With a win this week, Amy Boulden would become the first player from Wales to win on the LPGA Tour. Boulden is three shots back of the 36-hole lead at 6-under par.
Brooke Henderson will play solo on Saturday in the first tee time of the day at 7:20 a.m. local time. All players will go off of the first tee in groups of two tomorrow, with Caroline Hedwall and Sarah Jane Smith featured in the final pairing at 1:30 p.m.
Quote of the day
“It hurts to miss any cut. I don’t like that at all.”
- Karrie Webb when asked what it’s like to miss the cut for the first time in 21 starts at the Australian Open
Round 1 - Katherine Kirk takes lead in native AustraliaFebruary 16, 2017
Katherine Kirk has made the most of the ideal conditions and taken the early lead at Royal Adelaide Golf Club with a bogey-free 8-under par 65.
“I had a lot of birdie chances. I think I hit maybe 16 greens, 15 greens, so that helps. But I had a couple of tap-ins too for birdie,” explained Kirk. “There are low numbers to be had out there. There are a lot of birdie opportunities. I was just fortunate I got off to a good start and just kept the momentum going.”
Kirk is a 14-year veteran of the LPGA and has had no win on Tour since 2010. She is currently 2 shots ahead of Min Lee, Chella Choi, Marissa Steen and Jane Park, all at 6-six under-par.
Aussies in the hunt
Four Australian players are T17 or better on the leaderboard after Round 1 - Katherine Kirk (1, -8), Hannah Green (T9, -4), Sarah Jane Smith (T17, -3) and Su Oh (T17, -3). Australian Olympian Minjee Lee is not too far off at 1-under. Five-time Australian Open champion Karrie Webb shot a 3-over 76 on Thursday.
Smooth start for World's best
World No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 2-under 71 in her first round of 2017 and sits six shots off the lead in a tie for 25th. All four players ranked inside the top-10 of the current Rolex Rankings who are in the field shot under par on Thursday: No. 8 Brooke Henderson (T9, -4), No. 6 Ha Na Jang (T17, -3) and No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (T41, -1).
All ten of the Symetra Tour’s Volvik Race to the Card graduates from 2016 are in the field this week. Marissa Steen (T2) leads that group at 6-under par. Seven of the ten players shot even par or better Thursday, with three of the ten currently standing T17 or better after Day 1.
From the force to the fairway
Scotland’s Michele Thomson, who sits tied for sixth at 5-under after the first round, is making her first LPGA start this week. In 2009, Thomson decided to take a break from the game to pursue a career in the police force before returning to the game as a full time professional player in 2014. Last year, Thomson finished fourth on the LET Access Tour Order of Merit to secure her full card on the LET for 2017.
LPGA airs two new ad spots
Two of the LPGA’s new ad spots will debut during coverage of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. The campaign launched on January 26th and highlights the global reach of the LPGA Tour and the youth of its top players. This week, one commercial featuring Lydia Ko and another asking players, “How do you describe a champion golfer?” will appear on Golf Channel’s telecast.
To learn more and view the ads, visit: http://www.lpga.com/news/lpga-launches-2017-ad-campaign-on-golf-channel
Katherine Kirk is the first Aussie to have at least a share of the first-round lead at the Australian Open since Aussie Sarah Kemp shared the first round lead with Stacy Lewis in 2012.
Katherine Kirk has two career LPGA victories - the 2010 Navistar LPGA Classic and the 2008 CN Canadian Women’s Open. Kirk has made 142 starts with eight top-10 finishes since her last win heading into this week.
Katherine Kirk’s best result in 2016 was a T21 finish at the Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and O-I.
Only three Australian players have won an Australian Open title - Karrie Webb (5), Jan Stephenson (1) and Jane Crafter (1). Webb is the only Aussie to win the tournament since it became an LPGA event in 2012.
Of the 16 players that are currently T10 or better, only four have won on the LPGA Tour - Katherine Kirk (2 wins), Chella Choi (1 win), Lizette Salas (1 win) and Brooke Henderson (3 wins).
Republic of Korea’s Chella Choi is seeking her second career LPGA Tour victory - Choi won the 2015 Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and O-I. There were nine tournaments won by Korean players in 2016, the most of any country last year.
Americans are poised to contend for a second consecutive win on the LPGA Tour - in 2016, there were two American winners overall (Lexi Thompson, Brittany Lang). Jane Park (T2, -6), Marissa Steen (T2, -6), Lizette Salas (T6, -5), Marina Alex (T9, -4), Ally McDonald (T9, -4) and Lindy Duncan (T9, -4) are all within four shots of the current lead.
Marissa Steen won three times on the Symetra Tour in 2014 and earned Player of the Year honors. Steen, who played through cracked ribs during her rookie season on the LPGA Tour in 2015, returned to the Symetra Tour in 2016 where she would finish eighth in the Volvik Race to the Card to regain full-time LPGA status.
Defending Australian Open champion Haru Nomura posted a 2-over 75 on Thursday. No player has successfully defended this event since it joined the LPGA Tour in 2012, with five different winners hailing from five different countries in that time span.
Karis Davidson, Australia’s top-ranked amateur, is the low amateur after the first round after shooting a 1-under 72. Davidson qualified for the Australian Open by virtue of her win in the Australian Junior Championship in 2016.
Michelle Wie sits five back of the current lead after shooting a bogey-free 70 in her first round since switching to “the claw” putting grip.
Quote of the day
“Actually, the first year that I played in Australia, that was in Melbourne, the Royal Melbourne, there is a gallery come and say to me, “Good luck Minjee” and I was like, okay, thank you very much, but the next hole he realised that I’m not Minjee, “So, sorry, still good luck to you”. I was like, thank you. I want to let people know that I am Min Lee, I am from Taiwan.”
- Chinese Taipei’s Min Lee humorously on if she gets confused for Minjee Lee in Minjee’s home country of Australia