The $1.5 million ShopRite LPGA Classic will be held for 29th time Friday-Sunday on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club.
Here are five storylines to following during the 54-hole event, which is one of the major highlights of the southern New Jersey sports scene.
A Nordqvist three-peat?
Anna Nordqvist has won the Classic the past two years. She shot an 8-under par 205 to win by a stroke in 2015. Nordqvist tied the tournament record with a 17-under 196 to win by a shot last year. The Swedish native is trying to become the first player to win three straight Classics. Nordqvist is also trying to join Annika Sorenstam and Betsy King as the only golfers to win three Classics.
In pursuit of No. 1
So Yeon Ryu is No. 2 in the Rolex Women’s Golf World Rankings. Lydia Ko, the No. 1 player, is skipping the Classic. Ryu can close ground on Ko with a strong performance at the Classic. Ryu, a native of South Korea, won the Anna Inspiration major championship in April. She leads the tour in scoring average (68.944) and is currently No. 1 in the Rolex Player of the Year point race.
A Classic past
The Classic field is filled with past champions. Among the former winners to play this year are Stacey Lewis (2014 and 2012), Cristie Kerr (2004), Karrie Webb (2013), Angela Stanford (2003) Juli Inkster (1986 and 1988) and Brittany Lincicome (2011). Can these past champions contend this weekend?
A rookie to watch
Nelly Korda began this week No. 3 in the race for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award. Korda, 18, is the younger sister of four-time LPGA winner Jessica Korda. Nelly has not missed a cut in nine tournaments. She finished tied for ninth at last week’s LPGA Volvik Championship in Michigan.
Creamer and Wie
Both Paula Creamer and Michelle Wie have long relationships with the Classic. Wie played in the 2003 event as a 13-year-old. Creamer finished second in 2004 as a 17-year-old amateur. Both are back this year and both are seeking their first wins of 2017.