The $1.5 million ShopRite LPGA Classic concludes Sunday on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club. The Classic began in 1986 and has been held every year since except for a three-year gap from 2007-09.
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 is still in contention for her third straight ShopRite win. Nordqvist is tied for third two shots out of the lead after shooting 64-71 for a 36-hole total of shot a 7-under 135.
Nordqvist 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 could have taken over the No. 1 spot if she finished a solo third or better at the Classic.
But Ryu shot 74-74 and missed the cut with a 36-hole total of 6-over 148. That ended Ryu’s streak 64 straight cuts made — the longest streak on tour. Ironically, the last cut she missed was at the 2014 Classic. Stacy Lewis now has the longest LPGA cut streak with 49 straight made. A native of South Korea, Ryu won the Anna Inspiration major championship in April. She began the Classic leading the tour in scoring average (68.944).
A Classic past
The Classic field is filled with past champions. Among the former winners to play this year are Stacy 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?
None of the past champions are in serious contention. But all made the cut to Sunday’s final round.
Their scores: Webb (70-68-138); Lewis (67-72-139); Kerr (71-69-140); Lincicome (73-68-141); Stanford (75-67-142) and Inkster (71-73-144).
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.
Creamer shot 66-67 and is tied with In-Kyung Kim for the lead with a 36-hole total of 9-under 133. Creamer is looking for her first victory she won the HSBC Women’s Champions in March of 2014.
Meanwhile, Wie scrambled to shoot a 1-under 70 with five birdies and four bogeys Saturday. She is tied for 32nd eight shots back of the leaders.
A rookie to watch
Nelly Korda began this week No. 3 in the race for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award. But she shot 76-73 and missed the cut at ShopRite with a 36-hole total of 7-over 149.
Korda, 18, is the younger sister of four-time LPGA winner Jessica Korda. Nelly had not missed a cut in nine tournaments she played this year. Only the top-70 players, plus ties, after Saturday’s second round make the cut to Sunday. Korda needed to shoot 3-over 145 or better.