Kim Hyo-joo leads Korean contingent at LPGA's only match play
After a week long hiatus on the LPGA Tour, 10 Koreans will be teeing off Wednesday for the first round of the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play presented by MGM Rewards as the Tour takes a different turn this week.
World No. 8 Kim Hyo-joo spearheads the contingent as the highest-ranked Korean golfer competing, with Lee Jeong-eun, Chella Choi, Kim A-lim, Chun Young-in, Choi Hye-jin, Ji Eun-hee, Ryu So-yeon, Kang Hye-ji and Jenny Shin joining the field. Kim Hyo-joo is the only of the group to have won an LPGA title this season, at the Lotte Championship in April, while Kim A-lim won the KLPGA Championship on May 1.
World No. 1 Ko Jin-young, No. 9 Park In-bee and No. 10 Kim Sei-young will be sitting out this week.
The Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play is the only match play event on the LPGA Tour. Unlike the more common stroke play, where all golfers compete against each other in an attempt to achieve the fewest strokes at the end of all four rounds, in match play, golfers compete to win each hole.
Regardless of the difference in number of strokes, a player earns one point for a win. If the score is five holes to four, the winning golfer is up by one.
On Wednesday, a total of 64 golfers tee off in the first round of the event as 16 groups of four, playing the second round on Thursday and the third round on Friday.
The 64 players are seeded based on their Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings as of Monday. With world No. 2 Nelly Korda of the United States and No. 3 Lydia Ko of New Zealand skipping the event, No. 4 Minjee Lee of Australia is the highest-ranked player at the tournament and No. 5 Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand is second. Kim Hyo-joo is the third-highest ranked player.
As the top-ranked golfer, Minjee Lee is placed in the first pot with the golfers ranked 32nd, 33rd and 64th, Thitikul is placed in the second pot with those ranked 31st, 34th and 63rd and Kim Hyo-joo is placed in the third pot with the 30th, 35th and 62nd ranked competitors.
After three days of round-robin matches, the 16 winners of each group advance to the next round on Saturday, where they play in eight groups of two. Later the same day, the eight winners play as four groups of two. On Sunday, the four winners of each group will play as two groups of two to determine the two golfers advancing to the final later that day.
The defending champion for the event is Ally Ewing of the United States, who defeated Sophia Popov of Germany two-and-one, meaning Ewing won two more holes than Popov and achieved victory on the 17th hole, not having to play the last two holes because she already had an insurmountable lead.
The Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play runs from Wednesday to Sunday.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]