*The LPGA returns to a familiar venue this week as they get ready to begin play in Oahu, HI at the Ko Olina Golf Club. The Lotte Championship is one of five new events added onto the 2012 schedule. The ladies are familiar with the course however as it was a tour spot from 1990-1995 and 2006-2008. Action will start a day early as the tournament will run Wednesday through Saturday. 144 women are in the field with a $1.7 million purse.
*Michelle Wie once called Ko Olina Golf Club her home course when she was growing up in Honolulu. Though she has spent the last several years living in California while attending Stanford, no doubt she will draw a huge home crowd. She will tee off the first two days with Lexi Thompson and Jessica Korda. While both are still in the their teens they can already claim LPGA victories in their young careers. Thompson won the Navistar Classic last year and Korda won the Australian Open at the start of this season. Hard to believe that at age 22 Wie will be the veteran of the group. For Wie hopefully this will be the week where she gets her mojo back. She has missed the cut in the past two events that she has played including the first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Set to graduate in June, Wie took her final exams just a few weeks ago. With her schooling behind her the focus can now turn to resembling the world class golfer that her fan base and more importantly her sponsors are used to seeing. (Got to love those KIA commercials). The Kraft Nabisco was the first event where she gave up the belly putter that she had been using since last summer. Now using a more conventional style putter hopefully she can regain her confidence in the one area that tends to drag her game down.
“I just think I over-think things,” Wie said as she missed the cut at Kraft Nabisco. “It takes me to places where I try too hard.”
Her best finish on the year so far is T-38 at the Honda LPGA Thailand and Wie has only broken par once in the last 12 rounds.
*Though Sun Young Yoo had the victory jump into Poppie’s Pond after winning the Kraft Nabisco, it is I.K. Kim who has undergone the most scrutiny in the past few weeks. She missed a 1 foot putt that would have given her the championship. She then ended up in a playoff with Yoo which Yoo went on to win on the first playoff hole. Kim however has done an amazing job of pushing through and it appears that she has put the loss behind her. Kim is in Hawaii for this week’s tournament and spoke about moving forward.
“I was upset about what happened, but at the same time, I looked back at the experience, and I had so much fun playing the back nine with a chance to win a major,” Kim said. “The game’s a journey, a process, and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, and I look forward to the opportunities I will have.”
Kim has won three times in her five years on tour and should be more remembered for donating her entire first place check from the 2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational to charity. She is currently ranked 5th in the world and is one of the most consistent players in the field. Hard to believe that she won’t collect at least one major championship before her career is over.
Lotte Championship TV Schedule:
April 18th 6:30-11pm EST Golf Channel
April 19th 6:30-9:30pm EST Golf Channel
April 20th 6:30-9:30pm EST Golf Channel
April 21st 7:00-10:00pm EST Golf Channel