2023 Honda LPGA Thailand: How to watch, who’s playing as tour kicks off Asian swing


The LPGA is back in action this week after a month-long break and returns with several of the game’s top players – including world No. 1 Lydia Ko — set to make their season debut at the 2023 Honda LPGA Thailand.

New Zealand’s Ko arrives at Siam Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand, riding a wave of momentum that didn’t let up during the 25-year-old’s so-called “offseason.” After finishing 2022 with a win at the CME Group Tour Championship (and collecting Player of the Year and Vare Trophy honors), she rang in the new year with a Dec. 30 wedding to Jun Chung at the Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul, South Korea. She returned to competition last week at the Aramco Saudi Ladies International in Saudi Arabia and seemingly picked up right where she left off – with a win, her second at the event.

Ko’s triumph at the Ladies European Tour-sanctioned event marked the third victory in her last four starts worldwide. She credited the win to an unexpected amount of time spent on the golf course during her honeymoon, which included eight rounds over two weeks and featured an ace by the 19-time LPGA winner.

“My husband loves golf and that’s something that we can mutually do together, so we took advantage of that,” she said. “And actually, thanks to him, it made my transition into offseason practice a lot easier.”

This year marks the 16th playing of the Thailand event, which offers a $1.7 million purse with $255,000 going to the winner. Nanna Koerstz Madsen arrives as the defending champion, having captured the 2022 title in dramatic playoff win over China’s Xiyu Lin to become the first LPGA Tour winner from Denmark.

How to watch the Honda LPGA Thailand

You can watch the 2023 Honda LPGA Thailand on Golf Channel, Peacock, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Here’s the complete TV and streaming schedule:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 22: 10 p.m.-3 a.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
  • Thursday, Feb. 23: 10 p.m.-3 a.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
  • Friday, Feb. 24: 10:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
  • Saturday, Feb. 24: 10:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock

Who’s playing in the 2023 Honda LPGA Thailand

Nine of the top 10 players in the Women’s World Golf Rankings will tee it up at the Honda LPGA Thailand, the second stop of the tour’s 2023 schedule, and five of them will make their first start of the 2023 season. They are (*denotes first start of ’23):

  • Lydia Ko*
  • Nelly Korda
  • Minjee Lee*
  • Atthaya Thitikul*
  • Jin Young Ko*
  • Brooke Henderson
  • In Gee Chun*
  • Hyo-Joo Kim
  • Nasa Hataoka

Of note, Henderson, who finished T-4 last year in Thailand, is already a winner in 2023 after opening with a victory last month at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. Korda last teed it up in Thailand in 2019, when she finished seventh.

Four rookies – all from Thailand — received sponsor exemptions (Jaravee Boonchant, Natthakritta Vongtaveelap, Chanettee Wannasaen and Arpichaya Yubol), as did 17-year-old Japanese amateur Saki Baba, the reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion.

Notable names missing from the field include Lexi Thompson, who finished T-3 over the weekend at the Saudi Ladies International, and 2018 winner Jessica Korda, whose name was removed from the field last week. Thompson, who will also skip next week’s event in Singapore, told reporters she was heading home to Florida to practice. Korda, who turns 30 later this month, missed the final two events of 2022 due to a back injury.

Past winners of the LPGA Thailand

2022 Nanna Koerstz Madsen (Denmark) 26-under 262 won in playoff Xiyu Lin (China)
2021 Ariya Jutanugarn (Thailand) 22-under 266 1 stroke Atthaya Thitikul (Thailand)
2020 No event n/a n/a n/a
2019 Amy Yang (South Korea) 22-under 266 1 stroke Minjee Lee (Australia)
2018 Jessica Korda (USA) 25-under 263 4 strokes Lexi Thompson (USA), Moriya Jutanugarn (Thailand)
2017 Amy Yang (South Korea) 22-under 266 5 strokes So Yeon Ryu (South Korea)


Storylines to follow at the 2023 Honda LPGA Thailand

New partnerships debut: Following a successful year and a half with caddie Derek Kistler, Lydia Ko has a new man on the bag in David Jones, who most recently caddied for Nick Taylor on the PGA Tour. Ko previously partnered with Jones at the 2021 Lotte Championship, where she ended a three-year win drought with a seven-stroke victory. Jones worked for In Gee Chun when she won the 2016 Evian Championship and for Sung Hyun Park during her two major wins (2017 U.S. Women’s Open, 2018 KPMG Women’s PGA).

Also debuting a new partnership is world No. 3 Minjee Lee, who parted ways with veteran caddie Jason Gilroyed after five seasons. Golfweek reported that Lee’s new caddie is fellow Australian Rance De Grussa, who also hails from Perth. De Grussa mostly recently worked for Jason Scrivener on the men’s European Tour.

Countdown to new cut format: While this week’s event features 72 players in a 72-hole, no-cut tournament, players might be thinking about the cutline anyway after the LPGA revealed a change to full-field events for 2023. The Tour announced that beginning with the LPGA Drive-On Championship, set for March 23-26, the 36-hole cut will change from the top 70 players and ties to the top 65 and ties now advancing. The LPGA says it hopes to “establish a faster pace of play” with the change.

Stacy Lewis kicks off Solheim Cup journey: Two-time major winner Stacy Lewis will open her 2023 season in Thailand, where she’ll also make her first appearance wearing the title of U.S. captain for the 2024 Solheim Cup. The 38-year-old, who’s played on four U.S. Solheim Cup teams, will be the youngest ever American captain and second youngest in the matches’ history behind Sweden’s Catrin Nilsmark, who was 36 as Team Europe’s captain in 2003. Lewis has set a lofty goal of serving as a playing captain, and recently told reporters: “I always thought when I was captain I would not be playing,” said the 13-time LPGA winner. “I would say the last two weeks have definitely changed my view on that, coming out the way I’ve played the last month or so.”

Previously at the Honda LPGA Thailand

Nanna Koerstz Madsen drained a dramatic 10-footer for eagle in sudden death to capture her maiden tour title at the 2022 Honda LPGA Thailand, becoming the first LPGA winner from Denmark. Madsen triumphed over China’s Xiyu Lin in a two-hole playoff after the two finished regulation tied at 26-under 262, besting the previous tournament record set by Jessica Korda in 2018 by a stroke.

In 2021, Ariya Jutanugarn became the first player from Thailand to win the event, shooting 63 in the final round to beat fellow Thai Atthaya Thitikul by one stroke. … The event was first played in 2006 at Amata Spring Country Club (won by South Korea’s Hee-Won Han) and moved to Siam Country Club in 2007. … Only two Americans have won the LPGA Thailand: Lexi Thompson in 2016 and Korda in 2018.

More about Siam Country Club’s Pattaya Old Course

Originally designed by Japanese architect Ichisuke Izumi, Siam Country Club’s Old Course opened in 1971 and underwent an extensive renovation Arizona-based design firm Schmidt-Curley Design ahead of the 2013 LPGA Thailand event. The Schmidt-Curley team first worked on the Old Course in 2006-07, rebuilding the course from tee to green, but the more recent project included constructing new greens and bunkers, installing new turf, expanding water hazards and removing about 25 percent of the existing trees. The course plays as a par 72 and stretches to 6,576 yards.

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2023 LPGA Drive On Championship: How to watch, who’s playing in season’s first full-field event

Jin-young Ko of South Korea and Nelly Korda on the 17th tee during the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship.
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The LPGA Tour makes its return to the Arizona desert this week at the 2023 LPGA Drive On Championship at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club. The season’s first full-field event features eight of the world’s top 10 players plus a slew of fresh faces as this year’s rookie class gets its first taste of competition as tour members.

This week’s event features 144 players (plus two Monday qualifiers) competing for the $1.75 million prize purse in a 72-hole tournament that will implement the LPGA’s new cutline policy for the first time. Beginning this week, the 36-hole cut will change from the top 70 players and ties to the top 65 and ties advancing to weekend action. The LPGA says it hopes to “establish a faster pace of play” with the change.”

Arizona last hosted the LPGA for the 2019 Bank of Hope Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club, where Jin Young Ko earned her first of four LPGA titles that season. The tour last played at Superstition Mountain in the Safeway International from 2004 to 2008, where Hall of Famers Annika Sorenstam (2004, 2005) and Lorena Ochoa (2007, 2008) each won twice, and Juli Inkster won in 2006.

The tournament marks the first of four events over the next five weeks (taking off the week of the Masters, April 7-10) and kicks off the crescendo that’s building to the LPGA’s first major of the season, The Chevron Championship, April 20-23 in its new location at The Woodlands, Texas. The 72-hole LPGA Drive On Championship features 144 players, in addition to two Monday qualifiers, who will compete for a $1.75 million purse.

How to watch the 2023 LPGA Drive On Championship

You can watch the 2023 LPGA Drive On Championship on Golf Channel, Peacock, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Check out the complete TV and streaming schedule:

  • Thursday, March 23: 9-11 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Friday, March 24: 9-11 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Saturday, March 25: 6-10 p.m. ET, live stream; 7-9 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Sunday, March 26: 6-10 p.m. ET, live stream; 7-9 p.m. ET, Golf Channel

Who’s playing in the 2023 LPGA Drive On Championship

Sitting out this week are world No. 1 Lydia Ko and No. 5 Minjee Lee, but No. 2 Nelly Korda and No. 3 Jin Young Ko are back in action following Ko’s return to the winner’s circle two weeks ago in Singapore, where she held off Korda by two strokes. Also in the field this week are:

  • No. 4 Atthaya Thitikul
  • No. 6 Lexi Thompson
  • No. 7 Brooke Henderson
  • No. 8 In Gee Chun
  • No. 9 Hyo-Joo Kim
  • No. 10 Nasa Hataoka
  • 2022 major winners Ashleigh Buhai, Jennifer Kupcho, Chun, Henderson

Rookies and Epson Tour graduates making their first starts as LPGA members include 20-year-old Lucy Li, a two-time Epson Tour winner who might be best known for playing the 2014 U.S.  Women’s Open as an 11-year-old; South Korea’s Hae Ran Ryu, who took medalist honors at LPGA Q-Series; and 18-year-old Alexa Pano, who finished tied for 21st at Q School to earn her card but might be best known from her role in the 2013 Netflix documentary, “The Short Game.”

Past winners, history of the Drive On Championship

The Drive On Championship was initially created as a series of LPGA events that marked the tour’s back-to-competition efforts following the pandemic. Each tournament used the “Drive On” slogan in support of the tour’s resilience, beginning with the first series event in July 2020 at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, where Danielle Kang won by one stroke over Celine Boutier. The second event, held in October 2020, replaced the three stops originally scheduled in Asia, and was held at Reynolds Lake Oconee Great Waters Course in Greensboro, Georgia. Ally McDonald captured her career first LPGA title by one stroke over Kang.

The last two “Drive On” events were staged in Florida, at Golden Ocala Golf Club (Ocala) in March 2021 and at Crown Colony Golf Club (Fort Myers) in February 2022. Austin Ernst cruised to her third career title at the 2021 edition, beating Jennifer Kupcho by five shots. The 2022 tournament marked a fresh start for the event (no longer including results or records from the 2020 and 2021 events), where Leona Maguire became the first Irish winner on tour with her victory in 2022.

Last year at the Drive On Championship

Ireland’s Leona Maguire gifted her mom and early birthday present with her first career win at the 2022 LPGA Drive On Championship. A 27-year-old Maguire, a standout at Duke and former No. 1 amateur, carded a final-round 67 to finish at 18-under 198 and won the 54-hole event by three strokes over Lexi Thompson. She became the first woman from Ireland to win on tour, and her 198 tied her career-best 54-hole score.

More about Superstition Mountain

Superstition Mountain’s Prospector Golf Course opened in 1998 and was a combined design effort by Jack Nicklaus and his son Gary. The course plays as a par-72 and stretches to 7,225 yards in length, with the women playing it at 6,526 yards. The course was home of the LPGA Safeway International from 2004-08, and was recently selected by Golfweek as one of the “Top 100 Residential Courses.”

Of note, Superstition Mountain is a female-owned facility, originally purchased in 2009 by Susan Hladky and her husband James, who died in 2011. Hladky has made a point of opening her courses to women and college players, twice hosting U.S. Women’s Open qualifying and the site of a 2025 NCAA women’s regional tournament. She’s also given membership to eight LPGA players, who play out of the club: Carlota Ciganda, Mina Harigae, Dana Finkelstein, Jaclyn Lee, Charlotte Thomas, Caroline Inglis, Jennifer Kupcho and Brianna Do.

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2023 March Madness: Utah Utes engineer dramatic turnaround for third-ever Sweet 16 appearance

Members of the Utah Utes celebrate their win over the Princeton Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Womens Basketball Tournament.
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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The No. 2-seeded Utah (27-4) women’s basketball team held off a pesky 10th-seeded Princeton squad on Sunday, winning 63-56 to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships for the first time since 2005-06 and just the third time in the program’s history.

“I’m proud of our team,” said eighth-year head coach Lynne Roberts after the second-round win at Utah’s Hunstman Center. “We set out to do this a year ago. We lost in this game at University of Texas and the goal was to be able to host (this year) so that we could have that home-court advantage and it made a difference.”

Utah’s fourth-year junior Alissa Pili backed up her recent second-team All-American honor with another 20-plus-point performance, scoring 28 on 8-for 13 shooting with 10 rebounds and going 11-for 13 on free throws. Sophomore forward Jenna Johnson added 15 points and six rebounds.

There’s been a lot of talk this weekend about how the Utes’ previous few seasons have ended – beginning with a rough 14-17 season that was cut short in 2020 due to the pandemic, followed by an abysmal 5-16 record in 2020-21. But the tide turned last year, as Utah rebounded with a 21-12 season that ended with a 78-56 loss to Texas in Austin in the second round of the NCAA tournament one year ago.

So, what changed?

“Last year, everyone was new to the NCAA tournament, so I think everyone was just experiencing it for the first time,” mused Johnson. “Losing in the second round last year, we’re definitely a lot hungrier this year, and then obviously hosting in Salt Lake, it’s fun just being in your own environment, to be around your own fans. I think it gives us an elevated level of confidence, both knowing what it’s like to play in this tournament and also getting to be at home.”

“Yeah, freshman year was kind of rough,” added third-year sophomore Kennady McQueen, who chipped in nine points Sunday. “We did experience losing a lot. … Coach Roberts, she said we are not going to have another season like that. We all stood behind her — the people that stayed — and brought in great people like starting last year with Jenna and Gi (Gianna Kneepkens) and people like that who have had a huge impact in helping us to where we are today. …

“When you get together a group of people that have the same goal in mind and will do make anything to make it happen, I think that’s where we have seen our success rate going up. This past offseason, we just kept getting better, and of course, the addition of the Alissa Pili really helped. When you bring a group of girls that have the same dream and same goal at the end of the year and doesn’t care about personal stats more than winning, I think we get the season that we have today, and it prepares us for deep run in March.”

In particular, McQueen believe it was Utah’s improvement in their defense that was crucial to the turnaround. “Everyone knows how good we are on offense, but if we can’t get stops, it doesn’t matter how good you are on offense,” she said. “So that’s just been a key the whole past off-season and all of this season — just getting better on defense.”

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Roberts credits their defensive improvement with a “philosophical mindset change,” explaining, “We worked on [defense] a lot differently, a lot more intentionally. Strategically we made some changes of how we are going to defend, and I won’t bore you with that. But there was a lot, just different things because you have to play to your strengths. You can’t be a run-and-jump pressing team if you don’t have the depth and athletes to do it. You can’t be a zone team if you are not super big. You have to figure out what fits your personnel, and so that’s what we did.”

There’s also the undeniable impact of Pili, a transfer from USC who has found her stride as a Ute, where she recently was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year.

“She kind of is the straw that stirs the drink for us right now,” Roberts said regarding the 21-year-old Alaska native. “She’s a nightmare to defend because she can shoot the three, and she’s also really athletic and mobile, so it doesn’t matter who we are playing. I think you have to gameplan for her. But then with her three-point shooting, you know, you have to pick your poison.”

But Roberts also gave plenty of kudos to Johnson, whom she describes as “phenomenal.”

“She’s 19 going on 40,” Roberts said of Johnson. “She’s the most mature, even-keeled consistent player we have. What I love about her is she is who she is. She’s confident in who she is. She knows who she is. She also is incredibly busy off the court.

“We were talking as we were getting ready to watch film, just shooting the breeze a bunch of us, we were talking about movies. And she was like, Oh, I don’t watch movies. Why not? I don’t have time. I get bored. What do you mean you don’t have time? Do you watch shows? No, I don’t ever watch TV. It is because she is doing all of these other extracurricular activities.”

As for guiding the Utes to becoming a championship program, Roberts still sees it as an uphill battle – but one that she and her players are ready for.

“I always use the analogy of pushing the boulder up the hill,” she said. “And doing things for the first time, you have to have that mindset. You have to keep pushing. It’s been incredibly fun to see the support, and I think the swell is a perfect word for it. Most importantly, our players feel it.

“This is why you play, right? And it means so much. I know I say it over and over, but this is not going to be a flash-in-the-pan [season]. This isn’t going to be a ‘Oh, remember that year they had such an incredible year?’ We are going to keep doing it.”

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