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)|
|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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