The inaugural JM Eagle LA Championship premiers this week at a familiar venue — Wilshire Country Club, host of the LA Open from 2018-22 — and marks the second LPGA event to be played in the Los Angeles area this season (the DIO Implant LA Open was played at Palos Verdes GC earlier this month). Coming off the season’s first major, The Chevron Championship, the field features a formidable lineup of ranked stars including eight of the top 10 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, headlined by No. 1 Nelly Korda, who wrested the top spot away from Lydia Ko last week after Ko missed the cut at The Chevron Championship, and Chevron champion and world No. 4 Lilia Vu.
“It’s starting to feel real now, but waking up on Monday, it didn’t feel real,” Vu told media at Wilshire CC on Tuesday following her playoff win over Angel Yu at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands, Texas. “I felt like I was dreaming because I had a pretty tough weekend, and I didn’t really feel like I was in the tournament until basically 17 and 18 happened, and then I was back in it again. Yeah, I just couldn’t believe it, to be honest.”
The 25-year-old Vu, who also won the Honda LPGA Thailand in February for her first career LPGA victory, said she was happy to be coming back to consciousness at a place she called “nostalgic.” The former UCLA Bruins standout recalled having weekly 6:30 a.m. practices at Wilshire CC while in school, and she shared a little insight into her strategy for the week: “It’s just another target golf course. You want to drive it well off the tee; you want to keep it below the pin. I think it’s going to be pretty difficult and fun, though.”
The total purse for the LA Championship is $3 million — one of the largest purses for a non-major on the LPGA Tour this season — with the winner taking home $450,000. The field of 144 will be cut to the low 65 players and ties after 36 holes.
How to watch the 2023 JM Eagle LA Championship
You can watch the 2023 JM Eagle LA Championship on Golf Channel, Peacock, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Check out the complete TV and streaming schedule:
- Thursday, April 27: 6:30-9:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
- Friday, April 28: 6:30-9:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
- Saturday, April 29: 6-9 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
- Sunday, April 30: 6-9 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
Who’s playing in the 2023 JM Eagle LA Championship
The 144-player field includes eight of the top 10 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings:
- No. 1 Nelly Korda, eight-time LPGA winner, five top 10s in 2023
- No. 3 Jin Young Ko, winner of the 2023 HSBC Women’s World Championship
- No. 4 Lilia Vu, two-time winner in 2023
- No. 5 Atthaya Thitikul, 2022 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year
- No. 6 Minjee Lee, two-time major champion (2021 Evian, 2022 U.S. Women’s Open)
- No. 8 Brooke Henderson, 13-time LPGA winner including 2023 Tournament of Champions
- No. 9 Celine Boutier, winner of the 2023 LPGA Drive On Championship
- No. 10 Georgia Hall, two-time LPGA winner
UCLA, USC alums feeling at home at Wilshire CC: Six UCLA alumni are in the field, including Bronte Law, Alison Lee, Ryann O’Toole, Patty Tavatanakit, Mariajo Uribe and Vu. The University of Southern California boasts seven alums in the field: Jennifer Chang, Allisen Corpuz, Muni He, Annie Park, Lizette Salas, Jennifer Song and Gabriella Then.
Sponsor invites include U.S. Solheim Cup assistant captain: Los Angeles resident, 2007 Evian Masters champ and current U.S. Solheim Cup Team assistant captain Natalie Gulbis is among three sponsor invites this week and will play her first event since the 2022 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational last July (missed cut). Gulbis retired from the tour following the 202 season. Other sponsor invites are Epson Tour winner Muni He and University of Oregon alum Heather Lin. Additionally, South Korea’s Mi Hyang Lee and Wake Forest alum Allison Emrey earned their spots through Monday qualifying.
Previous LPGA winners at Wilshire CC
Wilshire Country Club previously served as host of the DIO Implant LA Open from 2018-2022 (skipped in 2020 due to the pandemic), and all four past winners at Wilshire CC are in this week’s field. We take a quick look at the past champions and how their 2023 seasons are going:
2022: Nasa Hataoka won in 2022 by five strokes over Hannah Green. Hataoka has made six starts this season, making all six cuts and recording two top 10s (solo fifth at Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, T-7 at DIO Implant LA Open).
2021: Brooke Henderson won in 2021 by one shot over Jessica Korda. Henderson has made five cuts in six starts this season, winning the season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions and notching one other top-15 finish, a T-11 at the LOTTE Championship.
2019: Australia’s Minjee Lee bested Sei Young Kim by four shots to win in 2019. This week marks Lee’s fourth start of the season, with her best finish through three events being T-41 last week at The Chevron.
2018: Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn won at Wilshire in 2018 by two shots over Inbee Park and Jin Young Ko. Jutanugarn has made six starts this season with her best finish being T-7 at the LPGA Drive On Championship. She missed the cut last week at The Chevron.
Bonus rewind: 2001 Office Depot Championship: Wilshire CC hosted the 2001 Office Depot (an LPGA event from 1997-2005), won by Annika Sorenstam. Sorenstam, who had become the first player in LPGA history to shoot 59 just one month prior, tied two more LPGA records with her win: largest final-round comeback (10 strokes) and most consecutive wins in scheduled events (four). The Swedish Hall of Famer defeated South Korea’s Mi Hyun Kim on the first playoff hole and said afterward, “I needed a miracle, and I got it. I just can’t believe it’s happening to me this year. I don’t know if I really deserve all this. It’s unbelievable.”
More about Wilshire Country Club
Wilshire Country Club was founded in 1919 by a group of prominent Los Angeles businessmen on land owned by George Allan Hancock, owner of the Rancho La Brea Oil Company. The course was designed by Norman Macbeth and officially opened in December 1920. In 2008-2010, Kyle Phillips led a complete restoration of the golf course back to Macbeth’s original vision.
Par for this week’s event is 71 (35-36), with official scoceyard yardage stretching 6,447 yards. As in previous LPGA tournaments at Wilshire, the back nine has been rerouted for this week the tournament’s 10th hole being the club’s 11th hole, the tournament’s 11th hole being the club’s 12th, and so on. The tournament’s par-3 finishing hole is normally Wilshire’s 10th hole.
Fun fact: The iconic Hollywood sign can be seen from the tee on the ninth hole. Legend has it that when Ben Hogan first played Wilshire CC, he stood on the tee was told to aim for the Hollywood sign. Hogan responded by asking: “Which letter?”
The NBC Golf Research Team contributed to this report.
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