2023 WNBA season primer: All eyes on Aces, Liberty ‘super teams’ plus Brittney Griner’s return as league opens 27th season


The 27th WNBA season already has an electricity about it, thanks to the return of Brittney Griner and the anticipation over two new “super teams” hitting the court, led by reigning champion Las Vegas Aces and the new-look New York Liberty. Fans will get their first view of all of it when the regular season tips off this weekend, kicking off an expanded 40-game schedule for each team that features every franchise in action over Friday and Saturday.

The Aces kept nearly every piece from their championship team and then added another superstar to their roster with two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker. But Las Vegas will open the season without head coach Becky Hammon after she was suspended for two games without pay following a month-long investigation into allegations by former Aces player Dearica Hamby, who claimed to have been bullied and manipulated for being pregnant.

Meanwhile, the Liberty signed two MVPs of their own in 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart and 2021 winner Jonquel Jones, plus they added last year’s assists leader Courtney Vandersloot.

“I think we put [together] a really good team — we’ve had a great offseason,” Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello told media on Tuesday. “But you know, ‘on paper’ doesn’t mean anything at the moment. We haven’t had much of a training camp to be quite honest with all our players — the big three coming in — and that’s unfortunate, but it is what it is. I think we’ll just have patience early, but these players really want to win.”

As for Griner’s first season back in the league following a nearly 10-month detainment in Russia, Phoenix’s second-year head coach Vanessa Nygaard told media earlier this week that they’re preparing for the spotlight to follow them throughout the year.

“When we go to the city, and it’s our first game there, that’s going to be a ‘BG’ game, just like it was for us last year,” Nygaard said. “But this year, it’ll be filled with joy. And we know our W fans are going to be excited to see her wherever we go. So that’s going to be great.”

The eight-time WNBA All-Star and two-time Defensive Player of the Year will play her first two regular season games over the weekend – against the Sparks in L.A. on Friday and at home vs. the Chicago Sky on Sunday. Last season, Griner was named an honorary All-Star for the 2022 game in Chicago, where players from both teams took the court in the second half wearing Griner’s iconic No. 42 as a “BG 42” logo adorned the court.

As far as providing a safe space for Griner, whom Nygaard recognizes may be “somewhat of a divisive media figure now, too,” coach confirmed that the Mercury – as well as all teams in the league – will have a security presence with them throughout the season.

“I think just controlling her availability, and then using the rest of our staff — myself included — to kind of take a little bit of that pressure off of her,” she added. “You know, there are parts of it, she can’t say too much — there’s a book deal, y’all. It’s going to be a great movie, we can’t ruin it.”

Read on as On Her Turf takes a look at top storylines, viewing options, what’s new this season and what to know about each team ahead of Friday’s regular season tipoff.

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How to watch the 2023 WNBA season

Last week, the league announced 205 live games will air across a range of channels that includes ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ABC, CBS, CBS Sports Network, Paramount+, ION, NBA TV and Amazon Prime Video. Games will also be livestreamed on Twitter as well as on Meta Quest VR headsets in Meta Horizon Worlds and in the XTADIUM app.

Among the highlights in this year’s broadcast schedule is a nine-game opening weekend featuring every team in action over Friday and Saturday, plus three more matchups on Sunday. ESPN platforms will air four marquee games on opening weekend, beginning Friday night as Brittney Griner and the Phoenix Mercury visit the Los Angeles Sparks (ESPN and ESPN+, 11 p.m. ET). On Saturday, ABC has a doubleheader featuring the Atlanta Dream at the Dallas Wings (1 p.m. ET) and the defending champion Las Vegas Aces at the Seattle Storm (3 p.m. ET). Weekend coverage wraps on Sunday as the Mercury host the Chicago Sky (ESPN and ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET).

Additionally, the 2023 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas will air for the first time in primetime on Saturday, July 15, at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC. Also that weekend, the Starry WNBA Three-Point Contest and Kia WNBA Skills Challenge will air on ESPN on July 14 at 4 p.m. ET. Finally, ESPN platforms will broadcast every game of the WNBA Playoffs, which will feature up to 27 games including the WNBA Finals.

What’s new for the 2023 WNBA season?

Expanded schedule: The 2023 season features a record-high 40 games per team, up four games from the previous high of 36 last season. Each team will play 20 home games and 20 road games. The season will conclude on a high note as all 12 teams will be in action on the final day — Sunday, Sept. 10 — with plenty of playoff implications on the line.

Preseason note worth revisiting: Preseason action began May 5 but the highlight came Saturday, May 13, when the Chicago Sky beat the Minnesota Lynx in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 19,000 fans in Toronto. It marked the first time since 2011 that the league played an international game and the first time ever in Canada.

Key rules changes: For the 2023 season, the WNBA will implement a Coach’s Challenge for the first time. The new challenge rule allows for one challenge per team, per game (including overtime), and will trigger an instant-replay review of three specific events: a called foul on their own team, a called out-of-bounds violation, or a called goaltending or basket interference violation. The league also will put into effect modified rules for out-of-bounds call reviews, transition take fouls, resumption of play procedures and bench conduct.

Expanded use of charter flights: In April, the WNBA announced it would expand the use of charter flights to include back-to-back regular-season games during the 2023 season as well as all playoff games.

Key dates for 2023 WNBA season

  • May 19:  Regular season begins
  • July 13-17: WNBA All-Star break
  • July 15: WNBA All-Star Game
  • July 14: Mid-season cut-down date
  • July 15: Mid-season
  • Aug. 7: Trade deadline, 8 p.m. ET
  • Aug. 15: WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship
  • Aug. 28: Player playoff eligibility from waivers, 5 p.m. ET
  • Sept. 10: Regular season ends
  • Sept. 13: WNBA Playoffs begin
  • Oct. 20: Last possible Finals game date

The scoop: What to know about each franchise ahead of the 2023 WNBA season


Atlanta Dream

  • Last season: 14-22 (10th)
  • Head coach: Tanisha Wright (second year with Dream)
  • Need to know: The Dream’s roster is headlined by reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard, and Atlanta used trades to obtain Allisha Gray from Dallas and Danielle Robinson from Indiana. From the 2023 draft, the Dream added Stanford’s Haley Jones with the No. 6 overall pick and South Carolina’s Laeticia Amihere at No. 8.

Chicago Sky 

  • Last season: 26-10 (2nd)
  • Head coach: James Wade (fifth year with Sky)
  • Need to know: Expect a rebuilding season for last year’s Eastern Conference champions, who lost a slew of players including Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot and Emma Meessemen. But they’ve got two-time All-Star Kahleah Copper coming back and signed veteran free agents Courtney Williams and Elizabeth Williams.

Connecticut Sun

  • Last season: 25-11 (3rd)
  • Head coach: Stephanie White (first year as head coach)
  • Need to know: The Sun are facing a new era after head coach Curt Miller left to join the LA Sparks, while 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones moved on to New York and Jasmine Thomas joined Miller in L.A. But look to Brionna Jones, the reigning Sixth Player of the Year, to move into Jones’ role full time alongside DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa ThomasNew faces include Rebecca Allen from New York and Ty Harris from Dallas. On the sidelines, White has two former W players making their pro coaching debuts as assistants: Briann January and Abi Olajuwan. January played 14 seasons in the league and was a seven-time All-Defensive pick. Olajuwan, the daughter of Hall of Famer and NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwan, was drafted by Chicago and played with Tulsa.

Indiana Fever

  • Last season: 5-31 (12th)
  • Head coach: Christie Sides (first year as head coach)
  • Need to know: The Fever took South Carolina standout Aliyah Boston with the No. 1 pick the 2023 draft, and they signed free agent Erica Wheeler in the offseason, bringing back the player who, in 2019 as a member of the Fever, became the first undrafted player to win the All-Star Game MVP award. On the sidelines, former Fever player Karima Christmas-Kelly, who won a championship with the Fever in 2012 and played 10 W seasons, returns to the franchise as an assistant.

New York Liberty

  • Last season: 16-20 (7th)
  • Head coach: Sandy Brondello (second year with Liberty, 10th year in league as head coach)
  • Need to know: New York begins its quest for its first title in franchise history after trading for former league MVP Jonquel Jones and using free agency to sign two-time champion and two-time Finals MVP Breanna Stewart plus with six-time WNBA assists leader Courtney Vandersloot. The star trio joins a Liberty roster that already includes 2022 All-WNBA pick Sabrina Ionescu.

Washington Mystics

  • Last season: 22-14 (5th)
  • Head coach: Eric Thibault (first year as head coach)
  • Need to know: Two-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne says she’s feeling fully healthy after back issues kept her sidelines for most of the past three seasons, and she’ll be surrounded by many of the 2019 title-winning teammates including Natasha Cloud, Myisha Hines-Allen, Ariel Atkins, Tianna Hawkins and Kristi Toliver. who re-joined the Mystics in free agency this past winter after a stint with the Sparks. Also back is Shakira Austin, who contended for 2022 Rookie of the Year, while 2022 All-Defensive Team pick Brittney Sykes joins the roster after signing as a free agent. Former assistant Eric Thibault is now head coach after 10 seasons as an assistant to his father, current Mystics GM Mike Thibault.


Dallas Wings

  • Last season: 18-18 (6th)
  • Head coach: Latricia Trammell (first year as head coach)
  • Need to know: The Wings added some star power to support Arike Ogunbowale when they obtained three-time champ Natasha Howard and 2020 Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield via a trade from New York plus Diamond DeShields in a trade from Phoenix. Additionally, Dallas drafted Villanova standout Maddy Siegrist, who led the NCAA in scoring last season. Former LA Sparks assistant Latricia Trammel will make her head coaching debut in Dallas this season.

Las Vegas Aces

  • Last season: 26-10 (1st)
  • Head coach: Becky Hammon (second year with Aces)
  • Need to know: The defending WNBA champions and reigning Commissioner’s Cup champs added two-time league MVP Candace Parker to a team that earned multiple honors in 2022 including MVP and Defensive POY A’ja Wilson, Most Improved Player Jackie Young, All-Star Game MVP Kelsey Plum and Commissioner’s Cup Championship MVP Chelsea Gray.

Los Angeles Sparks

  • Last season: 13-23 (11th)
  • Head coach: Curt Miller (first year with Sparks, eighth year in league as head coach)
  • Need to know: Curt Miller, who guided Connecticut to the WNBA Finals in 2022 and 2019, will look to work his magic as head coach for Los Angeles. The Sparks re-signed sisters Nneka and Chiney Ogumike during the offseason and also fortified the roster by adding Dearica Hamby from Las Vegas and Azura Stevens from Chicago.

Minnesota Lynx

  • Last season: 14-22 (9th)
  • Head coach: Cheryl Reeve (15th year with Lynx, 15th year in league as head coach)
  • Need to know: It’s the start of a new era for Minnesota, who is without eight-time All-Star Sylvia Fowles after her retirement last season. Forward Napheesa Collier, a former Rookie of the Year, will aim to take over leadership duties, while former Maryland standout and 2023 No. 2 overall pick Diamond Miller aims to become a franchise star. The Lynx will retire Fowles’ number 34 on Sunday, June 11, just two days after the franchise celebrates its 25th anniversary and honors the top 25 players in Lynx history.

Phoenix Mercury

  • Last season: 15-21 (8th)
  • Head coach: Vanessa Nygaard (second year with Mercury)
  • Need to know: Along with all things “BG,” the Mercury come in hot behind the won’t-quit talent of 10-time All-Star Diana Taurasi, who’s entering her 19th season and turns 41 in June. She’s already the league’s career leader in points (9,693) and needs just 307 points to become the first player in league history to reach the 10,000-point mark. Her 9,693 points are 2,205 more than that of No. 2 ranked Tina Thompson (7,488) and 3,588 more than that of Candace Parker (6,412), the next-highest ranked active player. Teammate Skylar Diggins-Smith is currently on maternity leave after the birth of her second child, but of note, the team added 2021 Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere from New York in a three-team trade.

Seattle Storm

  • Last season: 22-14 (4th)
  • Head coach: Noelle Quinn (third year with Storm)
  • Need to know: The Storm face a few questions marks without Breanna Stewart, who joined the Liberty, and the now-retired Sue Bird. However, they’ve brought back fan-favorite Sami Whitcomb as a free agent and also signed free agent Kia Nurse. The Storm will retire Bird’s No. 10 on Sunday, June 11, when they host Washington at home.

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Li Li Leung talks USA Gymnastics’ cultural transformation, challenges still to come and embracing her AAPI heritage

Head of USA Gymnastics Li Li Leung.
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Li Li Leung joined USA Gymnastics as president and CEO in March 2019, when the organization was reeling from the fallout of Larry Nassar’s widespread sexual abuse and the subsequent revelations of larger cultural issues within the sport. Since then, Leung has seen USAG through an ongoing transformation, one that hinges on the work of the survivors and staff around her, whom she is quick to credit. That evolution, as she calls it, has included instituting new norms and standards at all levels of the sport, particularly in matters related to athlete safety.

Among the notable USAG initiatives that Leung has brought to fruition is the Athlete Bill of Rights, established in December 2020 as a tool “to unite the full gymnastics community around a shared vision of behavioral expectations.” At the same time, USAG instituted a protest policy for national team members aimed at supporting athletes who choose to use their voice on public platforms. Both initiatives were among the first of their kind in sport.

Prior to joining USAG, Leung served as a vice president at the National Basketball Association (NBA), where she was responsible for building and managing key partner relationships around the world. She continues to use that experience in her roles as vice chair of the National Governing Bodies Council of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and a member of the International Gymnastics Federation’s Executive Committee.

Leung, who began competing in gymnastics at age 7, was a member of the U.S. junior national training team and represented the U.S. at the 1988 Junior Pan American Games. She was a four-year member of the four-time Big 10 champion University of Michigan gymnastics team and was an NCAA Championships participant.

In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, On Her Turf sat down with Leung to talk about her journey with USAG, the challenges still to come and how being a member of the AAPI community has shaped the person she is today.

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This Q+A has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

On Her Turf: Let’s start by talking about your journey since joining USA Gymnastics in 2019. What have the last four years been like for you?

Li Li Leung: This was just an incredible opportunity to give back to the sport that has given so much to me. And I really mean that because I started in the sport when I was 7 years old and did it for 15 years. It’s taught me all of these different skills that I apply to my daily life, both professional and personal. It feels a little bit like I’ve come full circle, and honestly, never in a million years did I think I would find myself in this role. … I joined at a time when it was a tumultuous time for the organization. It’s been just a little a little over four years now, and it has been an incredible journey — and believe it or not, I have enjoyed it. While it hasn’t been easy, I actually have enjoyed it, because I’ve been able to make it not just me. One thing that’s important to note is that — I had even said on my first interview with the board — it will take a village to accomplish what we need to accomplish. This is not a one-person job. And I was lucky enough to be able to bring on a leadership team that has been incredible, and also retain the staff that we have retained, as well as hire other new staff members. And it’s because of them and some really key volunteers that we’ve been able to accomplish what we’ve been able to do.

OHT: Can you talk a little more about this cultural transformation that the organization has experienced and your approach to tackling this all-encompassing change?

Leung: When I was interviewing for the position, I actually met every single board member. It was really critical to both sides that they felt that I matched the role and their needs and also I had to be confident in the board believing in the ultimate mission of the organization and what we wanted to achieve. So that the culture really does stem from the well – from the top down and everything in between as well. And when I was looking for leadership team, … one of the characteristics I was really looking for was they couldn’t have an ego. The job couldn’t be about themselves or about what they would personally get out of the role. It had to be about them believing in the bigger picture and believing in what we collectively wanted to achieve. I knew that we would only be able to accomplish what we need to accomplish if people were willing to roll up their sleeves and just do whatever needed to be done, so that was one of the key things in terms of having no ego.

Since 2018, we’ve turned over more than 70 percent of our staff. We’ve been able to retain the really key members of our staff, who have been critical to our success, but also have been able to really bring in new thinking, new blood, new perspectives. Because the other thing I was looking for when I was hiring for the leadership team was diversity in perspectives. That was critical because I did not want to be surrounded by “yes people.” I wanted to be surrounded by people who would be willing to have really robust conversations and engage in difficult conversations, because ultimately, you end up in a better place because of that.

In 2020, we reset our mission to be about building a community and culture of health, safety and excellence, with athletes who thrive in sport and in life. So we were no longer about developing technically superior gymnasts who perform well in gym. We reset our focus to be about helping set our athletes up for success with the skill sets that you learn in gymnastics, and when we come to the office each day, that’s what we’re thinking about. …

The other piece is we also know from a community standpoint that our national team coaches are the most visible representation (of USAG), and a lot of coaches model them. So we’ve been working really hard in terms of working on educating our national team coaches. We work with Positive Coaching Alliance to do educational training with them as well. And we also have introduced training specifically for young coaches coming in, because we know when they come in and they’re new, that they’re eager to learn, and that’s when you can start training and moving them in a way. So our thinking is with this top-down and bottom-up strategy, eventually the middle will meet.

OHT: You noted how the coaches can be some of the most visible representatives of USAG. Regarding the addition of 2008 Olympic silver medalists Chellsie Memmel (USAG technical lead) and Alicia Sacramone Quinn (USAG strategic lead), how have those women impacted the program?

Leung: The addition of Chellsie and Alicia has been fantastic. They have been phenomenal to work with, and the fact that they have firsthand experience of having gone through it themselves – that also gives them a very good idea of what they would change and what they wouldn’t change, at the same time. It has been a phenomenal addition to be able to have this perspective of firsthand, high-level, high-performing athletes to be able to lead our high-performance team. And the athletes are saying it as well. They’re saying, “We trust them; we feel confident in their decisions; we can relate to them” — all of those things that historically haven’t really happened before.

Then in terms of the athletes who are going to college and coming back to compete with USA Gymnastics – there are so many aspects that I think are great about this. One: It’s showing a lengthened career in a sport that historically has not been very long because it’s so demanding on the body. So that means that our athletes are physically healthier, as well, that they can train and compete at a high level for a longer period of time. It also means that they’re enjoying it more because they’re staying in the sport. From an emotional standpoint, they’re finding a lot more joy in the sport, and they’re talking about it, too. And we love the fact that they’re talking about it. We want them to talk about it, and we want them to have voices and feel open and free about sharing what they’re thinking about. I have to say I’ve been really enjoying seeing almost like — I’m not sure if I can go as far as a new era in the sport maybe — but just this evolution of the sport and the athletes changing in front of my eyes.

OHT: What do you consider now to still be the biggest challenge or obstacle for USAG?

Leung: There are a couple of big initiatives on the list. One is we want to build a training and wellness center where all of our disciplines will train under one roof. This is a long-term project, obviously, but my vision around it is that it will be the heart and hub of gymnastics in America. And while this is where national team athletes will ultimately train to some extent, it is going to be a welcoming place for athletes of all different disciplines and all different levels. We want it to be a place where young athletes can come through and see their role models training. We want this to be a place of education for our community and judges. We want to be able to run clinics there for all different levels. We just want this to be a gathering place of gymnastics and to be able to celebrate the sport there at the same time.

We’re also going to reset our foundation. There’s been the National Gymnastics Foundation, but we are going to reset it and basically be much more proactive on fundraising and development to grow the sport and also to raise more money for athletes in their training.

OHT: Turning to AAPI Heritage Month and being named to the 2023 Gold House A100 List (the A100 is named each May honoring 100 Asian Pacific leaders who made the greatest impact on culture and society over the past year). What did that honor mean to you?

Leung: It was such an incredible honor to be recognized by them, and my fellow honorees — when I read the list, I thought to myself, “I don’t belong.” There are some incredible names on that list. But again, I go back to what I said earlier: I owe this honor to a lot of the other people who work [at USAG]. I think the really important thing to recognize is that this was not done by just me. It was done by a lot of other people who are on staff and who aren’t getting the accolades or the recognition. But it was an incredible experience to be, and I’m very, very touched and honored to be on that list.

OHT: How do you identify within the Asian American Pacific Islander community? Did you embrace your heritage growing up and how has that shaped who you are today?

Leung: So I’ll tell you a story that I’ve mentioned to other people recently. I grew up in a town called Ridgewood in Bergen County, New Jersey, and most of my friends had blond hair and blue eyes. When I was growing up, I wanted the name “Nancy Smith,” and I wanted blue eyes. I wanted to fit in. As a kid, you always want to fit in. Then when you get older and wizen up a little bit, you realize that it’s okay and it’s good to be different, that you can use that to your advantage. And so upon growing up, I realized that it’s pretty special to be Asian American and there are benefits to being Asian American, and you should embrace the fact that you are different. In fact, I recently lectured to a women-in-sports-business class, and one of the questions they asked me was about impostor syndrome. I said the same thing that I’m saying to you now, which is absolutely embrace who you are. Absolutely embrace your differences, because those ultimately are embedded advantages to who you are and make you stand out from the rest of the crowd. So that’s my philosophy now.

OHT: Do you or your family have any traditions that are especially important to you?

Leung: I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a tradition, but in the Chinese culture, food is really important. Food is what brings people together. It’s a sign of respect, and that is the ultimate unifying language in a way. So when we do get together as a family, it’s really important for us to get together around a meal, because that’s when we share our stories. That’s when we connect with one another.

OHT: You might have just answered my next question, but I want to ask: What brings you joy about your heritage and culture?

Leung: It’s funny, I was actually at a conference last week and you were supposed to find someone you didn’t know in the conference and share a secret talent that you have. I shared that I can eat a lot more than most people think. Food is a really important part of our culture and in my upbringing and family.

OHT: Lastly, I wanted to ask, as we’ve seen an increase in hate-filled actions toward the AAPI community, what does supporting the AAPI community look like for you?

Leung: Well, I think kind of going back to my other answer, it’s just about embracing who you are and embracing your differences. I think part of it is being unafraid of it at the same time, which I know is really difficult. But if you’re going to truly embrace it, and then you can’t be afraid about embracing it at the same time.

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2023 Mizuho Americas Open: How to watch, who’s playing in inaugural LPGA event at Liberty National GC

Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand tees off on the eleventh hole during Day One of the HSBC Women's World Championship.
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The Statue of Liberty is the backdrop for this week’s inaugural Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. The tournament boasts a theme of mentorship and education, and includes a girls’ 72-hole, modified Stableford tournament featuring 24 juniors to go along with the 72-hole stroke-play event for 120 LPGA professionals.

The field is led by seven of the top 10 players on the Rolex Rankings including world No. 1 Jin Young Ko, No. 3 Lydia Ko, No. 4 Lilia Vu and No. 5 Minjee Lee. Also teeing it up this week are the finalists from Sunday’s Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play, where Thailand’s Pajaree Anannarukarn captured her second LPGA title with a 3-and-1 victory over Japan’s Ayaka Furue.

Michelle Wie West is serving as the tournament host, and she’ll be on hand to welcome fellow Stanford alum Rose Zhang, who’s fresh off her second straight NCAA individual title and turned professional just last week. Zhang will have her first go at an LPGA prize purse, which tops out at $2.75 million this week with the winner taking home $412,500.

How to watch the 2023 Mizuho Americas Open

You can watch the 2023 Mizuho Americas Open on Golf Channel, Peacock, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Check out the complete TV and streaming schedule:

  • Thursday, June 1: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
  • Friday, June 2: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
  • Saturday, June 3: 5-8 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
  • Sunday, June 4: 4:30-5 p.m. ET (streaming only on Peacock); 5-7:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock

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Who’s playing in the 2023 Mizuho Americas Open?

The 120-player field features seven of the top 10 players (and 16 of the top 25 player) on the Rolex Rankings:

  • No. 1 Jin Young Ko
  • No. 3 Lydia Ko
  • No. 4 Lilia Vu
  • No. 5 Minjee Lee
  • No. 6 Atthaya Thitikul
  • No. 8 Brooke Henderson
  • No. 9 Georgia Hall

Also in the field are 2023 winners Celine Boutier (LPGA Drive On Championship), Ruoning Yin (DIO Implant LA Open) and Grace Kim (LOTTE Championship), plus several sponsor exemptions including reigning NCAA individual champion Rose Zhang and her Stanford teammate Megha Ganne. Ganne, a native of Holmdel, N.J., finished T-21 at the recent NCAAs and is playing as an amateur. Joining them as an exemption is fellow Cardinal Mariah Stackhouse, who has conditional status on tour in 2023. Monday qualifiers include tour rookie Alexa Pano and Australia’s Sarah Jane Smith.

Among the notable juniors expected to play are 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur winner Anna Davis, 2022 U.S. Girls’ Junior winner Yana Wilson and 2022 U.S. Junior Girls’ runnerup Gianna Clemente. The 24 junior players were invited through their standings in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.

What’s the format for the Mizuho Americas Open?

The professionals will play a 72-hole stroke-play competition, with a cut to the top 50 and ties after 36 holes. The 24 juniors will play a 72-hole, no-cut competition using the modified Stableford scoring format and a different yardage than the pros.

During the first two rounds, the AJGA players will all be paired together. During the final two rounds, one junior player will play with two LPGA pros with groupings based on scores. This unique format marks the first time the AJGA and LPGA have partnered to showcase junior and professional competitors playing together.

Stableford scoring refresher: “Stableford” is a scoring system that awards points for the number of strokes taken on each hole in relation to par, rather than simply counting strokes like in stroke play. Unlike in stroke play, where players want the lowest score, the goal in Stableford scoring is to have the highest score. Standard Stableford points values are:

  • 0 Points – Double bogey or worse (two strokes or more over par)
  • 1 Point – Bogey (one stroke over par)
  • 2 Points – Par
  • 3 Points – Birdie (one stroke under par)
  • 4 Points – Eagle (two strokes under par)
  • 5 Points – Albatross or double eagle (three strokes under par)
  • 6 Points – Condor (four strokes under par)

More about Liberty National Golf Club

Located on the shore of the Upper Bay of New York Harbor, Liberty National Golf Club was designed by Bob Cupp and Tom Kite and officially opened on July 4, 2006. After the course received mixed reviews following the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust in 2009, the course underwent a renovation led by Steve Wenzloff of PGA Tour Design Services. Of note, the course hosted an event during the PGA Tour Playoffs four times (2009, 2013, 2019 and 2021) as well as the 2017 Presidents Cup, where the U.S. defeated the Internationals 19-11 for the Americans’ seventh consecutive victory in the competition and its 10th straight win overall. For this week’s event, the course will play to a par of 72 with an unofficial scorecard yardage of 6,671 yards.

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