Later this month, the best female golfers in the world will once again head to Aviara Golf Club in Southern California to compete in the ninth edition of the Kia Classic. The field in Carlsbad has consistently been one of the strongest on Tour, and 2018 is no different with plenty of star power expected to compete for the tournament’s famed red glass trophy and a purse of $1.8 million.
Here’s a look at players to watch at the 2018 Kia Classic:
2018 TOURNAMENT WINNERS
Three of the four winners this season have committed to the 2018 Kia Classic, including United States’ Brittany Lincicome (Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic) and Michelle Wie (HSBC Women’s World Championship), as well as the Republic of Korea’s Jin Young Ko (ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open), who leads the Tour in Official Money and is atop the Rolex Player of the Year, Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year and Race to CME Globe standings to date.
The Bank of Hope Founders Cup will be played the week before from March 15-18, with a spot in the Kia Classic field reserved for the winner in Phoenix.
PAST KIA CLASSIC CHAMPIONS
Seven of the eight previous winners of the Kia Classic will hope to rekindle their magic at Aviara this year, including 2017 champion Mirim Lee. Lee set the tournament 72-hole scoring record at 20-under par, which was six shots better than So Yeon Ryu and Austin Ernst and tied for the largest margin of victory on the LPGA Tour in 2017.
Those joining Lee looking for their second Kia Classic title include Lydia Ko (2016), Cristie Kerr (2015), Anna Nordqvist (2014), Beatriz Recari (2013), Yani Tseng (2012) and Sandra Gal (2011). In eight years, the Kia Classic has sported one of the most diverse lists of past champions on Tour featuring eight different winners representing seven different countries.
TOP 10 IN ROLEX WOMEN’S WORLD GOLF RANKINGS
The top 10 players in the world (as of March 5, 2018) will each head to Carlsbad searching for their first victory of 2018, barring if one of them wins in Phoenix the week before. The current top ten players, representing five different countries, combined for 18 wins in 33 events on the LPGA in 2017. China’s Shanshan Feng has held control of the top spot in the Rolex Rankings since November 13, 2017 after winning the Blue Bay LPGA – Feng was one of five players to hold the No. 1 spot in the rankings last season, a LPGA record in one year.
Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings – Top 10 (as of March 5, 2018)
|RANK||NAME||COUNTRY||CAREER LPGA WINS (WINS IN 2017)|
|1||Shanshan Feng||China||9 (3)|
|2||Lexi Thompson||USA||9 (2)|
|3||So Yeon Ryu||Republic of Korea||5 (2)|
|4||Sung Hyun Park||Republic of Korea||2 (2)|
|5||Anna Nordqvist||Sweden||8 (2)|
|6||In-Kyung Kim||Republic of Korea||7 (3)|
|7||Ariya Jutanugarn||Thailand||7 (2)|
|8||In Gee Chun||Republic of Korea||2 (0)|
|9||Cristie Kerr||USA||20 (2)|
|10||Hye Jin Choi||Republic of Korea||0 (0)|
The Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings can be accessed at http://www.rolexrankings.com/en/rankings/.
A variety of ticket options are available at http://www.kiaclassic.com/tickets. Juniors age 17 and under receive complimentary admission for the entire week, making the Kia Classic the ultimate family destination. Thursday, March 22, features a Women’s Leadership Day, while a junior clinic will be held on Saturday, March 24.