Katherine Kirk, Lydia Ko, Mo Martin
7:44 a.m. – 10th Tee
Making her 2018 debut, Lydia Ko is joined by Australian Katherine Kirk and Mo Martin for the first two rounds.
Ko’s team confirmed to LPGA.com the world No.10 will start the season with a new caddie – Jonny Scott, who worked with Laura Davies for a number of years – and a new swing coach – Ted Oh, a former PGA Tour member.
Ko is looking for her first win in more than a year.
She notched five top-5 finishes in 2017 but couldn’t find the winner’s circle. She won the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in 2015 and was runner-up in 2016.
Kirk, meanwhile, broke through for her first win on the LPGA Tour in seven years in 2017. She captured the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic by one shot in July and had two other top-10 finishes including a tie for third at the year’s final major, The Evian Championship. Kirk finished tied for 58th at the season opener in the Bahamas and was tied for 52nd a year ago in Adelaide.
Martin is still searching for her first win since the 2014 RICOH Women’s British Open, her lone triumph on the LPGA Tour. Martin had two top-10 finishes in 2017 and finished tied for 18th at the season opening Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. She was tied for 30th at the 2017 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
Moriya Jutanugarn, Sarah Jane Smith, Brooke Henderson
7:55 a.m. – 10th Tee
The last time the LPGA Tour was in Australasia, Brooke Henderson came out on top.
Henderson captured the 2017 McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open in October, her fifth LPGA Tour victory and second of the season. She returns to Australia with good vibes having finished tied for 9th in the LPGA’s season-opener, having held a piece of the lead early in the week.
“You have to really think your way around the course, be very strategic and hit certain spots on the fairways, hit certain spots on the greens to give yourself the best advantage and the best way to make pars and birdies,” Henderson said in a pre-tournament press conference. “Hopefully (caddie Brittany) and I will be able to do that later this week. I’m really excited to play here this week at Kooyonga and really happy to be back in Australia.”
Henderson is paired with Australian Sarah Jane Smith who finished tied for third here a year ago – her best result of 2017 – and Moriya Jutanugarn.
Jutanugarn may be the LPGA Tour’s most consistent golfer who has yet to find the winner’s circle.
She notched 11 top-10 finishes in 2017, including six top-5s. Jutanugarn finished tied for 31st at the season opener in the Bahamas and was tied for 16th at the 2017 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
Bronte Law, Morgan Pressel, Ha Na Jang
12:12 p.m. – 1st Tee
Ha Na Jung returns to the LPGA Tour for the second time since May of 2017 after taking time away from the Tour to be closer to her family. She’ll defend her title this week and although she’s been away from LPGA Tour golf, it’s likely she won’t be as rusty as people think. She played in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship and a handful of events on the Korean LPGA Tour during the tail-end of 2017 and is excited to be back in action.
“(In Australia) I feel really comfortable,” she said in a press conference. “I don’t know why. People are kind, the country is really good, the weather is perfect, not really (humid) and the golf courses are really nice. I think that’s why it’s good.”
Jang said she will only play about four times on the LPGA Tour this year, but is comfortable with her decision as she wants to stay closer to her mother, who is recovery from surgery.
Jang will be paired with Morgan Pressel – who heads into 2018 looking for her first LPGA Tour win in 10 years (2008: Kapalua LPGA Classic) – and Bronte Law, who after a rookie campaign in 2017 notched a tie for 6th at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic to open the 2018 season.
So Yeon Ryu, Karrie Webb, Brittany Lang
12:34 p.m. – 1st Tee
So Yeon Ryu won twice in 2017 and currently sits at No.3 in the Rolex Rankings. She ascended to world No.1 after her second win of the year last year, the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
Ryu, the highest-ranked golfer in the world in the field, is paired with Karrie Webb, a longtime hometown favorite and winner of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in 2014, along with Brittany Lang.
Lang missed the cut in her season opener in the Bahamas, while Webb is making her 2018 debut.