As the LPGA Tour takes on a new venue an hour north of Los Angeles, a lot is at stake. With just two full-field events left in the season, some are playing in the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship to keep their cards for 2023. Others are trying to make it into the top 60 on the CME points standings to earn a spot in the season finale CME Group Tour Championship. A select few are playing for year-end hardware and a place in history.
One of the prime threesomes to watch on Thursday and Friday at The Saticoy Club has a bit of everything. That group includes:
This 22-year-old from Japan could not have imagined a better rookie season. In May, after a steady diet of made cuts, she arrived in Las Vegas for the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play presented by MGM Resorts without much match-play experience. She learned a lot in the course of five days, playing herself into the championship match against Korea’s Eun-Hee Ji. Even though she lost that Sunday, Furue, who has seven wins on the Japan LPGA, learned a lot from the experience.
That showed in July when, after a top-20 finish at the Amundi Evian Championship, Furue fired a closing-round 62 to win the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open. Her good play has continued as she posted a T3 at the AmazingCre Portlant Classic and hasn’t been out of the top 20 on a leaderboard in a month.
Speak to anyone who watched the young Atthaya Thitikul win four times on the LET and capture the Race to Costa del Sol title last year and you’d know that the teenager is the biggest phenomenon in the game since Lydia Ko. In her rookie LPGA Tour campaign, the 19-year-old Thai has won twice, has nine other top-10 finishes, and vaulted to No.2 in the Rolex Rankings.
Thitikul is making a run to join an elite group of players who have won both the Rolex Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year title and the Rolex LPGA Player of the Year in the same season.
The senior member of this threesome is 27-year-old Alison Lee who is heading home to Southern California for the week. Lee, a UCLA graduate who joined the LPGA Tour in 2015, is still looking for her first career victory but has knocked on the door often in 2022. She has three top-10 and five top-15 finishes so far this year and is on the cusp of breaking back into the top 50 in the Rolex Rankings. It’s been a long road for Lee, who has been open about her struggles with depression, and gained a lot of new fans in the process. Everyone who follows the women’s game hopes to see her succeed.
The threesome tees off in the first round of the MEDIHEAL Championship at 8:12 local time.