It’s a short offseason for the best-of-the-best on the LPGA as the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions kicks off Jan. 21-24 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. With a robust schedule of 34 events on the horizon, record-setting purses, and the hope that comes with a vaccine, there’s much to cautiously look forward to on the LPGA.
Here are five can’t-miss storylines for 2021:
A rockin’ Solheim Cup
Who knows how many people will be allowed to pack the Inverness Club next Labor Day weekend. It’s going to be the best venue in Solheim Cup history – from the quality of the golf course, to the rocking horseshoe stands around the 1st and 10th tees to the fan-friendly routing.
Could we see two playing assistant captains in recent winner Angela Stanford and new mom Michelle Wie?
A reminder that Europe’s only victory on U.S. soil came in 2013.
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said he’d be shocked if the Olympics didn’t go ahead as planned in 2021. Once again, the race to make the South Korean team will be hottest contest of the year. The top three players in the world are South Korean: Jin Young Ko, Sei Young Kim and 2016 gold-medal winner Inbee Park. A maximum of four players from each country are allowed, provided they are inside the top 15 of the Rolex Rankings.
Right now, the final spot would go to Hyo-Joo Kim (No. 9), while Sung Hyun Park (No. 10), Jeong Eun Lee6 (12) and So Yeon Ryu (No. 14) would be left outside the cutoff.
(And we haven’t even mentioned U.S. Women’s Open winner A Lim Kim, No. 30.)
The Americans only have three players inside the top 15: Nelly Korda (4), Danielle Kang (5) and Lexi Thompson (11). Jennifer Kupcho is 19th.
How long can she dominate?
Jin Young Ko has been atop the Rolex Rankings for a total of 78 weeks over the course of two stints. Her emphatic statement at the CME Group Tour Championship – that cool-as-a-cucumber masterclass she put on during the last nine holes – certainly points toward a long stay at the top. Her major championship performances alone (four top-3 finishes, including two wins, in her last six starts) are head-turning.
A remarkable level of consistency.
It can’t be stated enough: Where the women play matters. And in 2021, we’re going to get a heavy dose of top-flight tracks, from the aforementioned Inverness to Olympic Club, Atlanta Athletic Club and Carnoustie.
The 76th U.S. Women’s Open heads to the Olympic Club for the first time ever, and the AIG Women’s British Open returns to Carnoustie for the first time since 2011, when Yani Tseng triumphed. The men’s British Open Championship has been staged there eight times, with Francesco Molinari winning the latest in 2018.
The Atlanta Athletic Club hosts next year’s KPMG Women’s PGA, its first women’s major since the 1990 USWO, won by Betsy King. Four men’s majors have been staged there, including three PGAs and the 1976 U.S. Open, won by Jerry Pate.
Plenty of reasons to tune in.
Annika’s return to competition
Here’s what we know for sure. Sorenstam will tee it up on the LPGA in 2021, but as part of the celebrity division of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions (same tees).
What we don’t know, as of yet, is if she’ll commit to the next U.S. Senior Women’s Open. (When she turned 50 in October, Sorenstam told Golfweek that she was looking at the schedule.) In addition to her foundation work, she’s the 2021 European Junior Solheim Cup team captain as well as the upcoming president of the International Golf Federation.
Sorenstam’s post-LPGA career has been anything but slow. Let’s hope there’s still room in there for another major.
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/01/01/lpga-season-preview-2021-solheim-cup-annika-sorenstam/