Lee set to defend title in Beijing event

The LPGA kicks off its fall Asian swing this week with a stop at Reignwood Pine Valley Golf Club in Beijing for the Reignwood LPGA Classic.

The limited-field, no-cut event features 81 players, including 15 competitors from the CLPGA.

Miriam Lee of South Korea won this event as a rookie in 2014, the last time it was played. Shanshan Feng won the inaugural Classic in 2013, shooting a 26-under par 266 for the 72 holes. Both players are part of this week's field, which also includes two of 2016's major champions: KPMG Women's PGA champion Brooke Henderson of Canada and RICOH Women's British Open winner Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand.

Lee's victory in this event was one of two she recorded in her rookie season. Although she hasn't won since, she's recorded four top-four finishes this season, including back-to-back runner-up efforts.

She lost a three-way playoff to Lydia Ko and Jutanugarn at the Marathon Classic in Canada before placing second to Jutanugarn at the Women's British Open.

Lee said her game is in a good place at the moment.

“I was able to take a really good rest last week,” she said. “I think I'm in a good position to gain really good results this tournament.”

Feng, ranked 14th in the world, is the first golfer from China to find success on the LPGA Tour. Her resume includes four victories, including the 2012 Wegmans LPGA Championship.

Feng hasn't won since 2014 but is a model of consistency, recording 20 top-10 finishes including two second-place efforts. Her best finish this year was a fourth-place effort at the recent Evian Championship.

“I'm actually the guinea pig for Chinese golf,” she said. “Before me nobody has tried it, so I was the first one to really get on the tour and experience all kinds of different things.

“You know, I'm the guinea pig that tried to find out a path maybe from China to international (golf) so the people behind me can actually follow me and they don't need to get into the troubles that they don't need to.”

Jutanugarn, who has won five times this season and is ranked second in the world, played much of the season without a driver in her bag, but she's planning on carrying one this week, that is, if the weather will cooperate.

“I try to bring my driver this week,” she said. “Depends on the wind also because I'm not very likely to hit driver when it's windy. So hope there is no wind.”

The par-73 course plays 6,596 yards.