LPGA aims to make history near Lambeau Field (Jul 5, 2017)
Plenty of pro football's greatest memories have been made in Green Bay, Wis.
This week, the LPGA hopes to forge a little history of its own when it conducts the first edition of the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in Oneida, a sovereign nation just down the road from storied Lambeau Field.
Host course for the inaugural event beginning Thursday is Thornberry Creek at Oneida, a Rick Jacobsen-designed course that will play at 6,624 yards and to a par of 72 for the 72-hole event. A field of 144 golfers will chase the $2 million total purse, with $300,000 going to the winner.
World No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand will headline the field along with 11 more major champions, including 2010 U.S. Women's Open champion Paula Creamer, four-time winner and top Canadian star Brooke Henderson, 19-time LPGA winner Cristie Kerr, 15-time LPGA winner and European Solheim Cup legend Suzann Pettersen and LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame member Karrie Webb.
Other top names in the field include 2015 U.S. Women's Open champion Ingee Chun of South Korea, England's Charley Hull and fan favorites Christina Kim and Cheyenne Woods.
"I'm really excited to see Green Bay and test my game at Thornberry Creek," said Jutanugarn, who will be joined in the field by her sister, Moriya. "I have heard that Wisconsin has some serious golf fans and we look forward to competing in front of them."
The Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic will serve as the final test prior to the U.S. Women's Open, to be played next week in New Jersey. This year's tournament is the eighth in the LPGA Tour's busy 12-events-in-as-many-weeks stretch and is sandwiched in between two major championships.
This week's Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic marks the 18th tournament of what has been an exciting 2017 LPGA season that's seen 16 different tournament winners.
The inaugural Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, one of four new events on the LPGA Tour this season, will be held on the Oneida Reservation immediately across Interstate 41 from Green Bay. The course is owned by Oneida Nation, which has more than 17,000 tribal members worldwide, and managed by the Oneida Golf Enterprise Corporation.
Henderson is playing the best golf of her career and is likely to be in contention this week. In her last three starts, she hasn't finished outside the top 11 and she captured her fourth career LPGA victory at the Meijer LPGA Classic two weeks ago. Henderson followed that with a runner-up finish at last week's KPMG Women's PGA Championship, falling one shot short in her title defense at the major championship.
"It's really exciting to have a new event on the schedule and especially here in Wisconsin," Henderson said. "I haven't spent a ton of time here before, but I'm really happy to be back. My agent has been talking about this tournament almost all year, so I'm excited to finally be here and to get started."
The Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic field features 30 of this year's 37 LPGA Tour rookies, the most to tee it up at a tournament this season. This season features players from 33 countries, the most in Tour history, with 126 active international players.
Through 17 events of the 2017 season, American players have taken home four tournament titles: Brittany Lincicome (Pure-Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic), Kerr (LOTTE Championship), Lexi Thompson (Kingsmill Championship) and Danielle Kang (KPMG Women's PGA Championship).
During the 2016 season, Thompson and Brittany Lang were the only Americans to take home a tournament title. Americans have won at least five LPGA events in eight of the last 10 seasons, with the exception of 2016 (two) and 2011 (four). The last time Americans won back-to-back events on the LPGA Tour was in October 2015.
World No. 1 and two-time LPGA winner this season So Yeon Ryu of South Korea holds a narrow lead in the current Race to the CME Globe standings with 2,266 points. Top-ranked American and 2017 Kingsmill champion Thompson is close behind with 2,199 points, followed closely by reigning Race to the CME Globe winner Jutanugarn (2,177) and Henderson (1,653).