This past week was the Gainbridge LPGA, hosted this year at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club. It was a super exciting event for multiple reasons, Annika Sorenstam played her first LPGA Tour event in almost 13 years, Nelly Korda came out with the win to follow up her sister's win at the first LPGA event of the season, Gabriela Ruffles made her first start on the LPGA Tour as a professional, and we got a good look at all the stars on tour this season!
Annika had a great week! Most people didn't quite know what to expect as this was her first tour start in over 12 years and some people doubted she would even make the cut. She said she had low expectations for the week and was just trying to gain some competitive experience with the hopes of playing the US Senior Women's Open this summer. After a well-played round of +3, 75 including a triple bogey, bogey, and one birdie on Thursday, she rallied to shoot a -1, 71, on Friday to make the cut right on the number. Saturday and Sunday didn't turn out as low as some may have hoped but they were still crazy impressive! Saturday finished out with a +7, 79. Sunday to finish off the event at +13, she finished with a +4, 76 for the final round. It was so cool to be able to watch Annika play in a tour event. I can only imagine how amazing and surreal it was for the women who were teeing it up to get to experience playing in the same field as the GOAT, let alone the lucky players who were able to tee it up in the same group. A huge THANK YOU to Annika for playing this week, a dream come true!
Nelly Korda played phenomenally this week! She finished the week off at -16 to win by 3 shots over Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko who finished in a tie for second. Nelly had three other LPGA Tour titles to her name but this one was special as it was her first on US soil and her first in front of her parents who were there cheering her and her older sister Jessica on! Jessica won the first tournament of the season at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in January, the LPGA had a few weeks off before this week's event which was the second of their season. The Korda sisters have now gone back to back with wins on tour! Coincidentally the only other time this has ever happened was with Annika Sorenstam and her sister Charlotta back in the year 2000. I can't wait to see what's next for both Korda sisters!
Gabriela Ruffles, the 2019 US Women's Amateur Champion, made her first start on the LPGA Tour since turning professional a few weeks ago, passing on her final semester of collegiate golf at USC. Gabriela finished in a tie for 36th, at -2. While Gabriela doesn't currently hold a tour card, we will see her again on tour this season as it is allowed for an individual player to have up to 6 sponsor's exemptions per season. It is also possible for her to try and Monday-qualify for events. To gain her card, without having to go through the Symetra Tour or Q-School, she will need to either win an event on the LPGA Tour or finish with a total number of points placing inside of the top-40 on the Race to the CME list. Best of luck Gabriela!
The 2021 season on the LPGA Tour will certainly be one for the books, it has already started out that way! With so much talent and so many great players, it will be fun to watch! I am looking forward to watching and trying to learn as much as I can from these girls. With the "LPGA Tour Super Season" including all 5 majors, the Olympics, and the Solheim Cup there will be lots of action. Players from all over the world will be teeing it up for chances at making dreams come true! Good luck to all of the amazing players this season!
~NH Golfer Gal