Rolex Rankings No. 10 Ai Miyazato returns to Rogers, Ark., seeking to defend her second title she earned last year. The Okinawa, Japan native notched her first win of the 2012 season at the inaugural LOTTE LPGA Championship Presented by J Golf and went on the win the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G just two months later. It marked her second multi-win season of her eight-year tenure on the LPGA Tour.
A nine-time winner on Tour, Miyazato has distinguished herself as one of the top players in the world. She has continued to prove that this season with a runner-up finish to Stacy Lewis at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup and tied for sixth in Hawaii earlier this year. With top-20 finishes in the last three events, Miyazato hopes to get in contention this week for a successful title defense.
Players to watch this week
Rolex Rankings No. 3 Suzann Pettersen is coming in hot this week after notching her fifth top-3 finish in seven events at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Pettersen, who won her 11th-career victory at the LOTTE LPGA Championship in April, has steadily moved up the Rolex Rankings this season jumping from No. 8 at the beginning of the year to No. 3 after a tie for third at the season’s second major. She is closing in on No. 2 Stacy Lewis and has narrowed the gap to just .31 in points average.
Morgan Pressel also made a statement earlier this month in Pittsford, N.Y. when she was leading the field heading into the final round but couldn’t stave off a Sunday surge from South Korea’s Inbee Park and Catriona Matthew. She finished in a tie for third along with Pettersen. Since her latest win at the 2008 Kapalua LPGA Classic, Pressel has tallied 22 top-10 finishes including four runner-ups. With a solid finish last week there’s no question she’ll be on the radar this week.
Let’s go Hogs!
University of Arkansas alum Stacy Lewis will be a fan-favorite this week as she returns to Hog country. The former Razorback made a name for herself during college as she won 12 collegiate events and was a four-time All-American. She has carried that success to the LPGA Tour has she now has seven victories and a Rolex Player of the Year award to her name. She comes to Arkansas this week with two victories so far this season at the HSBC Women’s Champions and the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. With her return to Arkansas this week, the "Calling of the Hogs" chant on the 17th green will be sure to give her the momentum she needs to get back in the winner’s circle.
Rogers gets Rowdy!
This year’s Walmart NW Arkansas LPGA Championship Presented by P&G will feature a revamped 17th green that will make the crowds in Rogers, Ark. go wild. With "stadium-style" grandstands surrounding the shortened par-3, spectators will be able to interact with their LPGA Tour favorites and cheer them on for some fascinating finishes on the "loudest hole in golf."
June 21 – June 23
Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G
Pinnacle Country Club
Field: 144 (142 touring professionals, 2 amateurs)
Par: 36-35, 71
Format: 54-hole stroke play
Defending champion: Ai Miyazato
June 21 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
June 22 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
June 23 4:00 p.m. -6:00 p.m.
All times CDT