We’ve waited all year for a head-to-head showdown between the two best women players in the game and this week’s Pelican Championship might finally deliver.
Nelly Korda and Jin Young Ko have been the clear standout players in 2021 but with just two tournaments left, the clock is ticking.
Both are in the field at this week’s Pelican Championship in Florida and both will have an eye on finishing the year ranked World No.1.
Korda ascended to the top spot again last week despite there being no tournament but rest assured, Ko will be motivated to turn the tables this week.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Sei Young Kim was a comfortable three shot victor in the tournament’s inaugural staging last year.
COURSE: The Pelican Golf Club is a Donald Ross design of the 1920’s renovated and partially restored three years ago by Tiger Woods’ design partner, Beau Welling.
RIGHT: Sei Young Kim claimed the inaugural staging of this event in 2020. PHOTO: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.
The club’s own website offers little insight into the layout itself proclaiming that: “Pelican Golf Club combines the beauty of old-world courses of the past with state-of-the-art infrastructure. The course features manicured fairways and uninterrupted rough with greens and tees maintained at the highest levels.”
And if that isn’t enough: “You will not find a more striking course anywhere else in the region. Pelican Golf Course is the first location on the west coast of Florida to have Latitude 36 Bermudagrass on all fairways. Latitude 36 keeps its vibrant green colour during the winter months for much longer than other courses, which ensures gorgeous grounds all season long.”
Those long lasting ‘gorgeous grounds’ proved a good test of the golf skills of the world’s best women last year with Kim’s winning total of 14-under hard earned.
She was three shots clear of runner-up Ally McDonald but testament to the nature of the questions the course asked was that just 19 players finished in red figures.
The par-70 layout boasts wide driving corridors and areas of short grass around the greens allowing for more creative short game play.
However, simply finding the putting surfaces is no guarantee of getting down in two with some testing contours in play.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Nelly Korda and Jin Young Ko stand out as the two best players in the world but there is no shortage of stars on hand to keep them honest.
Last week’s winner Lydia Ko will likely have some fatigue to deal with after a long flight back from Saudi Arabia but if that isn’t an issue look for her to be around the top come Sunday.
The New Zealander was T4 here last year and in current form will be a danger even if not at 100 per cent.
The defending champion is also one to watch despite having a less than stellar season to date.
Kim’s game is well suited to the style of golf demanded at Pelican and at this level the good memories of a past performance can prove powerful.
Of the rest, Australia’s own Su Oh should find the style of golf to her liking and while she finished well down the standings in 2020 she has shown glimpses of good form in the second half of this season.
72-HOLE RECORD: 266, Sei Young Kim (2020).
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: No Australian has won this event.
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Sarah Kemp, Katherine Kirk, Su Oh and Sarah Jane Smith.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 2am – 5am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 2am – 5am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 507 LIVE 5am – 8am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 507 LIVE 5am – 8am)
*AEDT, check local guides