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What to look for in the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions | LPGA

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The LPGA kicked off its 2023 campaign in style at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. Twenty-nine winners from the past two seasons light the field in this unique season opener. Hosted by Lake Nona Golf & Country Club last year, the event returns to the same venue with equal star power. Whether you want to see world No. 2 ranked player Nelly Korda or Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam, they are both here to compete and win.

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Speaking of winning, how does one successfully tame this beautiful Tom Fazio design? Lake Nona opened in 1987 to critical acclaim. It was Fazio’s first independent work. The course hosted the Solheim Cup in 1990 and continues to push the edge of the women’s game today with the Tournament of Champions. Measuring 6,608 yards, the Par 72 layout challenges you to 57 stashes and 12 doglegs from the tee.

The course offers a northern feel with tree lined fairways and neatly laid out bunkers. Level 3 is challenging while Level 5 gives women and professional participants a chance to sign up. Eleven holes have water in play including the last six. This is a very nervous and narrow stretch of these competitors. What does it take to hold the trophy like Danielle Kang did last year? Just take a moment and think about this analysis.

  • Lake Nona offers a variety of Valence 4s. Any competitor will need to navigate these ten holes carefully to set themselves apart. The best players from 2022 on the field are: Brooke Henderson, Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Charley Hull and Ayaka Furue.
  • Tee shots on those four pars are crucial because seven of the ten holes have fairways that have curves. Of these seven, six move from left to right, favoring the right-handed fader from the tee box. The best hitters from last season in the field are: Nelly Korda, Yuka Sasso, Brooke Henderson, Allie Ewing, Nana Korszt-Madsen, and Jennifer Copshaw.
  • You can’t just attack Lake Nona from the tee. Successful competitors will make use of their irons, too. More than 55% of approach shots fall in the range of 125 – 175 yards. The 2022 Approach Champions in the field are: Andrea Lee, Celine Potter, Daniel Kang, Ali Ewing and Brooke Henderson.
  • Fazio gave the greens at Lake Nona plenty of accurate moves. Mastering these concrete surfaces takes a delicate touch. Walking the course one can easily see that they are in excellent condition. Taking advantage of your chances when they come is one of the things Danielle did on her way to winning last year. On the field, here are the best flat-stick ladies from the 22 campaign: Ayaka Forio, Paula Retto, Celine Potter, Nana Korszt-Madsen, Charlie Hull, and of course, defenseman Danielle Kang.

It’s easy to look at the entire field and quickly assume that the player with the higher rating will win. Nelly might, but the reality watching this week will likely tell a different story. Watch the aforementioned ladies and your favorite guys.

The weather is perfect for recording in Orlando. Temperatures will reach nearly 80 degrees each day with winds in the low teens. The outlook is dry, and the track is clean. We have waited 60 days for the LPGA to come back. Walking into the training range, I can feel the excitement. It is difficult to say who will win the Tournament of Champions. One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was one of the names mentioned more than once above.

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