The Buick LPGA Shanghai is set to make its long-awaited return to the LPGA Tour after a hiatus of three years. The tournament last took place in 2019 before the global pandemic struck, and a lot has changed since then.
One notable change is the significant reshaping of the women’s golf game. The top-two ranked players in the field, Lilia Vu and Ruoning Yin, represent this transformation. When the tournament was last played in Shanghai, Vu was a rookie on the LPGA Tour and couldn’t qualify for the event. Yin, on the other hand, was an amateur golfer ranked 64th in the world. Fast forward three years, and Vu is now the top-ranked American in women’s golf, having won three times this season, including two major championships. Yin has also had an exceptional season, winning two tournaments, including her first major title.
Amidst all these changes, some things have remained the same. Defending champion Danielle Kang continues to be one of the top-ranked players in the women’s game. After years of anticipation, Kang will finally have the opportunity to go for a third consecutive victory in China. In 2018, she won by two strokes, and in 2019, she successfully defended her title by holding off Jessica Korda to win by a single stroke on her 27th birthday.
Kang has spoken highly of the Qizhong Garden Golf Club, the host venue, which will welcome the Buick LPGA Shanghai for the third time this year. The course provides a challenge from tee to green, favoring strong ball striking. The undulated greens require players to hit precise shots to specific pockets in order to attack the pins. Kang enjoys the demanding nature of the course, stating, “I do really, really enjoy this golf course a lot.”
Kang enters the tournament aiming for her first victory of the season and a remarkable third consecutive win in Shanghai. With tough competition from the likes of Vu, Yin, Minjee Lee, and Lydia Ko, who are also headlining the field, Kang faces stiff competition.
Additionally, 14 rookies will make their debut in the tournament in China. These rookies have experienced significant changes in their lives since the last Buick LPGA Shanghai. In 2019, Rose Zhang was a 16-year-old competitor in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, Grace Kim became Australia’s top-ranked amateur, and Hae Ran Ryu made the decision to begin her professional career mid-season.
The limited field of 81 players will include 62 from the LPGA Tour, 15 from the China Ladies Professional Golf Association, and four sponsor invites. The event is a no-cut tournament played over 72 holes, and the purse is set at $2.1 million. It provides an excellent opportunity for players to earn valuable points towards qualifying for the CME Group Tour Championship or securing their card for the next season. Furthermore, it allows them to advance in the season-long standings for awards such as Rolex Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Vare Trophy, and Money Title.
The return of the Buick LPGA Shanghai is highly anticipated after a three-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament signifies not only a chance for new faces to compete in China but also the resurgence of a tour filled with talented athletes eager to make their mark on Shanghai once again.