BELMONT — Some of the best golfers in the world are descending upon West Michigan this weekend for the eighth iteration of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give at Blythefield Country Club.
The 144-player field is stacked with talent and features every single previous winner of the tournament dating back to the inaugural one in 2014. Eighteen of the top 25 players in the world are slated to hit the links right outside of Grand Rapids as well, including Inbee Park, Anna Nordqvist and Jessica Korda. They'll all be using this weekend as a tune-up before one of the LPGA's majors, the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, the following week.
While those are three big names in the LPGA world, there are still several more players that you might want to watch a tad closer this weekend. Here are five of the LPGA's best that have a chance to hoist the trophy on the 18th green Sunday evening.
Nelly Korda, the younger sister of Jessica Korda, is the reigning champion at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. In 2021 she fired a tournament-record 21-under par to claim a two-stroke victory. The following week she claimed the first major of her career at the KPMG. The Meijer LPGA Classic served as a bit of a catalyst to her young career, because just a few weeks after claiming the title she rose to the world No. 1 ranking and won an Olympic gold medal in Beijing.
The 23-year-old has since fallen to No. 2 in the world and was sidelined since March with a blood clot, but returned to tournament play earlier this month after surgery. She tied for 8th place at the U.S. Women's open. The Meijer LPGA Classic will be just her second tournament back after her surgery. She has a total of seven Tour victories in her career, including four in 2021.
Maguire nearly made history in her first trip to Blythefield in 2021 by becoming the first Irish woman to win an LPGA Tour event. She fell just two strokes short after Korda's record-breaking Saturday round. Last fall she was the first-ever Irish player to be selected to represent Team Europe in the Solheim Cup, where she went undefeated and sparked a 15-13 win over Team USA. She just had to wait a little bit longer to finally earn that first victory on Tour for the Emerald Isle, though, winning the LPGA Drive On Championship back in February.
The 27-year-old enjoys playing at Blythefield and said last year that the course brings a familiarity to her, reminding her of several courses back home in Ireland. She is currently the No. 24 ranked player in the world and has a real shot to get her second Tour victory in her return to West Michigan.
Henderson, a 24-year-old from Canada, is the only golfer to have won the Meijer LPGA Classic twice. She claimed her first title back in 2017 and won the event again two years later in 2019. Blythefield is clearly a course that suits her eye and play style. She struggled in the event last year, posting a two-under-par and failing to make the cut for the final two rounds of the weekend.
That was a bit of an anomaly for her, though. She's gotten back on track and is ranked just outside the top 10 as the No. 11 golfer in the world. Henderson is also in a bit of a groove. She comes into the tournament having just won the Shoprite LPGA Classic last weekend, marking her 11th career victory on the Tour. Like Korda, she's also won one major.
Ko, who is currently ranked No. 4 in the world, has an eye-popping 17 career Tour wins and has two major championships since turning pro in 2014. The 25-year-old most recently won in January of this year and earned another victory back in 2021.
She's never earned the title at Blythefield but has come close several times. Last year she finished in 61st place with a three-under-par for the tournament. That was her worst performance in West Michigan, though. She's finished in the top-10 on three occasions with a best finish of third place back in 2018. She's playing some really good golf heading into this week as well, finishing in the top five in three of the last four tournaments she's competed in.
Thompson is probably the most well-known name to the non-golf fan on this list. She turned pro back in 2010 when she was just 15-years-old. She earned full-time LPGA Tour status just two years later and has been a force in the golf world ever since. The native of Broward County, Florida is currently ranked as the No. 6 golfer in the world. She has amassed 11 career Tour victories and finished in the top 10 a whopping 81 times. She's yet to win an event in 2022, but she has finished in the top-10 four times, including a second-place finish back in May at the Founders Cup, which was the second most-recent time she's competed on the tour.
Thompson won the Meijer LPGA Classic back in 2015.
Television coverage of the tournament can be seen from Thursday to Sunday on Golf Channel.
This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: 5 golfers to watch at Meijer LPGA Classic in West Michigan