Top stars from the 2015 LPGA Tour will join up-and-coming amateurs in competing for the title at the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout in Irving.
The 72-hole event, which begins Thursday at Las Colinas Country Club, includes eight of the top 10 players in the women’s world golf rankings, as well as 20 of the top 25.
All five major champions from the 2014 season will be in the field: Lexi Thompson (Kraft Nabisco Championship), Michelle Wie (U.S. Women’s Open), Mo Martin (Women’s British Open), Hyo-Joo Kim (Evian Championship) and Inbee Park (Women’s LPGA).
Also included is Stacy Lewis, the defending champion and No. 3 player in the world rankings. Among the qualifiers are two high school players who earned their spots in March and two college golfers who will be added to the field after an 18-hole qualifying event Monday.
A look at five storylines to track during tournament week in Irving:
▪ Fort Worth factor: Angela Stanford and Gerina Piller, Fort Worth residents who were teammates on the 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup team, will be competing in front of galleries loaded with family and friends. Stanford, a former TCU and Saginaw Boswell standout, has five victories and 80 top-10 finishes in her LPGA career. Piller, a UT El Paso graduate, has 17 top-10 finishes and still seeks her first tour title. Once the event concludes in Irving, Stanford and Piller will join several fellow LPGA competitors at Stanford’s annual charity event, the Let Your Light Shine Charity Golf Tournament, May 4 at Mira Vista Country Club in Fort Worth. The event raises money for local charities and provides college scholarships for high school students whose lives have been impacted by cancer.
▪ Elite competitors: The top four golfers in the world rankings have committed to play in Irving: Lydia Ko (No. 1), Park (No. 2), Lewis (No. 3) and Hyo-Joo Kim (No. 4). Lewis, the defending champion in Irving, is a native of The Woodlands who played college golf at Arkansas. Park won the 2013 title in Irving, the inaugural year of the North Texas Shootout. Ko, a New Zealand native who celebrated her 18th birthday Friday, became on Feb. 2 the youngest professional golfer (male or female) to reach No. 1 in the world rankings . She has remained there for 12 consecutive weeks. Other top-10 players in the field include So Yeon Ryu (No. 7), Suzann Pettersen (No. 8), Wie (No. 9) and Thompson (No. 10).
▪ Young challengers: High school golfers Amber Wang and Dominique Galloway earned tickets to compete against the pros by grabbing the top two spots at the High School Shootout, held March 11 at the Las Colinas layout. Wang, from Sugar Land, fired a 67 at the 18-hole qualifier. Galloway, from Rio Rancho, N.M., posted a 72. The final two spots in the event are reserved for the top two finishers at Monday’s qualifier for 24 college golfers at Las Colinas Country Club.
▪ Notable niece: Cheyenne Woods, an LPGA Tour rookie and two-time All-American at Wake Forest, seeks to follow the lead of her famous uncle, Tiger, by prevailing in her first professional appearance in Irving. Tiger Woods, then 21, won the 1997 Byron Nelson Championship in his first professional appearance at Irving’s annual PGA Tour stop. Cheyenne Woods, 24, is No. 225 in the world rankings and has earned $20,999 in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour. Her father, Earl Woods Jr., is Tiger’s half-brother.
<bullet>Major players: Golfers headed to Irving have combined to win 46 major championships, led by LPGA Hall of Famers Juli Inkster (7) and Karrie Webb (7). Others with multiple major titles include Park (5), Se Ri Pak (5), Yani Tseng (5), Laura Davies (4), Cristie Kerr (2) and Lewis (2). Players with one major title include Na Yeon Choi, Paula Creamer, Eun-Hee Ji, Kim, Martin, Morgan Pressel, Thompson, Wie and Sun Young Yoo.
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760