It’s the 35th playing of the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer in Galloway, N.J. at Seaview, a Dolce Hotel, and the field features seven past champions as well as four of the top 10 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Tee times begin at 7:30 a.m. on Friday for this 54-hole event and here are a few groups to be watching throughout the first and second rounds.
Friday 8:41 a.m. - Atthaya Thitikul, Marina Alex, Aditi Ashok
It seems strange that the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer is the 12th event of the 2023 LPGA Tour season and we’ve yet to see Atthaya Thitikul lift a trophy. The 2022 rookie won twice in her first season on the LPGA Tour, and so far this year, she’s recorded six top-10 finishes in eight starts, including a solo third that came at the Honda LPGA Thailand, a T5 in Clifton, N.J. at the Cognizant Founders Cup and a T10 at last week’s Mizuho Americas Open in Jersey City. Considering that recent history in the Garden State, she’s certainly a player to keep your eye on at Seaview.
Marina Alex had the comeback of the year last week at Liberty National Golf Club. The New Jersey native opened the week with an 8-over 80, putting herself at the bottom of the leaderboard in a tie for 115th. Never one to give up, Alex fired an impressive 8-under 64 on Friday to even things out and easily make the cut that ultimately fell at 2-over. She would go on to finish T39, carding rounds of 72 and 73 over the weekend, and will be looking forward to another opportunity to play in front of her hometown crowd this week in Jersey.
Ladies European Tour winner Aditi Ashok has been arguably one of the hottest players on Tour in recent weeks and is more than due for a win. Though she missed her first three cuts of the season, Ashok has found something as of late, finishing in the top five in three of her last four LPGA Tour starts, including a T2 that came at the JM Eagle LA Championship presented by Plastpro when Ashok lost to Hannah Green in a playoff. She already has a win this year at the Magical Kenya Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour and you can be sure she’s itching to add to that trophy count on the LPGA Tour.
Friday 8:52 a.m. - Brooke Henderson, Georgia Hall, Anna Nordqvist
Defending champion Brooke Henderson looks to successfully defend her title for the third time in her LPGA Tour career this week in Galloway, N.J. and hopes to shift her momentum in a positive direction with four major championships on tap this summer. She won the first event of the 2023 season, the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, but has stalled as of late, missing two cuts and only nabbing one top-15 finish, a T11 at the LOTTE Championship presented by Hoakalei. With another title defense on deck in July at the Amundi Evian Championship, Henderson needs her game to kick into high gear, and Seaview could provide the perfect place for it to do so.
Like Ashok, Georgia Hall seems more than due for her third career LPGA Tour victory after a stellar start to the 2023 season. She’s recorded a pair of back-to-back runner ups at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Superstition Mountain and the DIO Implant LA Open, and has three additional top 10s to her credit, including a T10 at the Cognizant Founders Cup in May. Hall ranks second in rounds under par this season with 25 and is fifth in scoring average (69.72) so she’s a player to pay close attention to as consistency tends to eventually pays off.
Rounding out the trio of major champions is Anna Nordqvist, who is looking to move her LPGA Tour win count into the double-digits in an event she’s won twice before. Nordqvist is the only back-to-back champion of the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer, winning the event in 2015 and 2016 with 54-hole totals of 8-under and 17-under respectively. She never once shot in the 70s those two years and has five top-five finishes in addition to her two victories, the most recent of which was a solo fourth in 2019.
Friday 1:52 p.m. - Ayaka Furue, Matilda Castren, Paula Creamer
Ayaka Furue once again came oh-so close once again in the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play presented by MGM Rewards a few weeks ago, finishing runner up to Pajaree Anannarukarn after losing in the championship match for the second consecutive year. But the 23-year-old quickly put the loss out of her mind and grabbed her fifth top five of the season last week at the Mizuho Americas Open, firing rounds of 69-74-69-69 to finish T4 at Liberty National Golf Club. Furue became a Rolex First-Time Winner as a rookie at last year’s Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open and is continuing to chase that elusive second victory.
LPGA Tour winner Matilda Castren has had a bit of a rough go at it this season, missing three cuts in 10 starts this season and only managing to record one top-25 finish, a T21 at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. This is her third appearance at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, and in her previous two starts in 2020 and 2021, she finished T58 and T27, respectively.
In her first full season since becoming an #LPGAMom to her daughter, Hilton, Paula Creamer returns to a venue that suits her game and that she’s nearly won at before. Competing as a sponsor invite in 2004, Creamer finished T2 at 10-under, just one stroke back of champion Cristie Kerr, and in the years since, she has grabbed five additional top 10 finishes at Seaview. It’s been a tough year for Creamer with one withdrawal and four missed cuts, but the Pink Panther is happy to be back at an event that holds so many fond memories and to be teeing it up on a golf course she knows like the back of her hand.