On the heels of Thailand’s dominant and awe-inspiring win at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown at TPC Harding Park, the LPGA Tour will travel cross country to celebrate the 13 Founders of the LPGA at the Cognizant Founders Cup. As always, the event has attracted the best and brightest and promises exciting competition.
Ode to the Founders
The Cognizant Founders Cup was created in 2011 as a tribute to the 13 founding members of the LPGA: Alice Bauer, Patty Berg, Bettye Danoff, Helen Dettweiler, Marlene Bauer Hagge, Helen Hicks, Opal Hill, Betty Jameson, Sally Sessions, Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork, Louise Suggs and Babe Zaharias. They did anything and everything for the tour, from organizing the tournaments and setting up the courses to writing bylaws and overseeing membership, when it got its start in 1950. The Cognizant Founders Cup serves as a both a reminder of their dedication to the game and as a tribute to their hard work and sacrifices.
Returning to the Upper Montclair Country Club for the second time, the Cognizant Founders Cup will kick off what the LPGA and PGA of America have called the “Year of Women’s Golf” in New Jersey. Including the Cognizant Founders Cup, there will be four events held in the Garden State over the next six weeks. The next tournament in New Jersey is the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open, which will feature 24 elite amateurs playing alongside the LPGA’s best in a concurrent AJGA Invitational. The Shoprite LPGA Classic presented by ACER will follow in June and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will serve as a fitting finale for the Jersey slate.
Luck of the Defender
With ever increasing parity on Tour, defending a title only becomes harder and harder with each passing year. Since 2018, five players have combined to defend their title only eight times. Jin Young Ko leads the group with three successful title defenses, one of which came when she won the Cognizant Founders Cup in 2019 and 2021. Having won the 2022 edition of the event by two strokes over Lexi Thompson, Minjee Lee will put up her first defense of the season and hopes to add her name to that prestigious list of defenders. Though Lee’s start to 2023 hasn’t been as electric as her 2022 campaign, she will have momentum on her side. Last week, Australia finished second in the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown courtesy of several wins from Lee and her playing partners.
Thailand Back in Play
All four members of Thailand’s winning team will be in New Jersey this weekend. Atthaya Thitikul, Patty Tavatanakit and Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn put on a clinic at TPC Harding Park to clinch Thailand’s first victory at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown. The foursome went undefeated, 6-0-0, in the first three days of pool play, the only team to do so in the history of the tournament. The team dropped just one match in four days of play when Lilia Vu defeated Tavatanakit in the semifinals on Sunday morning. Though the weight of their new crowns might be heavy, it is a burden they will all carry happily into the Upper Montclair Country Club as they take on their next challenge.
Six of the Tour’s seven winners this season will also be in attendance this weekend. The group is highlighted by Vu and the Tour’s most recent winner, Hannah Green. Before joining Lee and the Australian team for a second-place finish at TPC Harding Park last week, Green won the JM Eagle LA Championship presented by Plastpro, outlasting Aditi Ashok and Xiyu Lin in a three-way playoff for her third win and the first since 2019. Meanwhile, Vu is the only player on the tour to register multiple wins so far this season. She started off her hot streak at the Honda LPGA Thailand where she became a first-time winner and followed it up just months later with her first major title at the Chevron Championship. Vu currently leads the Tour with a 68.909 scoring average.