LPGA stars return to China for Blue Bay

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The LPGA returns to China this week as the golfers will head to Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course in Hainan for the Blue Bay LPGA.

It's the second time in four weeks that the LPGA has made a stop in the world's most populous nation.

A total of 81 players will be on hand Thursday for the start of 72-hole, no-cut event - 61 of them members of the LPGA Tour.

Defending champion Sei Young Kim from South Korea and Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand are the biggest names in a field that also includes Brooke Henderson from Canada, Beatriz Recari from Spain, Pornanong Phatlum from Thailand and Gerina Piller from the United States.

All told, there are seven 2016 tournament winners in the field - including Spaniard Carlota Ciganda, who defeated American Alison Lee in a playoff in Korea last week to claim her first career title.

Shanshan Feng from China, who captured a bronze medal at the recent Olympic Games in Rio, is not competing this week. World No. 1 Lydia Ko is also taking a week off.

The players who are here however have a lot for which to play, apart from a $2.1 million purse.

Kim scored a dramatic win on this same golf course a year ago when she sank a 7-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole to score a one-shot win over Stacy Lewis, Candie Kung and Kim Kaufman. The victory helped her win the Louise Suggs Rookie off the Year Award in 2015.

It also proved to be a jumping off point for Kim's 2016 season, one that has seen her win twice and make the South Korean Olympic team. She comes to this tournament seeking her sixth career victory.

The winner of this tournament will have to prove her mettle on one of the most demanding golf courses on the LPGA tour. The layout plays to a card 6,778 yards with a par of 72.