Three of top four - no Ko - teeing up in LPGA opener


Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko won’t be teeing it up at the LPGA season opener next week at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic, but No. 2 Inbee Park, No. 3 Stacy Lewis and No. 4 Lexi Thompson will be there.

Defending champ Sei Young Kim, a three-time winner as the LPGA’s Rolex Rookie of the Year last season, is also returning. She’s No. 7 in the world rankings.

Ko is healthy, but she’s delaying her start to the 2016 season for another week. She’ll make her debut at the Coates Golf Championship in Ocala, Fla., Feb. 3-6.

“It’s just part of a scheduling strategy,” said Ko’s swing coach, David Leadbetter. “She just wants another week to get sharp. It isn’t that she didn’t like the golf course. She just didn’t like all the wind, and she just wanted another extra week to get ready for a very busy schedule.”

After Coates, Ko will head overseas to defend her titles in consecutive weeks at the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open and then the Women’s Australian Open. If she played the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic, she would be looking at four consecutive weeks of competition with overseas travel and two title defenses in the mix. That would have been a brutish start to an especially busy LPGA season that will include the Olympics in a hectic summer stretch of big events.

Five of the top 10 players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings will tee it up at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic. Joining Park, Lewis, Thompson and Kim at the top of the rankings is world No. 10 Hyo Joo Kim. Also scheduled to play are Michelle Wie, Yani Tseng, Juli Inkster, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Charley Hull, Brooke Henderson, Anna Nordqvist, Morgan Pressel, Angela Stanford, Jessica Korda, Azahara Munoz and Cheyenne Woods.