Kia Classic LPGA tournament begins today in Carlsbad


Last updated 3/28/2019 at 10:38am

CARLSBAD - The $1.8 million Kia Classic begins Thursday, March 28 at the Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad with a field including 74 of the top 80 players on the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, led by South Korean Sung Hyun Park, the world's top-ranked player.

Park moved into the top spot in the rankings for the third time in her career when she won the LPGA Tour's HSBC Women's World Championship March 3 in Singapore. She won the LPGA of Taiwan's The Country Club Ladies Invitational in Manila, the Philippines, the following week.

Park tied for 14th in last week's Bank of Hope Founders Cup in Phoenix.

The 10th edition of the tournament has drawn eight of the past nine champions -- Eun-Hee Ji, Mirim Lee, Lydia Ko, Cristie Kerr, Anna Nordqvist, Beatriz Recari, Yani Tseng and Sandra Gal, who are all seeking to be the first two-time champion.

The only past champion missing is South Korean Hee-kyung Seo, who won the inaugural 2010 tournament and officially retired from professional golf in November 2015 to spend more time with her family.

Michelle Wie announced Monday she was withdrawing from the tournament due to her wrist injury that forced her to withdraw from her title defense in Singapore at the end of February. She had played in each of the first nine editions of the tournament.

The 144-player field includes two players who went to high school in San Diego County -- Tiffany Joh (Rancho Bernardo High) and Alana Uriell (Carlsbad High).

Uriell had to wait until the final cutoff to find out if she would play in the tournament. The day before tournament entries closed, she was fourth on the alternate list.

"Kia Classic has always been the No. 1,'' Uriell said. "It's at my home course. I was just so happy to be able to live out this dream of playing here after I've been watching this tournament for so long.''

Uriell said she learned how to swing a golf club at the corner of the Aviara Golf Club's driving range. She said the first person she texted when she learned she would be playing in the tournament was her coach, Jason Puterbaugh, a club instructor "that I've been going to since I was a kid.''

"To live out this moment with my coach on our home course is just amazing,'' Uriell said.

Uriell graduated in May from the University of Arkansas where she was a second-team All-America selection by the Women's Golf Coaches Association as a senior.

In her debut as a professional, Uriell won the SKYiGOLF Championship on the developmental Symetra Tour March 10 in North Port, Florida, sinking a 10-foot putt for an eagle on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.

"I'm going to remember making that eagle putt for a long time,'' Uriell said. "I was definitely nervous, but really the best part was that I embraced the nerves, visualized the shot and it turned out really good. If you told me this before the week started, I wouldn't believe you. It feels really good and it was such an honor to play in this tournament.''

Uriell shared the lead with four other players after the first round of the LPGA Tour's Bank of Hope Founders Cup with a 7-under-par 65 last Thursday. She finished the tournament tied for 40th with a 10-under-par 278, 12 shots off the lead.

Today is Women's Leadership Day, which gives LPGA Tour players and local professional women the opportunity to generate business relationships and bond over golf.

Women's Leadership Day will include a panel discussion on women's golf, featuring LPGA Tour players Danielle Kang, Paula Creamer, Tania Tare and golf media personality Nikki B. CBS Sports broadcaster Amanda Balionis will moderate the panel.

Friday is Military Appreciation Day. Saturday is Family Day, with a coloring contest, special autograph sessions and a junior clinic on the driving range at 3 p.m. featuring LPGA players.

A sunrise service will be held at 7 a.m. Sunday on the 18th green led by the LPGA chaplain. All participants receive free admission into the tournament for the day.

A one-day general admission ticket is $20 while a general admission ticket good for the entire tournament is $40.

A clubhouse ticket good for upgraded access to the Aviara Clubhouse with entry into the Argyle bar with drinks and food available for purchase is $40 for one day and $80 for the entire tournament. A clubhouse ticket includes access to upgraded restrooms and general grounds access for the course.

A one-day ticket for The Champions Club is $150. It allows access to the hospitality area on the 18th green and includes complimentary lunch, snacks and full bar. The suite also includes an open-air, covered space with a view of the 18th tee, fairway, and green. This ticket also includes general grounds access to the course.

All military personnel with military identification and their family receive free daily general admission.

Children 17 years old and under receive free grounds admission with a ticketed adult.

The tournament will air on Golf Channel from 6-8 p.m. today, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, and 4-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The field will be cut to the top 70 and ties following Friday's second round. The winner will receive $270,000.


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