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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Kia Classic Has a New Name

This year it becomes the JTBC Classic, but it's still at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad CA.

Defending champion Inbee Park

The girls are back in California to get their season underway in earnest after three events in Florida, a short break, two events in Asia and another brief break. While this may sound like a problem, this pattern of short runs with breaks in-between may help the LPGA keep stronger fields overall in the next few months since players get some time to rest.

While it's easy to write the JTBC Classic off as a minor tournament, it definitely serves as a warmup for the tour's first major of the year, the newly-renamed Chevron Championship (formerly the ANA Inspiration). Eight of the Rolex Top10 are in the field this week -- Jessica Korda is of course resting after that blood clot scare, and Yuka Saso is the other skipping this event.

Inbee Park is the defending champion. Also of interest is Brooke Henderson, who will be putting a 46-inch driver into play for the first time. (The Kia is putting the USGA's new maximum driver length local rule in effect. Brooke normally grips down on a 48-incher.)

GC's live coverage begins Thursday at 6:30pm ET. (California events = prime time coverage.) I admit I'm most interested to see how Brooke fares. I wonder if she'll try counterweighting the grip like Jack Nicklaus did so many years ago?

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