BELLEAIR FL. — The Pelican Women’s Championship had a spectacular leaderboard last year. This year, it is more of the same. Marquee names such as defending champion Nelly Corda (8 under) or Lexi Thompson (9 under), are close behind rookie Allisen Corpsuz (10 under), who although hasn’t won yet, has played well enough for the CME Group Tour Championship.
Corpuz, Maria Fassi, overnight leader, and 11 other first-time champions have made this a record season.
Maja Stark, a young Swede, won the ISPS Hands World Invitational, Northern Ireland, over the summer to earn her LPGA Card. She is now back, having scored a stunning 63.
Corpuz made the decision to withdraw from last week’s Japan event a month ago in order to recover for the next two events. Megan Khang, a longtime friend from USC, has been a great help this year.
Corpuz stated, “Definitely before I came on tour I was expecting to maybe really work for my card.” He added that he is very happy that he doesn’t have to worry about it at this point.
“I believe I know I’m a solid player and it’s really nice to see the results so early.”
Stark learned balance through hard lessons, including getting sick multiple times after events. Due to inflammation in her shoulder, she was unable to touch a club for three weeks. Then, she took a week off in order to coach the Swedish national soccer team in Spain.
Stark said, “I’ve always seen many of the Swedes returning and giving back.” “We had Anna Nordqvist in a couple camps, Pernilla Langberg, Henrik Stenson.
“So, after seeing them, and then they go out to play really well after meeting with the girls’ teams, so it was good inspiration for me too. To see their work and gain perspective, have fun on the golf course, and not feel the stress that my current situation is causing.
Thompson won a LET tournament in New York recently, but has not won the LPGA event since 2019. He posted a 67 and hit 12 fairways, 16 greens.
Thompson said that there were some pins that were tucked slightly more than yesterday’s, which made it difficult for her to feel comfortable. But she just hit away and got about 20-, 25 footers.
“But I gave myself looks and that’s all that I can do.”
Korda’s match 66s put her in fifth place, with two back. Former No. The former No. 1 won the LPGA four times last season, including this tournament. After a blood clot which left her permanently disabled, she won the LET in Spain and has not yet won on the LPGA. Both Thompson and Korda were raised in Florida, and they feel right at home in Belleair.
Korda said, “It’s been an extremely difficult year for sure.” “I also worked hard. It was definitely hard work, so it would be just hard work paying off. Everyone out there works really hard so everything has to click for someone else to win that week.
Fassi is a player who came to the LPGA with high expectations following a stellar amateur career, but has yet to make it big on the LPGA. Current No. Fassi is currently ranked 130th in the world. A strong finish this week could propel her into the CME. Fassi is currently 72nd in the points list. The season-ending event, which boasts a purse worth $7 million and a $2 million winner’s check, is open to the top 60.
Fassi finished Day 1 at 1-under 69, following her career-best score of 62.
Fassi stated, “It’s about managing expectations and understanding that while round like (62) is very achievable, it also requires a lot more work, a lot good shots, and a lot putts.”
It’s not as if everything happened by magic. It was hard work. It was a lot of work, maybe in a different manner than today. But I think it was just going back to my process of hitting good shots and trying not to be distracted. Although it’s not an easy task, this was my approach to today’s round.