The 2016 LPGA Tour season will kick off in the Bahamas this week, as the South Korean contingent eyes another dominant year.
The $1.4 million Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic will start Thursday at the par-73 Ocean Club Golf Course on Paradise Island, Bahamas. South Korean Kim Sei-young, the tour's reigning Rookie of the Year, is the defending champion.
Kim won three times last year, and she was one of eight different South Korean champions who combined for a record 15 wins in 31 tournaments in 2015.
There will be 32 tournaments this year, not counting the UL International Crown, an international match play competition.
Kim, ranked seventh in the world, will face some stiff challenge from her compatriots, with world No. 2 Park In-bee also in the field.
Kim and Park, along with No. 5 Ryu So-yeon and the eighth-ranked Amy Yang, are currently in position to make the national team for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where golf will be contested for the first time in 112 years.
Those inside the top 15 on the world rankings are eligible, with a limit of four golfers per each country. South Korea currently boasts eight players inside the top 15, and if the eligibility period ended Tuesday, former major champions Chun In-gee (No. 9) and Kim Hyo-joo (No. 10) would be left out.
The Olympic spots will be determined by the world rankings as of July 11. With relatively little separation among the four Koreans bunched up from No. 7 to 10, the jostling for position should go down to the wire.
World No. 1 Lydia Ko will be skipping this event for scheduling reasons. She will instead start her LPGA season next week at the Coates Golf Championship in Florida and will then head home to defend her title at the New Zealand Women's Open the following week. (Yonhap)