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LPGA stars yet to commit to Las Vegas Match Play tourney

So much for the theory about its place on the schedule being the issue.

The first two editions of the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play at Shadow Creek were missing several of the game’s top players.

Organizers and players partially blamed their absence on the U.S. Women’s Open falling the following week on the schedule, keeping players like Lydia Ko, Nelly Korda and Lexi Thompson away from Las Vegas as they prepared and rested for the year’s biggest tournament.

Year three of the Match Play rolls around next week, and the U.S. Women’s Open is now in July. But instead of drawing more top stars to Las Vegas, the field is shaping up to be considerably weaker.

Players still have until Friday to officially enter the tournament, but as of Tuesday, just two players in the top 10 in the world rankings – No. 4 Lilia Vu and No. 9 Brooke Henderson – and seven in the top 20 are planning to play at Shadow Creek.

Not only are players like Korda, Thompson and Ko not coming, but top stars who have been to Las Vegas in the past have not yet put their names into the field. This includes top 10 players Jin Young Ko, Minjee Lee, Atthaya Thitikul and Georgia Hall.

Eun Hee-Ji will be back to defend her title, as will 2021 champion Ally Ewing at the five-day tournament that begins May 24.

Las Vegas student honored

A Las Vegas honors student and golfer will be heading off to Harvard in the fall thanks in part to a scholarship from the LPGA Foundation.

Lauren Wong, who graduates this month from West Career and Technical Academy, is one of five recipients of the 2023 Chevron Changing the Face of Golf Scholarship, presented by the LPGA Foundation.

Wong was a four-year captain of the Palo Verde golf team and one of the top junior players in the country. She is ranked 39th in the 2023 graduating class and No. 130 overall by the American Junior Golf Association.

The scholarships, worth $10,000 over four years, are awarded to female high school seniors of minority background pursuing a full-time, STEM-focused course of study.

In addition to her golf pursuits, Wong has earned an enormous list of academic honors and served for two years on the Nevada Youth Legislature, where she helped pass two bills to fund education and close the learning gap due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She also founded the nonprofit Nevada Girls in STEM, a female empowerment platform.

Wong told the LPGA Foundation that she has a desire to learn more about the intersection of business, science and technology, and will pursue that at Harvard with a goal of contributing to innovative solutions to move humanity forward.

US Open qualifier

The last of 109 local qualifiers for next month’s U.S. Open are wrapping up, and another Las Vegas resident has made his way into final qualifying. Jhared Hack shot a 3-under 67 at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, to claim the fourth and final spot in that qualifier.

Hack gained some national notoriety in 2021 when he shot a 57 during a round at Las Vegas Golf Club. He will be among approximately 530 players battling for about 70 spots in final qualifying early next month trying to play their way into the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club.

Chip shots

* Brandon Lorain (championship), John Bobroski (senior), Jeffrey English (silver) and Jerry Algeo (net) were winners of the SNGA Short Game Championship at Eagle Crest Golf Club last week.

* Las Vegas Golf Club will host its Memorial Day Scramble on May 28 with a 7:30 a.m. shotgun start. Cost is $168 per team and includes a lunch buffet and on-course contests.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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