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World’s No. 1 golfer headlines field for LPGA event at Shadow Creek

Ayaka Furue has reached the championship match of the T-Mobile Match Play each of the past two years at Shadow Creek. She’ll have to overcome the best field in tournament history if she hopes to get back again next week.

Nelly Korda, Celine Boutier, Lydia Ko, Minjee Lee and a host of the LPGA Tour’s top players are officially in the field after entries closed Friday afternoon. It’s a mixture of current stars, up-and-coming players and 21 major championship winners in the 96-player field.

Korda is at the top of the list, playing in Las Vegas for the first time in the tournament’s four-year history. The world’s top-ranked player has won her last two starts on the LPGA Tour and is in contention this week at the halfway point of the Ford Championship outside Phoenix, making it possible she could be chasing four consecutive wins next week.

The tour’s three most popular players — Lexi Thompson, Brooke Henderson and Rose Zhang — will all be at Shadow Creek. Henderson has been a regular in the tournament, while Thompson and Zhang are making their debuts. The last time Thompson played in Las Vegas, she flirted with making the cut in the PGA Tour’s Shriners Children’s Open.

In addition to Zhang, four other Las Vegas players will be in the tournament, which begins Wednesday with three days of stroke play and two days of match play on the weekend. Veterans Danielle Kang, Jenny Shin and Alison Lee are back for the fourth time, while UNLV junior McKenzi Hall is playing an LPGA event for the first time thanks to a sponsor invite.

Young stars in the field include Andrea Lee, Allisen Corpuz, Sarah Schmelzel, Albane Valenzuela and Megan Khang, while veteran major championship winners include Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Angela Stanford and Anna Nordqvist.

Pajaree Anannarukarn, who defeated Furue 3 and 1 in last year’s championship match, is back to defend her title.

Top players who are bypassing Las Vegas include No. 2 Lilia Vu, who has been battling back issues, and No. 6 Jin Young Ko, who has previously expressed a dislike for match play.

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

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