LA Championship 2024 Tips: 175/1 shot one of five for Los Angeles

 | April 24 | 

21 mins read

jamie LPGA

The all conquering Nelly Korda withdrew from the field after her fifth straight tournament win, which may give hope to the other players in Los Angeles this week. As always, we've asked our LPGA expert Jamie Worsley to give us his preview, as well as five each-way selections ranging from 22/1 to 175/1. Here are Jamie's LA Championship Predictions. 

LA Championship Betting Tips

  • 2.25 pts Ruoning Yin each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 22/1 
  • 1.5 pts Hannah Green each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 33/1
  • 1 pt Jin Hee Im each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 80/1 
  • 1 pt Andrea Lee each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 80/1
  • 0.75 pts Yealimi Noh each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 175/1

Is there any stopping Nelly Korda? That is a question the players at this week’s JM Eagle LA Championship will be thankful not to be asking, as the world #1 withdrew following her incredible record-equalling fifth straight win in last week’s first major of the year - only the third player to achieve the feat after Hall of Famers, Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez.

There was something inevitable yet still surprising about Korda’s brilliant victory. She of course is playing unbelievable golf but the list of players to win five straight events was only two-strong for a reason.

As the nerves started to show on the back nine on Sunday, causing her previously commanding lead to shrink and giving several players hope of taking the Chevron Championship from her grasp, she would’ve been forgiven for folding under the pressure but there was none of it.

After almost holing her approach to the par 3 17th, Korda hit two fine shots to reach the closing par 5 in two; rewarding her with an easy two-putt birdie to see out the tournament from a charging Maja Stark.

Perhaps just as important as writing her name in the record books was this generational talent picking up her second major championship. With further majors no doubt in her sights and going for that outright record of six straight wins on her next start, there will surely be an immense amount of excitement whenever she decides to tee it up next.

This week’s event now gives an opportunity for other LPGA players to gain some confidence in the wake of Nelly’s dominance, as a strong field heads to Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles for the JM Eagle LA Championship.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY

There has been an event on the LPGA hosted at Wilshire Country Club since 2018, initially titled the LA Open. However, as Palos Verdes Golf Club took over hosting that event last year, this championship changed its name to the JM Eagle LA Championship.

That first event here in 2018 was won by Moriya Jutanugarn, who fired -12 to beat Korean superstars Inbee Park and Jin Young Ko by two strokes for a first tour success.

Minjee Lee won in comfortable fashion by four strokes in 2019 and after we returned to Wilshire in 2021 following the 2020 edition being cancelled due to covid, Brooke Henderson won a closely fought contest, seeing off Jessica Korda by one shot.

Japan’s Nasa Hataoka was a hugely impressive five-stroke winner in 2022. She beat Australia’s Hannah Green into second there, who returned to go one better here last year, taking the title after beating Aditi Ashok and Xiyu Lin in a playoff.

Green is already a winner on tour this year and returns to Wilshire, where she looks to become the first player to successfully defend their title here and indeed, record a second win at the course.

THE COURSE

Wilshire Country Club is a historic gem of a course situated in Los Angeles, where views of the famous Hollywood sign can be seen at various points. It was originally designed by English-born architect, Norman MacBeth in 1919; though Kyle Phillips completed a restoration of the venue in 2008 and will return after this year’s event to perform further changes.

At 6447 yards, this par 71 is one of the shortest courses the players will play all year. There are 11x par 4s (319-436 yards), 4x par 3s (141-180 yards) and 3x par 5s (503-532 yards).

The challenge here has always proven to be a demanding one, averaging a winning score of -13.2 across the five events, with Hannah Green’s victory last year the toughest renewal to date, with a score of -9 enough to get into a playoff.

Everything about this gently rolling course is intelligently designed and deceptively difficult. Whilst the fairways are extremely wide you can’t just recklessly thrash driver. It’s important to hit the correct side of them to create the best angles to attack the greens and avoid line-of-sight issues from the trees, that whilst not overbearing in their density, are positioned smartly.

Like much of the course, the fairways are framed by the abundance of bunkering – over 120 on the course in total – many of which are relatively deep and tricky to play out of. Stray even further from the short grass and you may find trouble from some native foliage that litters sandy waste area, whilst another standout feature of Wilshire is the deep barranca that winds its way around the property. It is in-play on 13 holes and is almost always an instant penalty should the players find it.

The small poa annua greens will be set up to play at a fast 12-12.5 on the stimp this week. Many are elevated, narrow in shape and angled away from the position in the fairway, with some severe run-offs making them tough to hit and plenty which are enclosed by deep bunkers on all sides. The subtle undulations on them combined with the speed can make them a nightmare to read and there are bound to be countless players moving to the next hole in total frustration.

The routing of the course is slightly altered for the event, with the 156-yard par 3 10th switched to the 18th hole, to enable them to build stands around the green and making for a more atmospheric finish.

It’s somewhat of a quirk to finish on a par 3, though that is in-keeping with the par 3s at the course in general, which possess some of the more interesting green complexes and surrounds on the course. Three of the four are multi-tiered double greens and heavily protected by bunkers, whilst that barranca comes into play on two of them.

Wilshire CC is a fabulous little course where two holes rarely feel the same and it will be a pleasure to watch the players try to master it again this week.

THE WEATHER

Conditions are set to be cool and dry prior to the start of the event and this looks the story of the tournament itself. With the sun coming out at the weekend and nothing too difficult on the wind front, players should relish playing the course in such pleasant conditions.

KEY STATS

  • SG: Approach
  • Greens-in-Regulation

Most players will find a lot of fairways this week and will then need to work magic with their irons to best handle this challenge.

Last year, Hannah Green ranked 1st in GIR in a copybook Wilshire performance, as she also drove it straight and long and putted just about as well as anyone. Aditi Ashok in 2nd ranked 5th in approach and 4th-place finisher, Ruoning Yin was 1st both in approach and GIR.

2022 champion, Nasa Hataoka was superb in both of these areas, ranking 4th in approach and 5th in GIR. Green was runner-up that year and again ranked 1st in GIR, whilst Minjee Lee and Inbee Park in 3rd ranked 1st and 6th in approach respectively.

That quality in approach from Lee was not a one off and she won this event in 2019, whilst 2021 winner, Brooke Henderson is another strong iron player.

  • SG: Putting (poa)

Proven poa putters have to have an advantage on these testing and quick putting surfaces. The putter has proven a vital club in each of the last two years, with Hannah Green ranking 6th when winning last year and Nasa Hataoka 2nd in putting in 2022.

The leading putters in each of those editions, Ayaka Future in 2023 and Madelene Sagstrom in 2022, have both finished top 5 and runners-up, Xiyu Lin and Hannah Green (2022) both ranked top 5 on the greens.

  • SG: Off-the-Tee

Controlled big hitting can work wonders here but the course is short enough that the more accuracy-dependent players should feel able to compete. Which is why we’ve ended up with such mixed leaderboards.

Hannah Green drove the ball exceptionally well last year, ranking 2nd off-the-tee, 5th in driving accuracy and 16th in driving distance. Whilst Ruoning Yin in 4th was 1st OTT, 10th in driving accuracy and 23rd in driving distance.

Nasa Hataoka was a solid 38th OTT when winning in 2022; Green again drove it well that year, ranking 8th; and Madelene Sagstrom in 3rd ranked 13th OTT.

Other past winners, Brooke Henderson and Minjee Lee very much tick this box too.

  • Par 4 Scoring

Finally, with those unusual par 3s and longish par 5s that are fraught with danger, I think it’s the generally short par 4s that are the key to scoring well at Wilshire.

They can be got at with quality ball-striking and it was especially notable how important it was to play them well in 2022, as each member of the top 5 ranked inside the top 10 in par 4 scoring for the week.

CORRELATING EVENTS (COURSES)

Portland Classic (Columbia Edgewater Country Club)

A spacious yet tree-lined course, with small, speedy poa annua greens and generous fairways, Columbia Edgewater and the Portland Classic can provide us with plenty of clues for this week.

Notable correlating form:

Hannah Green:

Wilshire (1st, 2nd) / Portland (1st, 3rd)

Brooke Henderson:

Wilshire (1st) / Portland (1st, 1st)

Moriya Jutanugarn:

Wilshire (1st) / Portland (3rd, 3rd)

Nasa Hataoka:

Wilshire (1st) / Portland (4th)

Minjee Lee:

Wilshire (1st) / Portland (4th)

Xiyu Lin:

Wilshire (2nd) / Portland (2nd)

So Yeon Ryu:

Wilshire (4th, 5th) / Portland (3rd)

Ruoning Yin:

Wilshire (4th) / Portland (3rd)

Swinking Skirts LPGA Classic - 2014-2016/Mediheal Championship - 2018-2021 (Lake Merced Golf Club)

We haven’t seen the California-based Lake Merced Golf Club host an event since 2021, though it still looks well worth a look. This strategic, traditional old course played to a similar length to Wilshire CC; is relatively open with generous fairways; possesses strong bunkering and has small, quick poa annua greens.

Notable correlating form:

Minjee Lee:

Wilshire (1st) / Lake Merced (2nd)

Brooke Henderson:

Wilshire (1st) / Lake Merced (3rd)

Hannah Green:

Wilshire (1st, 2nd) / Lake Merced (3rd)

Sei Young Kim:

Wilshire (2nd) / Lake Merced (1st)

Jessica Korda:

Wilshire (2nd) / Lake Merced (3rd)

Aditi Ashok:

Wilshire (2nd) / Lake Merced (7th)

Morgan Pressel:

Wilshire (3rd, 7th, 8th) / Lake Merced (2nd)

So Yeon Ryu:

Wilshire (4th, 5th) / Lake Merced (3rd, 5th)

Meijer LPGA Classic (Blythefield Country Club)

Blythefield Country Club possesses many of the same characteristics of Wilshire CC. Though fairways there are generous, players have to hit the correct side to give themselves the best chance to attack the small poa/bent mixed greens, which are mostly elevated and heavily protected by bunkers.

Notable correlating form:

Brooke Henderson:

Wilshire (1st) / Meijer (1st, 1st)

Nasa Hataoka:

Wilshire (1st) / Meijer (2nd)

Moriya Jutanugarn:

Wilshire (1st) / Meijer (4th)

Sei Young Kim:

Wilshire (2nd) / Meijer (1st)

Xiyu Lin:

Wilshire (2nd) / Meijer (3rd)

Jessica Korda:

Wilshire (2nd) / Meijer (5th)

Aditi Ashok:

Wilshire (2nd) / Meijer (8th)

So Yeon Ryu:

Wilshire (4th, 5th) / Meijer (1st)

Morgan Pressel:

Wilshire (3rd, 7th, 8th) / Meijer (6th)

Annie Park:

Wilshire (3rd) / Meijer (7th)

Hye Jin Choi:

Wilshire (6th) / Meijer (8th)

Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship (Palos Verdes Golf Club)

Though tighter off the tee and hillier than Wilshire, Palos Verdes is another Californian course with very small poa annua greens and clever, abundant bunkering, which often encircles the putting surfaces.

Notable correlating form:

Jin Young Ko:

Wilshire (2nd, 3rd) / Palos Verdes (2nd)

Hannah Green:

Wilshire (1st, 2nd) / Palos Verdes (5th)

Nasa Hataoka:

Wilshire (1st) / Palos Verdes (7th)

Annie Park:

Wilshire (3rd) / Palos Verdes (5th)

Ruoning Yin:

Wilshire (4th) / Palos Verdes (1st)

Megan Khang:

Wilshire (5th) / Palos Verdes (3rd)

Kroger Queen City Championship (Kenwood Country Club)

I’ll finish with Kenwood Country Club. The course didn’t get the chance to bare its teeth in 2022 due to very wet conditions but was much more challenging last year. It is tree-lined with generous fairways and prominent bunkering, protecting both the fairways and the quick poa/bent mixed greens.

With just two events staged there, correlating form isn’t plentiful but there have been a few notable performances.

Notable correlating form:

Minjee Lee:

Wilshire (1st) / Kroger Queen (1st)

Xiyu Lin:

Wilshire (2nd) / Kroger Queen (2nd)

Ruoning Yin:

Wilshire (4th) / Kroger Queen (3rd)

Jeongeun Lee6:

Wilshire (7th) / Kroger Queen (4th)

THE FIELD

After completing her sensational quintet of consecutive wins, Nelly Korda understandably withdrew from this week’s event and will have to go for that record sixth in a row elsewhere.

Her absence has somewhat opened up the event but it is still a strong field; now headed by world #3 Celine Boutier. The Frenchwoman is one of six players from inside the top 10, along with #4 Ruoning Yin, #6 Minjee Lee, #7 Jin Young Ko, #8 Charle Hull and #10 Hyo Joo Kim. With a further fourteen of the world’s top 30 in attendance, there is plenty of depth heading to Wilshire.

Brooke Henderson is the only former winner absent; with Minjee Lee joined by last year’s winner and fellow Aussie, Hannah Green; Nasa Hataoka (2022) and Moriya Jutanugarn (2018).

Rose Zhang makes her debut in the event, as does Korean and long-time contender at last week’s Chevron Championship, Jin Hee Im.

Three-time Ladies European Tour winner, Alexandra Forsterling tees it up for just the second time on the LPGA this year. She is part of a strong European contingent that includes last week’s impressive runner-up, Maja Stark.

SELECTIONS

Market leaders: Jin Young Ko 18/1, Sei Young Kim 18/1, Xiyu Lin 18/1, Ayaka Furue 18/1, Minjee Lee 20/1

With Nelly out, this event looks wide open, as shown by just two points between the top 5 in the betting. It’s tough to separate this leading quintet, all have good form here and have largely played well this year, therefore I’m going to leave alone what looks a tricky part of the market and start a little further down.

There’s another strong group of players just behind those at the very top, though due to her usually excellent approach play and consistent ability to perform on poa, one stands out above the rest, in the shape of China’s Ruoning Yin, who goes in as the main selection this week.

2.25 pts Ruoning Yin each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 22/1 

The Chinese star made her LPGA breakthrough just 40 minutes down the road from here at Palos Verdes Golf Club in the Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship last year and has barely looked back since; becoming a major champion with her second win of the year in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol and missed just one cut all year, recording a further seven top-10 finishes.

That great level of consistency has very much been the story of 2024 so far, with Yin yet to miss a cut in eight starts and hitting the top 25 in five of those; which includes an 8th-place finish in defence of her title at Palos Verdes and last week she finished 23rd in our first major of the year.

Her success last year was down to an unmatchable standard of ball-striking, where she especially excelled in approach, ranking 2nd. She matched this with a lengthy and generally accurate driving game, ranking 11th on tour off-the-tee last season and along with possessing a decent touch around-the-greens, she ranked 3rd tee-to-green.

Whilst not quite at her blistering best, rankings of 17th OTT, 22nd in approach and 29th in GIR shows that she’s still hitting the ball well. Indeed, she produced her standout approach display of the year two starts ago, leading the field in the Ford Championship.

The putter can occasionally be a concern but she is amassing a really strong record on poa and it comes as no surprise that her best putting display of the year came at Palos Verdes, where she ranked 11th.

Yin also ranked inside the top 20 on the greens at Wilshire when finishing 33rd on debut in 2022. Though not managing to replicate that level of performance on the greens last year, she considerably improved on that debut effort; finishing 4th thanks to a superb ball-striking display, ranking 1st both OTT and in approach.

Further poa positives can be found from her 3rd-place finishes in the Portland Classic and Kroger Queen City Championship last year, putting well on both occasions and bubbling away nicely so far this year, I’m taking her to finally come to the boil this week at Wilshire CC.

Ruoning Yin 22-1

1.5 pts Hannah Green each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 33/1

Defending champion, Hannah Green disappointingly missed the cut when I put her up in last week’s Chevron Championship. However, having recorded finishes of 3rd, 2nd and 1st here in her last three visits, her record at Wilshire speaks for itself and I reckon this proven poa performer will bounce back this week.

Her performances have been somewhat of a mixed bag this year. She won on her second start of 2024 in the HSBC Women’s World Championship, though despite missing two of her last three cuts, there is another top 25 in between them, when she finished 21st in the Ford Championship two starts ago.

Seen as a big-hitting ball-striking type who has an excellent touch on the greens, the Aussie is living up to her reputation this year, where she seems to have regained a little power that she lost in the previous couple of years and is again hitting her irons well, ranking 26th in GIR and 30th in approach; as well as looking strong on the greens, ranking 22nd. Add this to her top-5 ranking in par 4 scoring and it is easy to see why she performs well here.

After narrowly missing the cut at Wilshire on debut in 2018, she came back to finish 14th the following year before those three excellent top-3 finishes in the last three seasons; a run during which she has fired 11/12 rounds in the 60s at this demanding course.

Green almost always putts well here, ranking top 6 on the greens in each of her last two visits. This poa putting ability is something that she has transferred to the Portland Classic, winning there in 2019 and finishing 3rd last year, whilst she’s also recorded top 5s at Palos Verdes and Lake Merced. She just seems to be at her most comfortable on the West Coast and I’m expecting another bold showing in California this week.

Hannah Green

1 pt Jin Hee Im each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 80/1 

Part of me does think that experience will be important on this quirky little layout. However, after recording her first top 10 of the year in last week’s first major of the year, I felt Korea’s Jin Hee Im looked a big price to follow up on that with another good performance this week; based on her strong performances last year on the conveyor belt of talent that is the KLPGA (Korean LPGA), and possessing a game that, in theory, should be a good fit for Wilshire CC.

Im turned pro in 2016 when just 17-years-old and has progressed to become one of the KLPGA’s best players in recent years. Undoubtedly her best year on her home tour came last year, as she recorded four victories; then finishing out the year in the LPGA Q-Series, where a 17th-place finish earned her this first stab at the premier tour in women’s golf.

After missing the cut on the first start of her rookie season in the LPGA Drive On Championship, she has looked much more at home on subsequent starts; finishing 27th in the Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship, 35th in the Ford Championship and 8th in last week’s Chevron Championship. A performance that looks all the more impressive when taking into account it was her first ever major appearance.

Looking at Jin Hee’s stats from last year on the KLPGA, she excelled most in GIR, putting average and scrambling, ranking 10th, 11th and 12th respectively, whilst she is also a player not short on power, ranking 31st in driving distance. Though the sample size for this season is obviously small just 14 rounds into her LPGA career, her stats read similarly, as she ranks 14th on the greens, 17th in scrambling and just outside the top 50 in GIR and approach.

Those approach numbers can probably be upgraded a little as they are being severely dragged down by her poor approach display in that missed cut in the LPGA Drive On Championship; since going on to produce positive strokes-gained numbers in each of her last three starts. If this is a sign of things to come this clearly very talented individual could look a big price by Sunday evening.

jin hee im 80-1

1 pt Andrea Lee each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 80/1

Despite her strong form this year, Andrea Lee is another player who looks far too big in the betting, no doubt down to her two missed cuts on previous visits to Wilshire. However, both of those efforts came when she was enduring a poor run of form and I see no reason why this strong iron player can’t take to the venue.

Lee found a good level of consistency at the end of 2023, having not recorded a missed cut in any of her final 10 starts of the year. Consistency has been the name of the game in 2024 too, but with much higher finishes.

In eight starts this year, she has recorded six top-25 finishes, three of them top 10s, which came when finishing 5th at Palos Verdes, 7th in the HSBC Women’s World Championship and 9th in the LPGA Drive On Championship. A 17th in the year’s first major is another commendable performance, especially on a lengthy course that wouldn’t be the most ideal fit.

The former world #1 amateur enjoyed the best year of her pro career in 2022, winning the Portland Classic and showcasing an ultra-precise ball-striking game, combined with a solid short game.

She hit the ball well again last year but the short game deserted her, though with her once again looking sharp in this area at the start of 2024 we have seen those much improved results.

As mentioned, Lee has missed the cut on both previous visits here. However, having not recorded a top 30 and just one top 50 in her five starts prior to both of those starts, I’m happy to ignore it.

The L.A native has unsurprisingly shown an ability to perform well on poa, both with her win in Portland and two 5th-place finish at Palos Verdes, and with the strength of her recent form, I’m confident she can go well at Wilshire this week.

Andrea Lee 80-1

0.75 pts Yealimi Noh each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 175/1

Having tipped her one way or another on her last two starts, I’ve been well aware of Yealimi Noh’s improvements and after her excellent 9th-place finish in the Chevron Championship, she looks well worth a chance at the price this week.

I spoke about Noh’s prodigious junior record when putting her up at the Ford Championship two starts ago, when in winning the Girls Junior PGA Championship, US Girls Junior and Canadian Women’s Amateur on consecutive starts, she beat a string of future major champions, such as Lilia Vu and Jennifer Kupcho.

After a strong start to her pro career, where she finished 3rd in the 2021 Evian Championship and earned a captain’s pick to the 2021 Solheim Cup, she suffered a slump in form but things started to look up at the end of last year.

Noh made four of her last six cuts of 2023 and hit the top 10 in the Arkansas Championship over that period – her only top 10 of the year. She has continued in a similar vein this year, making each of her four cuts and recording two top 25s, the best of which came with that impressive top 10 last week.

This big hitter has always looked strongest with driver and indeed she ranks 5th on tour this season OTT. However, even more encouraging is her superb approach performance from last week, where in ranking 2nd and gaining over 8 strokes with the clubs across the week, she produced her best approach display on record.

The putter wouldn’t be Noh’s biggest strength but as another Californian, she often looks more at home on poa, as she showed when finishing 10th here in 2022. She’s also putted well on the poa surfaces in Portland, where she has twice finished inside the top 3, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this seriously talented individual put up another improved result this week.

Yealimi Noh

You can find all Jamie's latest Golf Betting Tips over on our dedicated golf Insights hub.

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