Whistling to Ko's Tune at Whistle Bear

The ladies head north this week to Canada for the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic from the Whistle Bear GC in Ontario. This is the first time the Whistle Bear GC will host after the first three years of the event have been held at the Grey Silo GC where Inbee Park won last year. Back to the normal 72 holes and so starts on Thursday the 4th June and on the east coast time zone it will start at just after midday UK time.

The Course & Past Winners

The Whistle Bear GC is just 20 minutes drive south from last year's host, near the town of Cambridge. It is an open links style course with plenty on bunkers, a 103 in total, and for the ladies will play as 6,613 yards and a par 72. Eight lakes affecting 10 holes also add to the difficulty of the course, although fairways are noted as generous on the club's website.
The past winners of the event at Grey Silo have been:
Year Player Course Score Players Under Par Winning Margin
Inbee Park
Grey Silo GC
Hee Young Park
Grey Silo GC
Brittany Lang
Grey Silo GC
Obviously course form won't be particularly relevant as based at the nearby course Grey Silo GC, although that was also quite an open course in places, and going back to the same event may encourage some of the ladies to go well again.

The Contenders

As ever on this tour the betting is dominated by the big 3 and so the starting point has to be the defending champion Inbee Park who also lost a playoff in this event in 2012 and was 14th in 2013, so definitely seems to like this part of the world. Continued her good run of form this season with 5th last week in the Shoprite LPGA Classic, had been 16th at the Kingsmill Championship before that and won the North Texas Shootout. That was her second win of the year and has been no worse than 18th so far.
Back in action this week is Lydia Ko who missed last week's event. She tied Park at the Kingsmill Championship in 16th, but had her worst two performances before that with 41st in North Texas and 51st at the ANA Inspiration. Although picked up her second win of the season in between those two results at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. Likes Canada as she picked up her first tour win in the Canadian Open as a 15 year old amateur in 2012, and defending the title the following year, whilst she was 4th on debut in this event last year.
The third of the triumvirate at the top of the betting is Stacy Lewis who is the only player in the field to have had top ten's in all three years of this event with 5th in 2012 and 6th for the last two years. I ignored her last week as her form had dropped off at the previous event with 25th at the Kingsmill Championship, and that was justified as she finished 52nd. Had been going ok before that with the rest of her finishes this year in the top 15.
Looking elsewhere and going well for the third time this season was Morgan Pressel who picked up her third top 3 finish of the year having been 3rd at the ANA Inspiration, 2nd at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic and a poor final round saw her drop to 3rd again last week. 18th in between those first two results and 13th & 36th in between the other two finishes. Not a great record in this event with 59th, 26th, & 45th.
Taking advantage of Pressel's drop last week was Anna Nordqvist who finally won at the Shoprite Classic, much to my happiness as I backed her. That continued her improving run of form with 38th in North Texas and 11th at the Kingsmill Championship, and her 4th top 10 of the year. A couple of top ten's here with 7th in 2012 & 10th last year and 26th in between.
With the course having quite generous fairways that may help the big hitters and so leading the driving distance on tour is Britanny Lincicome. Although her form has dropped off after her win at the ANA Inspiration which she followed with 18th at the LOTTE Championship, 33rd at the Swinging Skirts, 72nd at the Kingsmill and a missed cut last week. Makes her Manulife debut.
Being in Canada I can't not mention the Henderson's. Former number 1 amateur in the world Brooke has been playing in recent weeks and the 17 year old has been 3rd at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, 13th in North Texas, 25th at the Kingsmill and 23rd last week. Older sister Brittany has been playing on the Symetra Tour where she has a best of 2nd in March, she tied for 2nd with her sister, and currently sits 18th on the money list, but has missed the last two cuts. Both are from Ontario as well, but 250 miles up the road in Smith Falls.

My Selection

There is an intriguing battle between Ko & Park for the World No 1 spot as a side issue this week and also Park has been more consistent this year with no worse than 18th, whilst Ko has had some poor results but has bounced straight back from them with a win. Those poorer results mean Park edges ahead as the favourite and so for me at 8-1 (Coral) Lydia Ko is the better value, and also the longer of the two off the tee which may help here.