The $1.7 million Kia Classic women’s golf tournament began Thursday in Carlsbad with three players boasting San Diego County ties.

They are Rancho Santa Fe resident I.K. Kim, who lost in to a two-hole sudden-death playoff to Beatriz Recari in last year’s tournament; Tiffany Joh, an alumna of Rancho Bernardo High School; and Carlsbad resident Jennifer Johnson.

I.K. Kim of Rancho Santa Fe is among the locals entered in Kia Classic. Photo courtesy of

Several players say the course at the Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club is in better shape than the past.

“The fairways are not rolling out so much, the greens are not rolling out so much,” Stacy Lewis said.

“There’s good and bad to that. You’re going to have longer shots into the green, but at the same time, they’re going to be a little more consistent as far as the bounces and if you hit it in a certain spot, you know it’s going to stop.”

The tournament could lead to a change atop the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. If Suzann Pettersen, who is ranked second, would become the No. 1- ranked player if she wins, and Inbee Park, the No. 1-ranked player for 50 consecutive weeks, finishes in a tie for second with four or more players or has a worse finish than Pettersen.

Fans attending the tournament today are asked to wear pink in support of LPGA player Lisa Ferrero, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in January.

Friday is Military Appreciation Day, which will include a color guard presentation with local military representatives.

Saturday is Family Day with activities including a scavenger hunt, autograph sessions and a junior clinic featuring LPGA players. Registration is required for the clinic and can be made on the tournament’s website,

Active military members with valid identification and their families will receive free admission throughout the tournament. Children 17 and under accompanied by adults will also receive free admission.

The field of 144 players includes 49 of the top 50 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.

The Kia Classic is the final tournament to decide the field for the inaugural International Crown, a global match play competition featuring teams from eight nations, that will be played July 24-27 at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md.

The tournament concludes Sunday. The winner will receive $255,000 and a 2015 Kia K900, the automaker’s first luxury sedan.

— City News Service

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