The Cognizant Founders Cup
The Ladies are returning to northern New Jersey in May! Once the LPGA Tour rounds out a swing to the west coast for the JM Eagle Championship in Los Angeles (April 27-30 at Wilshire Country Club) and the Hanwha Crown International team competition in San Francisco (May 4-7 at Harding Park), the Tour heads east, returning to northern New Jersey for the 2023 Cognizant Founders Cup which will be held at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, from Thursday, May 11 through Sunday May 14.
Minjee Lee, currently ranked No. 6 in the world, held off Lexi Thomson (No. 7), to claim the championship in 2022, and she will be coming back this year to defend her title. Her outstanding play at the ’22 Founders Cup carried through to her second major championship at the 2022 Women’s U.S. Open and then a runner-up at the Women’s PGA.
Jin Young Ko, the 2019 and 2021 Champion, will be looking for her third Founders Cup title—and her game has been extremely sharp thus far in 2023. In the five tournaments she has played this year, Jin Young has recorded four Top 10’s including a win at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March.
The Founders Cup field will include all top ten in the Women’s World Golf Rankings, including Nelly Korda (No. 1 in the World), Lydia Ko (No. 2),Jin Young Ko (No. 3), Lilia Vu (No. 4) and Atthaya Thitikul (No. 5).
Fan favorite and 2022 runner-up Lexi Thompson (No. 7 in the world) will once again be in the field, as well as past Founders Cup champions Stacy Lewis (2013), Kim Sei Young (2016) and Anna Nordqvist (2017). You will also see 5-time major champion and member of the LPGA Hall of Fame, Laura Davies.
With a field comprised of the most talented lady golfers in the world, this year’s event promises superb golf and the perfect setting to enjoy it.
The LPGA Founders Cup was established in 2011 to celebrate the history of ladies’ professional golf and the thirteen trail blazing women who founded the Tour in 1950. The inaugural event was the Tampa Women’s Open held at Palma Ceia Country Club in Tampa, FL, won by Polly Riley, a distinguished amateur player who won more than 100 tournaments in her career. Babe Zaharias, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and among the greatest athletes in the history of sport, won 8 of the 15 events that were held that first year (including all three major championships). Patty Berg would go on to record 60 wins and 15 major championships, while Louise Suggs won 61 times with 11 major championships.
In the 60’s and 70’s, renowned players including Mickey Wright (82 wins/13 Majors), Kathy Whitworth (88 wins/6 majors) and Betsy Rawls (55 wins/8 majors) continued to pave the way for the current LPGA stars. With grace, charm, and a beautiful swing, Nancy Lopez (48 wins/3 majors) carried the torch through the 80’s until Annika burst on the scene (72 wins/10 majors), raising the bar yet again while setting the stage for the magnificent players we see today.
Past Founders Cup champions include Karrie Webb (a two-time winner), Stacy Lewis, Anna Nordqvist and Inbee Park.
Upper Montclair Country Club
Founded in 1901 and located in Clifton, NJ, UMCC has hosted tournaments for the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, and The Champions Tour. The course was originally designed by A. W. Tillinghast, with major re-design and renovations by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. in the 1950’s.
The PGA Tour came to Upper Montclair in the 60’s with The Thunderbird Classic, followed by the Dow Jones Classic in 1970—with Arnold Palmer and Gene Littler included among the champions.
In the late 70’s and 80‘s, Upper Montclair hosted the LPGA Coca-Cola and Chrysler Plymouth Classics, with legendary names like Nancy Lopez and Pat Bradley etched on the championship trophies. From 1993 through 2002, UMCC hosted the Champions Tour with the Cadillac NFL Classic, and winners include Hall-of Famers Lee Trevino (twice) and Raymond Floyd.
The LPGA came back to Upper Montclair from 2007-2009 with the Sybase Classic, won twice by one of the most talented and popular players in LPGA Tour history—Lorena Ochoa.
Upper Montclair Country Club offers 3 nine-hole courses (West, East and South), and the Founders Cup will be played on the West and South courses. From the Championship tees, the course rating is 73.5 with a Slope of 140.
What to Expect
In addition to great golf, the ladies on the LPGA Tour go out of their way to make you feel welcome. There are times at PGA Tour and Champions Tour events when it can feel as though you are intruding, an irritating distraction. No so at an LPGA Tour event, where you’ll find a warmth and friendliness that can feel more like a family outing than a golf tournament. And when you watch the ladies produce masterful shots with more than just brute power, your game will benefit greatly as well.
Getting There (177 Hepburn Road, Clifton NJ 07012)
Located 13 miles west of midtown Manhattan, Upper Montclair Country Club is one of the most accessible courses in the New York Metro area. If you are traveling from south/central NJ, Westchester/southern Connecticut, or central Long Island, UMCC is within an hour’s drive.