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Hinako Shibuno headlins Ladies Scottish field; Koreans still notably absent

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While the top South Koreans will be notably absent from the first three LPGA events to be staged in the tour’s restart over the next month, the game’s newest international star will be making a return to the tour.

Japan’s Hinako Shibuno will play the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open on a special invite Aug. 13-16, the tournament announced Tuesday.

Shibuno broke through in spectacular fashion to win the AIG Women’s British Open last year. She will defend her title the week after the Ladies Scottish Open, with Royal Troon hosting this year’s Women’s British Open.

Shibuno won the affection of fans around the world winning at Woburn in England last year while showing why she’s nicknamed “The Smiling Princess.” She connected with spectators in special ways but won’t have the same chance this year, with the Ladies Scottish and Women’s British Open events to be played without fans.

Shibuno passed on an option to join the LPGA as a member this year.

Women's British, Ladies Scottish to be played

The AIG Women’s British Open and ASI Ladies Scottish Open both announced Tuesday that they are on track to stage their events next month.

“Last year’s experience at Woburn truly felt like I was part of a fairy tale and now I am really looking forward to my next adventures in Scotland,” Shibuno said in a statement.

Scotland’s Catriona Matthew, who led the Europeans to a thrilling victory in her homeland at last year’s Solheim Cup, will also play the Ladies Scottish on a special invite at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick. Sixteen players from that Solheim Cup are scheduled to compete at the Ladies Scottish. Matthew is the ’09 Women’s British Open champion and will lead the Europeans in the Solheim Cup again next year. She’s a two-time Ladies Scottish Open winner.

The top eight South Koreans in the world rankings aren’t scheduled to play at the Drive On Championship next week or the Marathon Classic the week after, with the LPGA making its restart in back-to-back weeks in the Toledo, Ohio, area. In fact, with so many Koreans riding out the coronavirus pandemic in their homeland, where the KLPGA has been up and running since mid-May, Sei Young Kim won’t be defending her title at the Marathon Classic.

South Korea’s Jin Young Ko, the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, has yet to tee it up this year in an LPGA event.

The top eight South Koreans also aren’t scheduled to play in the Ladies Scottish Open.

The Women’s British Open final field has yet to be released, but Brooke Henderson’s team confirmed that she will be making her restart there.

The Ladies Scottish Open will feature three of the top 10 players in the world, with No. 4 Nasa Hataoka, No. 5 Danielle Kang and No. 8 Minjee Lee in the field. Former world No. 1s Lydia Ko, Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis and Cristie Kerr are committed to play, as are major champions Laura Davies, Georgia Hall, Hannah Green, In-Kyung Kim, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel and Pernilla Lindberg.