GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The new course layout at Blythefield Country Club for the Meijer LPGA Classic was creeping into the players thoughts even before they arrived here this week.
"My caddie Benji was trying to tell me, I think, on number 12 last week in the middle of the round," 2015 Meijer LPGA Classic champion Lexi Thompson said. "He's like. 'Oh yeah, you know about the reroute: This hole is that hole,' and then he got really into it, and I'm like, 'Oh no no no, you're confusing me now, I am going to start thinking about it, please stop.'"
With the overwhelming success of the Grand Taste Garden in recent years, the move to make the tournament finish in that area of the golf course just made sense.
"We wanted to move the holes because we felt that ending the tournament with a par 5 finish was going to be great," Meijer LPGA Classic executive director Cathy Cooper said. "It is also a great place because that is where all the action is down near Grand Taste Garden. It is also an easy entrance and exit right to 18, so it all came together, and we think it's going to be an amazing finish."
"I always thought this Grand Taste and everything was so awesome," defending champion So Yeon Ryu said. "Then I was sort of disappointed when we get to number 18. We are sort of losing that feeling because we are kind of like apart from the where all the Grand Taste is."
Formerly the 16th hole, now the 18th hole is a 479-yard par 5 with a slight dogleg to the right. It is reachable in two for many of the players in the field, making winning within shouting distance late in the final round.
"Other players, if one stroke behind the leader, they can try for eagle or birdie," world No. 1 Jin Young Ko said. "It is really exciting ... Nobody knows about the future, so that is fun, I think."
You need to look no further than last week when Lexi Thompson won the ShopRite Classic with an eagle 3 on her final hole of the tournament. She would not mind a repeat performance this week.
"It is a challenging par 5 because you do have to carve it up the right side," Thompson added. "I could go through (the fairway) if you go straight out, so it is kind of a little bit of a risk-reward. But people want to see birdies and eagles, so I think definitely finishing on that hole, you will see that."
The first round gets going at 7:15 a.m. Thursday morning, weather permitting.