July 30, 2020 / 7:57 PM / 8 days ago

PREVIEW-Golf-LPGA marks return from 166-day COVID-19 break in Ohio

July 29 (Reuters) - The LPGA swings back into action on Friday with the inaugural Drive On Championship in Toledo, Ohio, where world number two Nelly Korda headlines the field as the women’s circuit returns from a 166-day hiatus due to COVID-19.

The 54-hole tournament at Inverness Club, which is also the site of next year’s Solheim Cup, is the first of two consecutive spectator-free LPGA events in Ohio with next week’s Marathon Classic in nearby Sylvania.

Korda, who is among a field that includes fellow top-10 players Danielle Kang, Lexi Thompson and Australian Minjee Lee, said the break in action allowed her time to reset after a rough start to the year.

“My first three events I was kind of dealing with club changes, not sure what I wanted to put in the bag. I completely changed my clubs again since then, so I was really kind of tweaking with everything,” said Korda.

“At the end of the day it was kind of a short off season. I never really got to relax. I maybe took a week-and-a-half off where I completely got to relax, so it was actually really nice to give my mind a reset.”

World number one Ko Jin-young and Park Sung-hyun (3) are among a number of top international players who have decided to sit out the LPGA restart because of COVID-19 concerns and are instead sheltering at home while playing the Korean LPGA Tour.

Those competing at Inverness will get a rare early glimpse of a layout that next year will host the Solheim Cup, where the top players from the United States face those of Europe.

“It’s different to be able to have a sneak peek into a golf course that we’ll be playing that big of an event on,” said world number nine Thompson.

“It gives us some insight of how it might be set up or things to look for.”

Mexico’s Gaby Lopez, who picked up her second win on the LPGA earlier this year, withdrew from the tournament after testing positive for COVID-19 on Monday. (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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