DALY CITY -- Inbee Park, the world's No. 1 ranked women's golfer, has been staking out the narrow fairways at Lake Merced Golf Club and soaking up life as a tourist in nearby San Francisco.
Park of South Korea is among the favorites for the $1.8 million Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, which will begin Thursday and feature a strong field that includes 18 of the top 19 in the rankings. The event marks the first LPGA tourney in the Bay Area since 2010.
A lover of seafood, Park enjoyed clam chowder and Dungeness Crab on Fisherman's Wharf.
"Everything was new for me this week, the golf course, the city, and everything. .... Really, really cool city. Really enjoying myself here," Park said.
Among the other headliners for the tournament are Michelle Wie of Stanford, coming off her first win on United States' soil in her native Hawaii; and Paula Creamer, a Pleasanton native ranked ninth in the world.
In addition to its cultural diversity, the Swinging Skirts event, partnered with the Taiwan-based Swinging Skirts Golf Team, will offer a stern test for the field of 144. Lake Merced has thick rough, fast greens and varying weather. Tuesday's practice rounds were played in cool, windy conditions.
Park, 25, has been the world's No. 1 ranked player for 54 consecutive weeks, but is seeking her first win this season.
"I don't have a win yet, but I pretty much did everything but win," Park said. "I finished second, third, fourth, fifth, everything else, this year. Just feels like it's coming pretty soon."
She's admittedly having trouble getting up in the morning as she adjusts to the three-hour time change from Hawaii to the Bay Area.
"Obviously, the course is in great shape," she said. "We played low rough last week. This is big rough and, obviousl,y a lot of up-and-down holes and blind tee shots and dog-leg holes. It's going to be a very big test of golf. It feels like a major setup."
World No. 2 Suzann Pettersen of Norway, who is returning a back injury, echoes Park's sentiments about Lake Merced.
"It's a traditional tree-lined course," Pettersen said. "Wasn't expectng it to be this windy. It's narrow; the rough is up. If you miss the fairways, you're going to have a hard time holding the balls on the green.. ... I'm prepared. I have layers for every condition that could possibly face us."
The Swinging Skirts will also boast top-ranked American Stacy Lewis, 16-year-old sensation Lydia Ko, Karrie Webb, So Yeon Ryu, Chinese No. 1 Shanshan Feng, Anna Nordqvist, Cristie Kerr, Na Yeon Choi, Catriona Matthew, Lizette Salas and Amy Yang.
Among the18 major winners competing is Juli Inkster of Los Altos, playing in her final full season on tour, who has seven major titles,
Other locals in the field are Sacramento native Natalie Gulbis and San Jose native Christina Kim.
"We were just brainstorming ideas how to make a fun event for everyone, players as well," she said. "It turned out awesome. I got there, the room was packed. There was a lot of energy."
She almost won that tournament, too, losing to Daniel Dae Kim in the final match.
"He was awesome as well," she said. "We haven't got to the final number yet, but feels like we raised some money. Really excited about that."