If you are looking for a "peek under the tent" to learn a little bit more about the LPGA Tour and its players, The LPGA Insider is for you. Every couple of weeks we will post some of the latest news and Tour tidbits to hit the airwaves. This column is exclusive to LPGA.com so remember, you have to be here to read it here (does that make sense?)! Whatever. You catch my drift. So, without further delay, let's get to it!
Friday, January 23
Itanhanga Golf Club is alive with excitement today as workers put the finishing touches on the event. The shotgun pro-am teed off at 1 p.m. local time and will be followed by an awards dinner. The Insider’s services were not needed as more than enough amateurs signed up to play. Maybe next time! There is still a threat of rain, but tournament staff did an outstanding job removing excess water from the course, so things appear to be on track for tomorrow’s first round.
Last night, a pro-am pairings dinner was held at Gavea Golf Club – Candy Hannemann’s home course – where amateurs were able to meet the players they will tee it up with today. Like Itanhanga, the club is located in Zona Sul (the Southern Zone) of Rio. The area and club are named Gavea, which means topsail in Portuguese, because of a high peak in the area that resembles the topsail of a sailing ship.
Stay tuned this weekend for live scoring and Insider updates on LPGA.com!
Thursday, January 22
In the past 24 hours, Mother Nature has dumped 6.5 inches of rain on Itanhanga Golf Club, rendering some parts of the course unplayable during today’s practice rounds. With two days remaining before the first round of the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup 2009, officials expect the course to dry out and be ready to host this inaugural golf exhibition.
In the midst of yesterday’s storm, five players braved the elements to host an informal golf clinic at Banana Golf, the only public driving range and course in Rio de Janeiro. In addition to providing a spot for cariocas (residents of Rio de Janeiro) to play, Banana Golf also provides a place for needy youngsters in the area to practice golf. Plans to play several holes with the kids on the par-3 course were scrapped due to the weather, but the players made the best of the situation by hosting an impromptu clinic under the covered driving range. After watching many of the kids swing, I was convinced that pretty much all of them would beat me!!
A sightseeing trip to Sugarloaf Mountain and the Cristo Redentor statue was cancelled last night due to the weather, but the tournament organized a dinner for players, caddies and staff to fill the void at, you guessed it, another Brazilian Barbecue!! At the restaurant they handed out diagram's to show what part of the animal you were eating, as well as place cards that were green (more food, please) on one side and red (I'm done!) on the other.
Today the tournament hosted a kickoff press conference featuring the three Brazilian players in the field – Angela Park, Candy Hannemann and amateur Patty Carvalho – along with the Itanhanga club president and representatives from HSBC, Brasil 1 and the LPGA. The press conference was well-attended by national media in Brazil which is a good sign for the stability of this tournament. Golf is just beginning to gain popularity in a country where soccer and volleyball rule. Speaking of volleyball, a popular game in Brazil is called footvolley (Futevôlei in Portuguese) and combines aspects of soccer and volleyball. The game was invented in Brazil in the 1960’s and has grown in popularity ever since. We got to watch a game upclose on Barra Beach and let’s just say it’s not within my realm of coordination.
Tonight the player's meet their pro-am partners at a neighboring country club. I'll report back tomorrow!
Wednesday, January 21
Because the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup 2009 is only a two-day event, the usual Monday and Tuesday preparations are taking place today and Thursday. Caddies are out surveying the course while players continue to trickle in from around the world. Officials are marking hazards and the media center is in the final stages of construction. From the sound of it, most everyone who has arrived early in the week has found some time to check out Barra de Tijuca Beach, which is directly across the street from our hotel. Barra, which at 18 kilometers is the longest beach in Rio, is just a few miles down the road from the more famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. Tuesday was a public holiday in Rio de Janeiro called Saint Sebastian Day and the majority of the city’s residents had a long weekend meaning the beach was very crowded. Sebastian is the patron saint of Rio and January 20th is considered the anniversary of the city. In the midst of Saint Sebastian Day, Brazilians also took time to witness the inauguration of President Obama. The restaurant at Itanhanga Golf Club was crowded with players, staff and club members around 3 p.m. (Brazil is three hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time) to watch the event. Brazilian news programs also rehashed the event all day long, in Portuguese of course. Portuguese is the national language since it was Portugal that colonized the country while Spain took over the rest of Latin America. Rio was first visited by Portuguese explorers in January of 1502, thus getting its name Rio de Janeiro, which means January River.
When traveling abroad, you have to sample the local cuisine. Last night, we had the opportunity to eat at an authentic Brazilian barbecue called Tourão, which literally means “the big bull.” Waiters bring skewers of meat to your table and cut it fresh right onto your plate. It was essentially an all-you-can-eat experience for only 24 reais (1 real = 0.424 USD) or just a little over $10.
There are several special events taking place today. To find out about Banana Golf and Sugarloaf Mountain, tune into Thursday’s edition of the Insider. Until then, até logo!
Tuesday, January 20
Bom dia e Feliz Ano Novo de Brazil! The Insider is getting things started south of the equator this season at the inaugural HSBC LPGA Brasil 2009 in Rio de Janeiro. Itanhanga Golf Club, located just a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean, is playing host to this week’s 15-player event. A few players and staff arrived on Monday morning and were treated to an Elton John concert at Rio’s Apotheosis Square. What a way to start the year! On the ride from the airport, we got our first glimpse of the iconic Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue perched high above the city. We also passed by the Maracana Soccer Stadium – the largest stadium in the world – as well as the beaches at Ipanema and Copacabana. Everything is beautiful here… the golf course, the scenery and especially the people! As players continue to arrive we will have more updates and photos!
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Topics: The LPGA Insider