Fred checks in all weekend from the Samsung World Championship.
Fan Blog Samsung World Championships Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009
What a great day, what a great finish to the tournament, and what marvelous weather. We were graced with all three on Sunday of the Samsung World Championship. The top 20 ladies of the LPGA teed it up in La Jolla this week for a nice purse, as well as bragging rights for the year. Torrey Pines offered a great venue to show off their golf, and for the fans as well. The Southern California weather could not have been better on Sunday, with a slight breeze and plenty of sunshine.
The golf was amazing, as usual. We have come to expect fireworks and great shots from the LPGA players, and they did not disappoint. Na Yeon Choi, from South Korea held a seven shot lead after eight holes today, lost the lead by the time she had reached 16 and then birdied the last hole to win the tournament. She is a charming young lady who notched her first win on the LPGA tour today. She is the first woman to make this tournament her first career win on tour. This is quite an accomplishment when you realize that she had to be the best of the best to take home the trophy. By her own admission, she was quite nervous coming down the stretch, and we witnessed several wayward shots in the middle of her round. Choi had posted a 63 on Saturday to take the lead from Jiyai Shin and Ai Miyazato who finished second. The finish was made all the more thrilling because the course set-up was such that most of the ladies could reach the par 5 18th green in two. The lake in front of the green gobbled up a few balls, including Lorena's, which landed on the green and spun back into the water. Coming to the last needing a birdie, Choi steadied herself and drained a 6' putt for the win.
As I have said before, one of the great things about attending the LPGA tournaments is the laid back atmosphere, as well as the great people that you meet. Joni and I typically sit at one hole while the entire field comes through, then move to another and do the same. That way you get to see everyone play the hole, looking at different strategies and different results. It also means that you could help the ladies read those 5' putts if only they would let you (grin). Like yesterday, Joni and I stationed ourselves at #3 to watch everyone come through. The pin was in a horrendously difficult spot on top of the small plateau short and left behind a bunker. Everyone was taking dead aim at the pin because there was really nothing to lose. One of the great things about this tournament is that you don't see players playing safe very often, except under extreme circumstances. There is a lot of "go for broke" in their shots throughout the four days. It makes for great viewing.
The highlight on #3 today was the pairing of Juli Inkster and Catriona Mathew. Catriona put her tee shot about four feet from the hole. Not to be outdone, Juli put hers inside Catriona's. They got the best ovation of the day upon arriving at the green. Both made their birdie putts. While neither played well enough to be a serious threat after Saturday, it was great to see these two moms playing such stellar shots and having fun doing it.
Some of the people you meet just make your day. Before the start of the round, I was in a conversation with Lindsay Wright from Australia, and her host mom. Before Lindsay teed off on #1, Joni and I had made our way to the #3 green. There we met up with Lindsay's host mom again. I am a disabled vet and don't venture into crowds or across uneven ground without wearing a set of hi-tech knee braces. I also am the president and CEO of The Disabled Golfer's Learning Foundation, Inc. This is neither here nor there except that I had given Lindsay's host mom one of my business cards. As the girls were walking to the green, Lindsay's host mom asked, "What's your handicap?" I held up four fingers. She looked terrifically puzzled and repeated the question. At that point I realized that she was asking what my disability entailed. All of us were cracking up, trying hard not to be heard by the ladies on the green. One of the truly funny, off the wall moments that just make your day.
We met several other very nice people sitting at #3, and also when we moved to #11. I know there are a lot of fans who like to watch the ladies hit tee shots, but in my opinion, unless the second shot is particularly challenging, such as the shot at #6 at the Mission Hills Championship Course where they play the Kraft Nabisco Championship each year, I think you get to see more about the players and how they handle situations by sitting by the green on a par 3. From a teaching viewpoint as well as a fan viewpoint, I think the par 3's make for better theater.
We arrived home safely later in the afternoon, having had a complete blast for the two days that we were able to be there.
Next weekend, the ladies are in Danville, CA, and we are wishing we could be there with them. They won't be back in the area again until next spring, so we will have to say goodbye for now.
Fan Blog Samsung World Championships Saturday 9/19/09
What a day!! The Samsung World Championship hosts the top-20 women in professional golf for a 72-hole stroke play tournament. It is always a thrill to watch the ladies play, and having the best of the best tee it up at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, CA makes it even better.
I won't bore you with the details of who shot what score, you can look that up on the website. What I want to share with you is why Joni and I are fans of the LPGA. Simply put, the quality of golf which is superb is only exceeded by the quality of the ladies who play this marvelous game.
Here is what we experienced today.
We arrived in time to see the first group off the first tee. Angela Stanford, a stalwart on the U.S. Solheim Cup team and Eun-Hee Ji who won the U.S. Women's Open this year, were the trailers at the end of day two. Angela, as we all know, has had a bit of an up and down year due to a lot of personal issues off the course as her mother battles breast cancer. We wish her Mom all the best. But the marvelous part of this is that Angela has never let her joy of the game or her love of the fans lapse through this entire ordeal. We followed the two ladies all the way to the 3rd hole, which is a tricky little downhill par 3. Angela hit a good tee shot, and birdied the hole. As she left the hole, moving to the fourth tee, Joni and I were sitting right where the players were going to walk through. Joni looked at Angela and said, with a big grin, “Good birdie, it's about time” Angela gave her a big grin and a high 5 and said “Yeah, you're darn right.” That is what we love about the LPGA. These ladies have never forgotten that they are playing a game for a living and that the fans are important.
When Jiyai Shin, who was leading the tournament came to the third hole, she had left her tee shot short, and putting from the Kaikua fringe had rolled her first putt about 12-feet past the hole. She made the comeback putt to save par, and took a huge deep breath. As she walked by us, Joni said to her “Don't do that, you're scaring me.” Jiyai grinned at her and said “Me, too.”
There were several other delightful interactions with us and others in the gallery throughout the day.
The other thing that is really neat about attending LPGA events is the people that you meet. When we were sitting at 15 as the ladies came through, we met and chatted with the lady who is Lorena's host family when Lorena plays at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. We all know Lorena as the #1 player on Tour, as well as a fine ambassador for the game. The few times that Joni and I have been able to interact with her have all been great. What her host Mom said was that Lorena is even nicer than she appears during tournaments. She is apparently very funny, as well as very caring. She personally supports three schools in Mexico, as well as other charitable work. There are others who do as much, Cristie Kerr with Birdies for Breast Cancer and Morgan Pressel with her charity to support breast cancer research, but it is always marvelous and uplifting to find out that someone is as nice as they appear to be to the general public. Being genuine amidst all the pressure and press that she receives says great things about Lorena.
Speaking of Lorena, who is not in the lead at the end of today, this message goes out to anyone who thinks these ladies cannot play great golf.
On 15 today, she flew the green with her second, had to take a drop off a service road, and played one of the finest up and downs to save par that I have witnessed in over 50 years of playing the game. She bumped a shot into the back of very steep down slope past the green, which then popped onto the green and left her about 6 feet from the hole. She drained the putt to tumultuous applause. A great par save by a great lady.
This ends tonight's fan blog. We are looking forward to incredible golf tomorrow. There are five or six players with a legitimate chance to win the tournament, and all of the top-20 in the world should be holding their heads high after a great day on the links.
Samsung World Championship - Friday Sept. 18th
We haven't even arrived at the course yet because of my work. We will be there tomorrow, but the atmosphere in our house, surrounding this tournament, is electric already. The twenty best lady golfers in the world are battling on one of the most storied courses in the United States.
Already the drama is unfolding, as well it should. Juli Inkster, who is truly the First Lady of the LPGA, battling the kids, was two strokes off the lead starting today. Cristie Kerr, who battled her way back from a rotten start on Thursday to finish the day at even par has now birdied four of the first six holes on her round today. Jiyai Shin, the silent assassin, passed Cristie last week for Player of the Year and the lead on the money list. She is currently leading the charge at Torrey Pines, but, as Cristie said in her retirement interview, "I don't like to be passed". The gloves are off and the ladies are going after one of the most coveted prizes in women's golf, the Samsung World Championship.
Paula Creamer, one of the great US stars, coming off her marvelous performance at the Solheim Cup is the defending champion. Paula has had a rough year health-wise but is hanging in there and scrapping for all she is worth. She has never successfully defended a title in any of her wins on tour, so she is trying extra hard this week to accomplish that very difficult feat.
Song-Hee Kim is also playing extremely well at the start of the week. I had the honor of partnering with her in the Pro-Am at the Kraft Nabisco Championships this last April. She is not only a deadly putter, but a very charming and funny young lady. She comes across as very shy on the course, but watch out for her. She can read greens and roll the rock with the best of them.
We are having a hard time waiting until tomorrow to see the ladies in person. But I guess we will have to (grin).
Topics: Fan Blog