Fred writes the fan diary from the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Fan Dairy – KNC Sunday
CONGRATULATIONS TO STACY LEWIS!!!! First time winner on the LPGA tour, and MAJOR CHAMPION.
Why I love the LPGA! – Great golf, great people, great fans.
The first major of the year came to a close today at the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage with Stacy, her family and caddy making the traditional leap into Poppie’s pond. She is now among the elite, she is a Lady of the Lake!.
Stacy held off the world’s #1 player, Yani Tseng, to notch her first victory in a thrilling battle through the swirling winds of the desert.
As usual, and taking NOTHING away from Stacy’s first victory, she was not the only great story to emerge on Sunday of this wonderful tournament.
As usual, Joni and I arrived early and parked ourselves at the green at #6 to watch the players battle the #1 hole on the course. Throughout the week the enemy had been heat, but by Sunday morning the temperature had dropped into the low 80’s. The enemy today was wind. No. 6 sits in a corner of the golf course where the winds swirl and change direction almost by the minute. More than one player backed off of their approach shot, changed clubs and then did it again. The tees were moved back today making the approach shot about 10-20 yards longer than yesterday. Having played there, I can assure you that coming into the 6th green in a swirling wind with a 5 iron or longer is no picnic.
The pin was in a devilish place, close to the front right bunker and bailing out left would leave the player with a curling putt that broke more than expected by almost everyone.
Just like yesterday with Sophie Gustafson’s skip across the lake fronting the green, we saw some fun shots today. Becky Morgan had trouble off the tee, hit her third into the greenside bunker leaving her about 15’ of green to work with and promptly holed the bunker shot for a par.
Juli Inkster made a 25’ putt up the hill and around the corner for one of the few birdies of the day. I am sure her daughter, Haley, is going to pick on her about the sort of dance-leap that resulted from holing that extremely difficult putt.
Throughout the day, player after player under read the break from directly above and below the hole, and over read it when faced with the side hill putt. Even Yani, who is a superb putter and had it going all week, missed on the low side from about four feet after a beautiful approach shot.
No. 6 is the most difficult hole on the golf course, and with the tees back, it becomes even more so. Tragedy struck Morgan Pressel (one of our favorite players) on 6. Her tee shot caught the rough, and being only two strokes behind the leaders at that point, she went for the green from a dodgy lie. Just as she hit her shot, the swirling winds changed direction and her ball found the water. Hitting her fourth across the lake, she missed the green by about 5 feet and found herself in a very fluffy lie, facing a downhill flop shot to the tight pin. This was the toughest chip/pitch we saw all day, and she caught just a bit too much ball, leaving herself a tough two putt for a triple bogey seven. Typical of Morgan, however, she promptly birdied two out of the next three to give herself a chance again.
I want to give a shout out to our friend Katie Futcher who finished in a tie for third in the most prestigious tournament on the LPGA tour. Katie is playing very well this year, and we are looking for a banner year from her.
We had a great time at the tournament, as usual, and came home tired but happy to have once more witnessed incredible golf played by marvelous and wonderful ladies.
We will see you on the course somewhere down the road.
Thanks to the LPGA for a GREAT Tournament. Congratulations to Stacy Lewis for a hard fought and well deserved first victory.
Fairways and Greens,
Here we are in the desert today. Joni and I came out from Corona this morning, and will be staying overnight in town. As usual we got to the course early this morning, and said “go get’em” to Paula Creamer as she walked to the first tee. We had seen the comments on TV the last couple of days about how fast the fairways and greens are this week, but you have to actually see it to understand. The greens are running about 13 on the stimp meter, and the fairways have to be running at least 9. Hard and fast. Couple this with the narrow landing areas at the Dinah Shore course at Mission Hills, and you have for some very interesting golf.
As usual we parked under the trees at the 6th hole to watch the best in the world tackle the toughest hole on the course. There is significant water trouble off the tee, as well as the lake directly in front of the green. The fairway is so firm and fast that several of the ladies hit “perfect” tee shots only to have them run out into the water. The pin placement itself was brutal, and being above the hole almost guaranteed a three putt. The one exception was Amanda Blumenherst who dropped a birdie bomb of about 15 feet from above the hole. It was the only putt made outside of 2 feet from above the hole all day. VICIOUS to say the least. It made for some interesting and fun viewing.
There were several stunning birdies today, so rare as to make it memorable. Juli Inkster, one of our favorites, and her fellow competitor Karine Icher were the only duo to both birdie the hole. Lots of roars and appreciation from the crowd.
We sat all day and watched the green take no prisoners. I am sure that if we had been able to stand on the 6th tee and look at the ladies and say “You can write down a 4 and go on” everyone would have marched directly to the 7th tee without hesitation.
The two shots of the day belong to Anna Nordqvist who hit her drive into the water (lots of people had the same issue) and then hit a shot to about two feet and drained the putt to save par. The other fun shot was from Sophie Gustafson who had to hit a third shot from about 200 yards after a ruling, smothered it a bit, and skipped it across the lake into the greenside bunker. She got up and down for a solid 5. The crowd went crazy when the ball skipped forward across the water. As she left the green Joni said, “Thanks for the entertainment” to which Sophie replied “It’s what I do.”
After everyone had come through, including our friend Katie Futcher, we walked over to the ninth green. The last couple of groups were coming through. Brittany Lincicome had some tree trouble off the tee and made a double, but Stacy Lewis played a brilliant gutsy shot over the bunker into a tight pin and made birdie.
When we were headed back to the hotel for the evening, we made the acquaintance of an LPGA pro from Sycuan resort who helps folks with disabilities, which is what our foundation does (www.disabilitygolfer.com) and this is a great connection for us. One of the things that we love about the LPGA is that the organization supports outreach efforts to folks with disabilities.
We will be back out tomorrow and report back tomorrow night.
Fairways and Greens,