Hjorth's Alabama Family
Maria Hjorth is a Swede who really likes Alabama and benefits from her husband's advice.
Hjorth, 38, won the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic last year, shooting consecutive 67s on the weekend to overcome 54-hole co-leaders Song-Hee Kim and 16-year-old Lexi Thompson. At the trophy presentation, she announced a donation of $20,000 to the victims of tornadoes that struck in Alabama earlier in tournament week. In 2007, Hjorth won the inaugural Navistar LPGA Classic in Prattville, Ala. Both tournaments were played at RTJ Golf Trail courses - the Senator Course in Prattville in 2007 and the Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove in Mobile last year.
"For me to give a little donation back, it came very easy for me," Hjorth said. "I was thinking about it all week that whoever wins this tournament should do something."
The victory last year held extra significance since husband Shaun McBride was working as her caddie. McBride used to caddie for Maria before the birth of their daughter, Emily, two years ago. He was away from his usual duty as the caddie for Bryce Molder on the PGA Tour and filled in as her caddie in Mobile.
"My husband was really on me,'' Hjorth told the Mobile (Ala.) Press Register earlier this month. "He was telling me the whole time that to win golf tournaments you don't have to play 100 percent. He said other people are making mistakes and you're going to make mistakes but as long as you limit the mistakes, knowing that 100 percent is not necessary, you can go out there and relax. You can make mistakes as long as you limit them.
"That helped me to relax more and not worry too much if I made a bogey or something. I felt that I could come back from something like that and still make birdies.''
McBride is off again this week from his duties with Molder and will be in Mobile, but he won't be caddieing.
Lexi's Sweet Home Alabama
Lexi Thompson is looking for some momentum, and Alabama may be the right place to find it. The 17-year-old rookie is coming off her first missed cut of the year last week at the LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf. In six 2012 starts, Thompson has a best finish of 14th at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February, ranks 54th on the LPGA money list with $44,712 and second in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year points behind So Yeon Ryu.
Alabama is where the young golfer burst onto the scene at age 14 and then became the LPGA's youngest winner late last year when she won the Navistar LPGA Classic in Prattville, Ala. Besides her win, Thompson has contended in three other starts in the state.
Here's a look at her Alabama performances:
|14-year-old amateur tied for lead after 65-69||T27|
|First-year pro, 15, opened 69-68-68||T16|
|16-year-old tied for third-round lead
before final-round 78
|2011||Navistar LPGA Classic,
|Became youngest winner of any professional
tour event in the United States
Mobile's veteran winners
The Mobile Bay LPGA Classic trends quite a bit older for winners during its three-year history. Angela Stanford, 30, won the first tournament in September 2008. The second tournament in 2010 was won by Se Ri Pak, 32. Last year, Maria Hjorth, 37, captured the title. This season on the LPGA, all of the winners have been in their teens or 20s except for Stanford, who won the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore at age 34.
Time on Tseng's Side
Yani Tseng was the only golfer named to Time magazine's annual list of 'The 100 Most Influential People in the World' last week. The world's No. 1 player has won three times and finished in the top 10 in each start on the LPGA this year. In Time's annual listing, three LPGA players have made the list - Michelle Wie in 2006, Lorena Ochoa in 2008 and Tseng this year.
"Yani's infectious smile and genuine enthusiasm for golf creates an aura that grabs the attention of galleries and living rooms, captivating even casual sports fans," Annika Sorenstam wrote in the issue. "People know they're witnessing greatness.
"A rare talent with the ability to energize a new generation of LPGA fans, Yani will get even better as she gains experience. Her potential both as a player and as an ambassador for the game is limitless."
The Crossings course
This week's Mobile Bay LPGA Classic will be played on the Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove for a fourth time. The course doubles across railroad tracks and was renovated in 2009 (between the first tournament and the second in 2010) with redesigned greens and extensive tree removal throughout the property. One new hole that draws attention is the 14th hole, a 149-yard par 3 which has a forced carry over water. Magnolia Grove has three courses - the Crossings Course, the Falls Course and the Short Course, an 18-hole par-3 layout.
The LPGA travels to Brazil next week (Saturday and Sunday, May 5-6) for the unofficial, 36-hole HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup in Rio de Janeiro. Colombia's Mariajo Uribe will defend the title on her home continent…. Azahara Munoz matched her career-best finish with a tie for second at the LPGA LOTTE Championship last week. The Spaniard previously finished second at the 2011 Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship…Last week's LPGA LOTTE Championship winner Ai Miyazato ranks first on the LPGA in putting, second in earnings and top-10 finishes and third in Rolex Player of the Year points.