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The Social Scene with Neal Reid - March

March 30 2013, Neal Reid

Calm before the storm

Off weeks are often much-needed for players battling it out on the daily grind on Tour, and this week has been a recharging opportunity for LPGA players. From resting and relaxing to practicing and enjoying friends, players have spent their week a number of ways as the first major of the year approaches.

The question isn’t what the players did this week in their time “off,” but, rather, what they didn’t do. They just never sit still, making me feel even lazier than I know I am.

Natalie Gulbis enjoyed checking out some amazing wheels (photo) at Lexus headquarters before doing a photo shoot (photo) for her sponsor, and here’s a shot of another one she did for Taylor Made (photo).  Gerina Piller took in some wildlife at a Bass Pro Shops store (photo).

World No. 1 Stacy Lewis did a photo shoot on Wednesday for Golf Digest magazine (photo), while Angela Stanford and Dori Carter were part of a group that played Pebble Beach (photo). Michelle Wie played a practice round at Mission Hills Country Club to tune up for next week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship (photo), and last week’s winner Beatriz Recari enjoyed a trip to the Golf Channel for its “Morning Drive” program (photo).

Jessica Korda got in a workout or two (photo), and Lexi Thompson soaked up some rays with friends at the beach (photo). Suzann Pettersen rubbed shoulders with iconic actor John Travolta (photo), Mina Harigae took in a Phoenix Suns game (photo) and Danielle Kang began working with an organization called Artists for Trauma (artistsfortrauma.org).

It wasn’t all fun and games though. Karen Stupples had the joy of going to the DMV and Social Security office to stand in lines that make waiting for a fivesome of duffers in front of her to clear the green after a round of four-putts seem like a dream.

I’ve loved checking out all of the photos going around Twitter of PGA Tour players and others “Dufnering,” a term coined to describe mocking Jason Dufner’s unique, relaxed and stoic mannerisms. Here’s a funny article on “Duff” and his many faces: (story). This is what set off the whole “Dufnering” thing, I believe.

Here are some of the better Tweets about it: photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, a Caddyshack rendering by Spalding (photo), Rory McIlroy doing it (photo) and, finally, Bubba Watson (photo) and Rickie Fowler (photo) getting in on the act.

Here's Karen Stupples (photo), Paula Creamer (photo) and Sandra Gal (photo) Dufnering.

Here’s a great one of Jason in the Auburn football weight room (photo), which inspired this Tweet from Head Coach Guz Malzahn, “Good to see my buddy ‪@JasonDufner at practice today. Glad he was ‪#dufnering in the weight room and not at practice.” This might be the best collage of the phenomenon: photo.

Simply hilarious.

I was the golf media relations coordinator while I was a student at Auburn, and Jason was there for a few of those same years. I always found him witty and mischevious, and I can’t remember the number of times myself and his Auburn teammates just shook our heads at the shenanigans he pulled. Two trips to Hawaii in particular come to mind.

He was always entertaining, and everyone knew he could flat-out play. I’m so glad he’s done well in recent years and was rooting for him hard as he went 3-1 at the Ryder Cup. Following him on Twitter has been a hoot, as well.

Well, that’s all for now. Next week, the stakes get raised a few notches in Palm Springs (photo), and I can’t wait to see what transpires. Who will take a celebratory dip here (photo) in Poppie’s Pond?

Until next time….

 

 

Busy weekend in Cali

While I wasn’t engrossed in the madness that is the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this past weekend, I was keeping tabs on the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif. There was plenty to take in.

Congrats to Beatriz Recari, who earned her second career LPGA victory by sinking an 18-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff with I.K. Kim. It was her first win since 2010, and the playoff result put a smile on her face after struggling with a final-round 74.

Recari, who moved up 19 spots in the Rolex Women’s Golf World Rankings to 26th with the win, was recently named as an official ambassador for The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness (story). Recari overcame an eating disorder to succeed as a professional golfer, and she should be as proud of that as her on-the-course exploits.

Another amazing thing about Recari is that she has played in every LPGA event for nearly three years and has not missed a cut in 18 months. That impressive feat has earned her the nickname “Iron Woman,” and it’s well-deserved.

No doubt European Solheim Cup Captain Liselotte Neumann was pleased by the Spaniard’s victory, and Neumann was in Carlsbad to take in the action (photo).

Hall of Famer Karrie Webb was in the hunt in Carlsbad over the weekend before finishing tied for sixth, and if the 38-time champion makes the cut in next week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship (which is more than likely), it’ll be 50 consecutive cuts made for the Aussie. Good on ya Webbie!

Jane Park, who also tied for sixth, received these helpful notes of encouragement from a golf VIP (Twitter). Park, who is an admitted “foodie,” Tweeted this photo (photo) of her post-round meal on Sunday.

One of the coolest things I saw over the weekend was this photo of a U.S. Marine tending the flag at No. 9 during the Kia Classic. Very nice touch by the tournament, and here’s another shot of a group of dedicated soldiers (photo). Lexi Thompson took the time to thank some of them (photo).

This photo that U.S. Solheim Cup Captain Meg Mallon posted was pretty cool too (photo). Even though she had to withdraw from the tournament due to fatigue relating to her recovery from malaria, Natalie Gulbis still did some work over the weekend, joining Golf Channel anchors in the booth (photo).

Tiffany Joh signed an enthusiastic fan’s chest at the tournament (photo), and Paula Creamer summed up her final-round 77 with this photo.

LPGA players enjoyed watching the Monday finish of the Bay Hill Invitational, and world No. 1 Stacy Lewis Tweeted this out after Tiger’s win: “Congrats ‪@TigerWoods! Welcome to #1!” before editing herself and adding in the word “back” to the message. With six wins in his last 20 events, there really is no question if he’s back or not, but the media will ask it anyway.

University of Southern California golfers got together for this photo at the Trojan Golf Classic on Monday as well. Hall of Famer Lee Trevino also joined the festivities: photo.

Creamer had her picture taken with PGA Tour star Rickie Fowler (photo) at the Tavistock Cup fundraiser, and Hall of Famer and 2013 European Solheim Cup Vice Captain Annika Sorenstam was there as well (photo).

Next week is the Tour’s first major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, one of my favorite tournaments to work during my LPGA tenure. From a beautiful backdrop and golf course and tasty treats in the food tent to great golf and a one-of-a-kind winner’s tradition, the tournament has it all.

It should be a heck of a week in Palm Springs, but more about that later.

Until next time….

 

California glam

It was time for the ladies to strut their stuff.

LPGA players’ Twitter handles have been abuzz this week with details of a fun and festive photo shoot with the Golf Channel in Carlsbad, Calif., where the Tour is this week for the Kia Classic. A number of players, including Suzann Pettersen (photo), Michelle Wie (photo), Jessica Korda (photo) and Lizette Salas (photo) participated in the shoot and had a blast.

TGC will use the photos during telecasts of LPGA events throughout the season.

Speaking of nice photos, Sandra Gal Tweeted this early morning shot (photo) of her warming up at Aviara Golf Club. New world No. 1 Stacy Lewis posted this photo (photo) of her caddie, Travis Wilson, sporting a pretty special caddie bib.

Natalie Gulbis – who tried to play in Carlsbad, but had to withdraw because she is recovering from Malaria – posted this shot of her working out in California (photo), proving that there’s no rest for the weary. Another nice shot here, with Wie taking time to meet some young fans – and possible LPGA stars of tomorrow – after her pro-am (photo).

If that’s not enough to make you love Wie, she partnered with her sponsor Kia in donating a 2014 Kia Sorento to Operation Hero at this year’s tournament (photo). The Homeland Emergency Relief Organization (operationhero.com) helps those affected by natural disasters.

It wasn’t a pretty scene earlier this week for defending champion Yani Tseng, who was a little under the weather and overslept, missing her Wednesday pro-am start time and therefore triggering an automatic withdrawal from the Kia Classic. The super-friendly Tseng felt awful about the situation, sending out the following statement.

“I’m embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t feeling well last night and accidentally overslept and missed my tee time for the pro-am this morning. I was extremely excited to compete this week to defend my title at the Kia Classic and to try to regain the No. 1 spot. This was an unfortunate mistake and I want to apologize to Kia, my sponsors and all of the fans. The Kia Classic is one of my favorite tournaments and I have so many great memories in San Diego. I can’t wait to come back here next year.”

LPGA veteran Karen Stupples posed for a picture (photo) with a beautiful Kia, which is the gift for a hole-in-one on the 14th hole at Aviara. The 39-year-old Stupples has done a great job losing weight and rebuilding her body in recent months, and her inspiring story was posted on LPGA.com earlier in the week (photo). 

Hall of Famer and 2013 European Solheim Cup Vice Captain Annika Sorenstam is staying plenty busy with her Annika Academy endeavor and had a special day on Thursday by wishing her son, Will, a happy second birthday. She re-Tweeted husband Mike McGee’s note: “RT ‪@jmikemcgee: 2 years ago 2day ‪@ANNIKA59 brought Will into the world. He had the "will" to strive & is a blessing. Happy bday buddy...”

In case you forgot, Will arrived a good bit early, scaring Sorenstam and her family (photo), but they all pulled through like champions and are enjoying life now.

There’s a prominent banner on LPGA.com advertising the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 video game, with a notation that the game will include an LPGA career mode. The game will be available on easports.com on Tuesday, and I think it shows how far the LPGA has come that the extensive women’s feature is included in the game.

It should be an interesting weekend at the Kia Classic, where players will be firing at pin flags before taking a week off leading up to the Tour’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Mission Hills, Calif. That was always one of my favorite tournaments to work, and not just for the amazing milkshakes in the player hospitality tent!

And the beat goes on….



Toast of the Tour

It’s good to be Stacy Lewis.

The reigning Rolex Player of the Year has been nothing short of amazing in 2013, and Sunday was just the latest in another example of that statement. Lewis made a big statement of her own by closing with an 8-under 64 in the final round of the RR Donnelly LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix to leapfrog Ai Miyazato and claim her seventh career LPGA victory with a 23-under-par total.

Lewis’ victory – her second in as many weeks – not only pushed her career earnings past $4.6 million but made the Arkansas native the new world No. 1. Lewis moved up two spots to unseat Yani Tseng – the leader for the last 109 weeks – from the top spot, becoming just the second American to hold down the No. 1 ranking since the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings were created.

Lewis, who spent seven years in a back brace and had surgery to insert a rod and pins into her back to correct a severe case of scoliosis, was on top of the world in more ways than one.

“I'm having a blast on the golf course, and to be No. 1 in the world, it's what everybody out here on Tour is working for,” said Lewis, who birdied four of her last six holes. “To be that person is, I mean, I really don't even know what to say. I couldn’t have dreamed that the kid who grew up wearing a back brace is the No. 1 player in the world.”

What made Lewis’ three-stroke win so much more impressive is that she was assessed a two-stroke penalty following the third round after it was deemed that her caddie, Travis Wilson, had committed an error by testing the ground in a bunker. Lewis handled the situation with dignity and an amazingly positive attitude and even said she used it as motivation on Sunday to play for Travis.

This is what she Tweeted after the round: “Weird end to a good day! Accidents happen, feel bad for my man Travis, but we still have a chance to win tomorrow!!!” And then she went out and won!

Twitter exploded with dozens of players and golf industry leaders congratulating Lewis for her accomplishment. She received Tweets from everyone from Hall of Famer Gary Player and former men’s No. 1 Luke Donald to Cristie Kerr – the first American to become No. 1 in 2010 – and Tseng herself.

Tseng showed the class act she is by posting this message to Lewis: “Congrats Stacy, you deserve this world number 1. Great job!! Happy for you. I am about to start chasing world number 1 now.”

Lewis spread her good cheer after the tournament, paying homage to the LPGA’s 13 founders by saying, “To have our founders out this week and our pioneers, they worked so much harder than I do right now to get this Tour up and running and everything is because of them. I feel like I need to keep giving back to the game and giving back to those kids because they're the future. They're going to be up here doing these interviews in 15 years. So, I just feel lucky to be able to do it.”

She did her part to pay it forward and promote the game by donating $50,000 to the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program, the tournament’s official beneficiary. Fellow American Angela Stanford donated half of her earnings (more than $50,000) to her foundation, the Angela Stanford Foundation, which helps children affected by cancer.

There was all kinds of activity in Phoenix over the weekend, to say the least.

In addition to LPGA founders Shirley Spork, Louise Suggs and Marilynn Smith attending the Phoenix event, a host of “pioneers” also made appearances. Golf World Executive Editor Ron Sirak Tweeted this photo (https://twitter.com/ronsirak/status/312979910954209280/photo/1/large) of Hall of Famers Pat Bradley, Betsy King, Nancy Lopez and JoAnne Carner from the tournament before he saw why it was “different out here” (https://t.co/FP0MPTHD2Q).

Brittany Lincicome took in some spring training baseball and sent out this beautiful picture from an Oakland A’s game: https://twitter.com/Brittany1golf/status/313017999156211713/photo/1/large, and former Indy Car driver Lyn St. James made an appearance in the stands (https://twitter.com/lpga/status/313064754568638465/photo/1/large).

Some lucky fans were able to pick up this Tseng bobblehead (https://twitter.com/lpga/status/313323558082326530/photo/1/large) at the tournament, and these hats (https://twitter.com/lpga/status/313322547267661825/photo/1/large) were on sale in honor of Sunday being St. Patrick’s Day. U.S. Solheim Cup Captain Meg Mallon – who no doubt was thrilled to see 10 Americans earning points with top-20 finishes in Phoenix – enjoyed Sunday by getting a sports fix (https://twitter.com/MegMallonUSA/status/313396772745641984/photo/1/large).

Bobble head mania continued earlier this week at the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif., with Lewis having some fun at the expense of Commissioner Mike Whan. Thanks to Lewis, he was everywhere, including here (http://lockerz.com/s/287550155), here (http://lockerz.com/s/287556852), here (http://lockerz.com/s/287559006) and here (http://lockerz.com/s/287568130). Nice work Stacy!

Lewis, who signed with Omega Watches this week, was interviewed live for ESPNNews on Monday from the Kia Classic (https://twitter.com/lpga/status/313815935448391680/photo/1/large), a pretty cool development for the new world No. 1.

Writing this column, I’ve noticed that the players – despite what they might shoot on a given day – are really enjoying themselves on Tour. All you have to do is see their Twitter feeds to realize that, and the sport is in a good place right now. The camaraderie among them is as deep and far-reaching as I’ve ever seen, and that’s a great thing.

Until next time….

 

LPGA Delights in the Desert

In case you were fixated of the Vatican’s announcement of the new Pope or – like nearby Denver obsessed with an NFL free-agent signing – you may have missed the news that U.S. Solheim Cup Team Captain Meg Mallon tabbed four-time Solheim Cup participant Laura Diaz as her second assistant captain. The announcement was made at the RR Donnelly LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix on Wednesday (http://instagram.com/p/W0FSojw4J-/), and the addition of Diaz to Mallon’s team that includes Dottie Pepper as assistant captain should add some punch to the U.S. Team’s energy.

The two-time LPGA champ is a feisty and fiery competitor who Mallon expects to be her eyes and ears on the Tour, as Diaz is still competing on a full-time basis. The captains are now set (https://twitter.com/lpga/status/311985367647649793/photo/1/large), so now the drama falls upon the players, who will fight for position for roughly the next five months leading up to the event.

Mallon said, only half jokingly, at the press conference that LPGA Founder Louise Suggs, who is 89, will be one of her captain’s picks. Knowing Louise the way I do, the Solheim Cup is something in which she would have loved to have the chance to compete.

Natalie Gulbis withdrew from her second tournament in a row (http://golfweek.com/news/2013/mar/13/gulbis-wds-phoenix-she-recovers-malaria/), and she announced through IMG that she does, indeed, have malaria. She’s expected to be out for three weeks, and I join many people in wishing her a speedy recovery. Gulbis still managed to write this blog (http://espn.go.com/espnw/blog/post/3674/remarkable-places-traveled-to) for ESPNW, a great sports website geared toward women that I have been lucky enough to write for.

Suzann Pettersen, who won the LET event in China last week, was fighting jet lag on Thursday and fought her way to a 1-over 73 despite feeling like a “zoombie.” Apparently, Angela Stanford was feeling the same thing on Tuesday and Tweeted: “I feel like our tour should be renamed. I like Jetlag Tour. Sounds cool.”

Morgan Pressel had a pretty good week, getting to spend time with seven Medal of Honor recipients (http://instagram.com/p/WwxnWCw4DW/) earlier in the week and seeing her younger sis, Madison, qualify for the North Texas LPGA Shootout, April 25-28.

The ever progressive LPGA Communications Department helped put out an LPGA Fan Guide (https://twitter.com/KraigKann/status/311558748026052608/photo/1/large) that debuted this week, a great idea that has been well-received by fans aching to know more about their favorite players.

Festivities in Phoenix included a poolside pro-am party (https://twitter.com/KraigKann/status/311753496972124160/photo/1/large), a celebration honoring the LPGA Founders and pioneers (http://instagram.com/p/W2cbVUl2Fo/), who were on-hand at the tournament to sign autographs, and former Major League Baseball players participating in the pro-am (https://twitter.com/KRISTY2208/status/311883609789313025/photo/1/large). Former Philadelphia Phillies first baseman John Kruk’s team won the pro-am, and he joined fellow former baseball stars Aaron Rowand and A.J. Pierzynski (https://twitter.com/ronsirak/status/311957113071091714/photo/1/large) for a press conference in the media center.

Players continued their online tributes to the LPGA founders with Tweets like this from Paula Creamer: “LPGA Founders. Amazing women! Their efforts then=me living my dream now. Thank you soooo much!!” Here’s another one from the newly named 2013 LPGA Girls Golf Ambassador Vicky Hurst: “Thank you to the 13 Founders for paving the way for women’s golf and giving us the opportunity to play this great game!!

LPGA players also took part in annual player portrait photo shoots for promotional materials. First-round leader Ai Miyazato (http://instagram.com/p/Wz40Igupaw/) was one of them.

Sports Illustrated’s Alan Shipnuck wrote this piece on reigning Rolex Player of the Year Stacy Lewis, who is off to a great start in 2013: http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/stacy-lewis-sounding-and-swinging-shes-ready-be-new-face-lpga.

There could be huge drama this weekend in Phoenix, as the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women’s Golf World Rankings could change. Here’s what LPGA Communications Tweeted about it: “Projections show that Yani Tseng can lose the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings this week to No. 2 Na Yeon Choi or No. 3 Stacy Lewis. Na Yeon Choi takes No. 1 spot with a win and Yani fourth place or worse. Stacy takes No. 1 with a win and Yani third place or worse.”

Golf World’s Ron Sirak wrote about Tseng’s struggle to live up to being the top player in the world: http://www.golfworldmonday.com/golfworldmonday/20130314/?pg=15&pm=1&u1=friend#pg15. This fan’s photo message (https://twitter.com/Brittany1golf/status/312557609196605440/photo/1/large) to Brittany Lincicome helped re-energize her after a first-round 75 in Phoenix.

Congrats to Jane Rah, who achieved the 31st albatross in LPGA history in Thursday’s opening round by holing out a 3-wood from 226 yards for a double eagle. She finished with a 1-over 73.

And finally, fans can vote through Monday for featured pairings for next week’s Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif., through this link: http://www.lpga.com/golf/features/kia-classic-featured-pairings.aspx.

That’s enough for now. Until next time….



Paving the way for greatness

Thirteen.

It’s considered an unlucky number by many, but, for the LPGA, it’s a magical one. It represents will, determination and passion – attributes shared by the women who decided to create something bigger than themselves.

In 1950, 13 women changed the sports landscape by coming together to form the Ladies Professional Golf Association to give women an avenue in which to compete at the highest level of the sport. The early years were tough, and the founders faced a seemingly endless array of obstacles, but they never wavered from their goal.

Fast forward 62 years, and the LPGA is thriving. I remember honoring the founders at the LPGA’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2000, a year-long series of events that paid tribute to the women’s drive and fortitude. It was a great time, and I have many fond memories from the celebratory year.

The 13 founders were: Alice Bauer, Patty Berg, Bettye Danoff, Helen Dettweiler, Marlene Hagge, Helen Hicks, Opal Hill, Betty Jameson, Sally Sessions, Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork, Louise Suggs and Babe Zaharias. I was lucky enough to meet Berg and Jameson before they passed away in 2006 and 2009, respectively, and I also had the pleasure of meeting Marlene Hagge, Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Louise Suggs.

I’ll never forget seeing Suggs drive her Cadillac – with license plate TEED OFF – into the LPGA headquarters parking lot and spending time talking to her at the office. Whenever Louise was around, everyone would stop what they were doing to come and talk to her, and she was always gracious with her time.

If you don’t like “Weesie,” as she’s affectionately called, you just don’t like people. She’s thoughtful, fun-loving, witty and hilarious, and boy does she have a passion for the game.

Berg was also very fun to talk to, and Jameson was a dignified lady who appreciated every minute of the recognition the founders received for their efforts in creating the association. Smith is a gem of a person, and Spork is a caring, intense and determined woman with a great sense of humor.

Nine of the 13 founders have passed away, but their legacy lives on through the players of today.

It’s always great to see the current players paying homage to the founders, and they’re doing a lot of that this week in Phoenix, where the third annual RR Donnelly LPGA Founders Cup is being played at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa’s Wildfire Golf Club. Players have been Tweeting about their thanks and appreciation of what the founders did, and it’s nice to know they realize the history these ladies made.

Anna Nordqvist posted this, “Thanks to the 13 ‪@LPGAFounders for paving the way and giving us the opportunity to play!” Her sentiments were echoed by Natalie Gulbis, who wrote, “Thanks to the 13 ‪@LPGAFounders for paving the way and giving us the opportunity to play!!!! Can’t wait to honor them this week in Phoenix.”

LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan also Tweeted his appreciation, saying, “Can't know where u r going, if u don't understand ‘where you've been’ – THANK YOU LPGA Founders and Pioneers!!! C U in PHX!!”

Fittingly, tournament week in Phoenix also included a junior clinic on Tuesday to promote the game to the stars of tomorrow.

I wonder what the founders would have Tweeted back in 1950 when they created the LPGA if social media had been a mainstay like it is today. Possibly something like, “It’s our time to shine,” from Berg or “Get ready for us world,” from Zaharias? Who knows, but it’s fun to speculate.

If you want to see a bit more about one of the LPGA’s founders, check out this video posted by LPGA.com (http://www.lpga.com/media-library/videos/2012/players/13-founders/bs12-founders-rd4-fr-zaharaias_b-feature.aspx).

In addition to all the Phoenix activity, players were in neighing Scottsdale on Monday to play in Betsy King’s Golf Fore Africa Visions of Hope Pro-Am to raise money for the clean water program. Ai Miyazato took in a Phoenix Suns game (https://twitter.com/lpga/status/311324604662677505/photo/1/large) as well.

It should be a heck of a week in Phoenix, and I’m sure current and past players of all ages who are there to enjoy it will be proud of where the association is today.

And it wouldn’t be possible without the vision of 13 brave women.

 


Information: Society’s drug of choice

For someone who didn’t have e-mail until college and a cell phone until I began working for the LPGA in 1998, the technological and social media boom we’ve seen in the last 15 years was something that took a while for me to get my mind around. 

I resisted the urge to start a Myspace or Facebook page until it became an overwhelming desire driven by my peers and society as a whole, and I begrudgingly stepped into the waters of social media. I’ve written for the Associated Press since my junior year at Auburn (1996), and when the AP began making its full-time writers send Tweets from events years ago, I remember thinking it was a sign of the apocalypse and evidence that the death of journalism was on its way.

Instead, it was just a sign of the times, proof that the landscape of our society is ever-changing and fluid. Now that 2013 is here, social media dominates the world in ways we never dreamed. 

People communicate via Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis, sharing aspects of their lives with friends and the world in general (whether we want to know or not). It’s helped me stay in touch with friends from high school and ones who have moved away, and I’ve even been able to use it to promote my freelance writing business. It’s both good and bad, and it’s just the reality of our time.

From corporations like Pepsi using social media to advertise, businesses owners using it to promote themselves and professional sports organizations utilizing the realm to the fullest, social media is everywhere. Frankly, this column probably wouldn’t exist without it. 

Now, everyone is a “reporter,” posting facts, theories and thoughts 150 characters at a time and sharing photos from around the world as a seasoned photojournalist would. I’m not saying the quality is the same, but the end result is similar.

There are more blogs on the Internet than you can shake a wireless mouse at, and some people – like ESPN’s Bill Simmons – have turned blogs into big-time gigs. Journalists now write articles about what professional sports athletes, politicians and celebrities Tweeted, using their posts as quotes. 

On one hand, that has made journalists’ jobs easier, as quotes are easier to come by, but in another way, it’s made it more difficult because they often have to react to Tweets with articles they never otherwise would have been obligated to write. As with everything else that has been an advancement in society, there are both good and bad aspects to social media.

But it’s perfect and custom-designed for our immensely individualistic society, a society that is addicted to information like never before. We want to know everything about everything, and social media helps us do that. 

My favorite comedian, Louis CK, said this about Twitter, “Stop Tweeting. Actually live your life instead of just Tweeting about it.” How’d I find that quote? It was Tweeted out by Sydnee Michaels. Now, that’s funny!

Social media is a tidal wave that, if you don’t get on it, will crush you in its wake. That’s been my attitude toward it in recent years, and I find myself logging onto Facebook and Twitter – where my handle is @NealReid21 – daily to stay connected and get information like a crack addict looking for a fix. 

I have drunk the Kool-Aid.

Writing this blog has taught me several things, including the fact that LPGA players are great communicators who deserve journalism merit badges for their reports from life on Tour. They sure know how to utilize Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and they pepper the “Interwebs” with posts almost constantly. 

I can’t count the number of photos I’ve listed in my blogs that were taken by players from cities around the world, and it’s been interesting to see places I’ve never been through their eyes. The players lead such interesting and insanely busy lives, and social media is really the best and most efficient way to capture the essence of their experiences.

There is no LPGA event this week, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been news. Here’s a small sampling of what’s gone on in the past few days since I last wrote. 

Paula Creamer revealed on Twitter she’s discovered she is gluten intolerant, allergic to a number of foods and will have to change her diet (https://twitter.com/ThePCreamer/status/309502527173455874/photo/1/large), and the LPGA’s Mike Scanlan used the site to chronicle Commissioner Mike Whan’s media tour in the New York area, which included this stop at Forbes Magazine (https://twitter.com/lpga/status/309338498593341440/photo/1/large). Sandra Gal used Twitter to answer fan questions of all sorts, and Natalie Gulbis had recovered enough from a virus that caused her withdrawal in Singapore to play a practice round at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, Calif., where the LPGA will visit for the Kia Classic March 21-24 (https://twitter.com/natalie_gulbis/status/309760301929201664/photo/1/large).

In addition, Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam Tweeted a picture of her and her kids (https://twitter.com/ANNIKA59/status/309108854287917057/photo/1/large), Michelle Wie went fishing on a day off (http://instagram.com/p/Wf6O8EJ-lt/) and Danielle Kang bought a Porsche (http://instagram.com/p/WgH30sw-I9/). If that’s not enough, Jessica Korda lounged in Palm Springs (http://instagram.com/p/Wgc-4ySUir/) with a furry companion, Suzann Pettersen participated in a golf clinic at Mission Hills in China (https://twitter.com/suzannpettersen/status/309229145508962304/photo/1/large), where she left her handprints (https://twitter.com/suzannpettersen/status/309592522399813632/photo/1/large) for posterity, and world No. 1 Yani Tseng appeared on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” show (https://twitter.com/YaniTseng/status/309667882181222400/photo/1/large). 

My favorite posts of the week came from LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann, who ran into former Notre Dame football coach and current ESPN commentator Lou Holtz on a U.S. Airways flight. Kann discovered Holtz is a big LPGA fan and delighted the Hall of Fame coach with a new LPGA player guide (https://twitter.com/KraigKann/status/309439799125766144/photo/1/large). Pretty cool stuff.

That’s it for now, but there’s no doubt there will be more to come later.



Still the one

Reigning Rolex Player of the Year Stacy Lewis continued her torrid start to the season with a one-shot victory over world No. 2 Na Yeon Choi at the HSBC Women's Champions 2013 in Singapore. She has a scoring average of 69.58 through 12 rounds so far, leads the money list and Rolex Player of the Year standings and has finished no worse than 15th this season.

Lewis, who bogeyed No. 17 to make things interesting, Tweeted this about her narrow victory, the sixth of her career: "Wow that was stressful! So happy to come away with the win!!!! How about all the American flags on the board too??!" Lewis was joined by Americans Paula Creamer (third), Jessica Korda (tied for fifth), Lexi Thompson (tied for eighth), Morgan Pressel (tied for 10th), Lizette Salas (13th), Nicole Castrale (tied for 14th) and Brittany Lincicome (tied for 18th) in the top 20 who earned valuable Solheim Cup points for the upcoming August event.

The final round included more moves than an episode of Dancing With the Stars, including a three-way tie at the top and players shuffling up and down the leaderboard virtually on every hole. Golf World Executive Editor Ron Sirak Tweeted this interesting nugget about the final HSBC standings: "Top 9 in ‪@LPGA HSBC: Lewis, NY Choi, Creamer, A. Jutanugarn, Kung, Korda, D. Kang, Thompson, C. Choi average age 23 with 4 under 21."

Lewis' new sponsor, KPMG, posted this ("Inspired by ‪@Stacy_Lewis' win, KPMG will donate 5,000 new books & refurbish the library at Betsy Ross Elementary! ‪http://KPMG.com/Stacy ") on Twitter about her victory, proving how much of an impact players can have on communities. Lewis Tweeted that her route home would be Singapore to Frankfurt, Germany, to JFK International Airport in NYC to Palm Beach International Airport in Florida … whew!

Natalie Gulbis, who withdrew after a first-round 75, had a virus that was not Malaria and is reportedly close to heading back to the States to recover, as is Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak, who withdrew due to illness before the tournament.

From stifling humidity to a pouring rain storm (https://twitter.com/lpga/status/307756924429025283/photo/1/large), players saw varying conditions at Sentosa Golf Club during the 72-hole event. Lewis' caddie Travis Wilson, who earned Caddie of the Year honors at the annual Caddie Awards in Singapore, posed for a picture with himself (http://lockerz.com/s/285722518) during the rain delay.

Players were highly complimentary about the HSBC tournament staff's hospitality and professionalism, as evidenced by Angela Stanford's Tweet, "Enjoyed spending some time with the HSBC folks. They do it right here! Thanks ‪@HSBCWomensGolf" and this one by Korda: "HUGE thank you to ‪@HSBCWomensGolf for making this tournament so amazing! Always love coming back to Singapore!!!!"

Korda snapped this amazing aerial shot of Singapore (http://instagram.com/p/WZPIqkSUqH/), prompting Sirak to post this humorous Tweet: "Looks like the Emerald City. Does the Wizard of Oz live there?"

World No. 1 Yani Tseng sent out this photo from aboard Jack Nicklaus' boat in Singapore: https://twitter.com/YaniTseng/status/308411065413300224/photo/1/large.

The LPGA on Friday rolled out a players' guide for fans (http://www.lpga.com/golf/news/2013/2/online-player-guide-release.aspx), a progressive PR item that has been praised by fans and media alike. Nice job to LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann and his communications crew.

European Solheim Cup Captain Liselotte Neumann Tweeted this picture of herself cross-country skiing on Saturday: https://twitter.com/lotta_eucapt/status/307860994422628353/photo/1/large).

Congrats to second-year LPGA player Sydnee Michaels, who was named one of Men's Fitness magazine's "Top 10 Sexiest Female Athletes of 2013" recently (http://www.mensfitness.com/women/galleries/top-10-sexiest-female-athletes-of-2013?page=5). Michaels, who earned $192,544 as a rookie last season, came in at No. 4 on the list.

Players have a week off to recover from jet lag and regroup before the first U.S.-based tournament of the year - the RR Donnelly LPGA Founders Cup - takes place in Phoenix March 14-17. Tseng, who has two top-five finishes so far this year, is the defending champion, so it should be an entertaining tournament.

The off week wasn't a vacation for most LPGA pros, as players spent time fighting off jet lag, attending charity pro-ams and other tournaments (https://twitter.com/suzannpettersen/status/308943530120843264/photo/1/large). LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan was in the Baltimore area along with LPGA Communications Director Mike Scanlan to promote the newly formed International Crown team event.

Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam, who is one of Neumann's vice captains for this year's Solheim Cup, Tweeted this photo from her house as she got ready to do yet another Golf Channel interview: http://t.co/BFjBdKolkm. Kann was in Irving, Texas, earlier this week with Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lang and Gerina Piller for a media day for the North Texas Shootout, one of the LPGA's two new tournaments this season, at Las Colinas Country Club (https://twitter.com/KraigKann/status/308945095896494082/photo/1/large).

As the characters in the great movie "Almost Famous" say, "It's all happening!"

 

Singapore swing

The third and final installment of the LPGA's overseas kickoff to the 2013 season is under way in Singapore, and the activity has been non-stop.

Reigning Rolex Player of the Year Stacy Lewis was the 36-hole leader of the HSBC Women's Champions and already has two top-15 finishes this season, including a tie for third last week in Thailand. It was nice to see 17-year-old LET rookie Ariya Jutanugarn rebound from a triple bogey on the 72nd hole last week that cost her the title at last week's Honda LPGA Thailand with a pair of rounds in the 60s in Singapore to work her way into the mix through 36 holes.

That shows a lot about Jutanugarn's character and mental toughness, and her name could be one LPGA fans need to remember for some time. Paula Creamer showed no ill effects of being involved in a five-car crash in Thailand last week, as she was 9-under through two rounds in Singapore. Ai Miyazato wasn't as lucky, withdrawing from the event because of lingering effects of whiplash: http://www.examiner.com/article/ai-miyazato-withdraws-from-lpga-tourney-with-whiplash.

Other withdrawals included Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak, whom the LPGA reported was suffering from flu-like symptoms, and Natalie Gulbis, who also withdrew due to illness and was undergoing tests after a first-round 75.

Morgan Pressel eagled the par-5 seventh hole at The Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club in Round 1, triggering her first donation of the year to the Eagles for St. Jude project. Pressel and Mina Harigae are participating in the program, and more information about the charity can be found here: http://www.eaglesforstjude.org/index.html.

Jessica Korda, who won last year in Australia, and Mariajo Uribe - who tied for eighth in Australia this year - both celebrated birthdays in Singapore on Wednesday, with Korda turning 20 and Uribe 23. Jennifer Johnson Tweeted this awesome picture of a floating - yes, floating! - soccer field in Singapore: https://twitter.com/JJohnson_LPGA/status/306678036978360320/photo/1/large.

Beatriz Recari, who had two top-five finishes in the season's first two events, spent some time doing a Golfing World TV interview (https://twitter.com/BeatrizRecari/status/306635943673208832/photo/1/large) while in Singapore, further proving how accommodating and accessible the LPGA players are to media and fans. Michelle Wie and Jeehae Lee visited Under Water World Singapore during some down time, and Wie Tweeted this picture (http://instagram.com/p/WOj4pIp-u0/) and this one (http://instagram.com/p/WOkTojp-vD/) to show how much fun she had.

Speaking of fun, Danielle Kang and Hillary Packard got a thrill from zip-lining in Singapore (http://instagram.com/p/WOlmIPQ-M8/). Yani Tseng got in on the action too: https://twitter.com/YaniTseng/status/306695359634214912/photo/1/large.

Nicole Castrale and Paula Creamer glammed it up at the tournament's welcome reception: https://twitter.com/NicoleCastrale/status/306742128665583616/photo/1/large, as did Wie and Korda (http://instagram.com/p/WPBR4GJ-gU/), who towered over Hall of Famer Karrie Webb (http://instagram.com/p/WPDngNp-iF/). Lexi Thompson took a putt for charity despite not having the right footwear for the challenge: http://instagram.com/p/WPCrd-xCFh/) and Lizette Salas apparently did Kang's makeup for the event.  

Players have been raving about Singapore and Tweeting pictures from their hotel rooms of the amazing views. If you are like me and have never been to the one-of-a-kind city, check out this shot from Harigae: https://twitter.com/minaharigae/status/306748556876849152/photo/1/large.

Before her withdrawal, Gulbis provided a picture (https://twitter.com/natalie_gulbis/status/306680881639215104/photo/1/large) of something you usually only see on the back-nine of a beer-infused grudge match between friends on the course - a golf cart being driven through a bunker! I'm not saying I've done that, but I have witnessed it. Gulbis snapped the shot during the pro-am for the HSBC Women's Champions event.

Other fun from the tournament included the annual Caddie Awards, with various "prizes" being handed out to LPGA caddies. Lewis' caddie, Travis Wilson, won Caddie of the Year, and here's a shot of Hall of Famer Juli Inkster saying a few words at the event: https://twitter.com/Brittany1golf/status/307485554252066817/photo/1/large.

Meanwhile, back in the States, my fellow Auburn Tiger Nicole Hage got the thrill of playing a round with legend Pete Dye at The Dye Preserve in Jupiter, Fla., (https://twitter.com/NicoleHage/status/307220127886221312/photo/1/large).

As you can see, there's constant action on the LPGA Tour, and players are thriving as professional athletes. It's fun to watch and report about.

Neal Reid is a freelance writer based in Colorado Springs, Colo., who has written for USA Today, The Associated Press, ESPN.com, ESPNW.com, Newsday, the Colorado Springs Gazette, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Oakland Tribune, Marin (Calif.) Independent-Journal and numerous regional and national magazines. He was a media relations coordinator for the LPGA from 1998-2004.

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