The classic Lynyrd Skynyrd Southern rock anthem “Sweet Home Alabama” should be playing in the heads of Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson this week. The two reside in Skynyrd’s home state of Florida (even though Lewis is a Texas native) but both have had great success in Alabama.
Lewis won both Alabama stops on the LPGA last season, at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in the spring and the Navistar LPGA Classic in the fall, by shooting a combined 35-under par. Thompson finished second to Lewis in both events (by one in Mobile and two in Prattville), shooting 66-65 on the weekend in Mobile and bookend rounds of 63-66 at Prattville. In 2009 at Prattville, Thompson, a 14-year-old amateur, was tied for the lead after opening 65-69. The first-year pro opened 69-68-68 in 2010 at Prattville. She was tied for the third-round lead in 2011 in Mobile before a final-round 78 and then became the LPGA’s youngest winner at Prattville in 2011. Unfortunately for both players, the Prattville tournament is not on the 2013 LPGA schedule.
Here’s how the two have fared in their Alabama careers:
|Stacy Lewis||Mobile Bay LPGA Classic||Navistar LPGA Classic|
|Lexi Thompson||Mobile Bay LPGA Classic||Navistar LPGA Classic|
Alabama LPGA events plentiful
Alabama may seem like a remote site for LPGA golf, but the Yellowhammer State has been a LPGA site since the first tournament in 1962 and has often been the site of two events in one season.
The first Alabama tournament played on the LPGA occurred in 1962 when Mickey Wright beat Mary Lena Faulk in a playoff at the Western Open, played at Montgomery (Ala.) Country Club. There was a 10-year gap before LPGA golf began an 11-year run in Birmingham at Green Valley Country Club. When a 16-year void of LPGA golf ceased in 1998, the LPGA began playing annually in Alabama, including two tournaments each season five of the previous six seasons.
Alabama winners on the LPGA have included Wright, Betty Burfeindt, Gloria Ehret, Jane Blalock (twice), Maria Astrologes, Jan Stephenson, Debbie Austin, Hollis Stacy, Barbara Barrow, Beth Solomon, Beth Daniel, Kelly Robbins, Akiko Fukushima, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak (twice), Dorothy Delasin, Heather Daly-Donofrio, Christina Kim, Lorena Ochoa (three times), Maria Hjorth (twice), Paula Creamer, Angela Stanford, Katherine Hull-Kirk, Lexi Thompson and Stacy Lewis (twice).
No. 1 not in Mobile field
Inbee Park is home in South Korea this week visiting as the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic tees off. It marks the first time this season when the No. 1-ranked player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings is not in the field for a LPGA tournament.
Park took over the top spot in the rankings four weeks ago (April 15) and has finished T4, win (North Texas LPGA Shootout) and seventh in that time span. Stacy Lewis began the season as the No. 1 player.
Players’ LPGA relations
Relatives of former LPGA players fared quite well in The Players Championship on the PGA Tour last week. Roberto Castro tied the TPC Sawgrass course record with a first-round 63. He is the nephew of former LPGA player Jenny Lidback, who won the 1995 du Maurier Classic. Sweden’s David Lingmerth, who finished tied for second, is the nephew of former NFL place-kicker Garth Lingmerth who was married to former LPGA player Heather Farr. Farr died of breast cancer in 1993.
This week’s host course, The Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove, is one of 11 courses statewide that make up the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, all designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. They are part of the investments by the Retirement Systems of Alabama. … The Jutanugarn sisters, Ariya and Moriya, are in the field this week for a second consecutive LPGA event. Ariya received a sponsor’s exemption this week. … Rookie Inhong Lim made this week’s field – her first career LPGA starts – by winning a six-hole playoff on Monday. She parred the sixth extra hole at Magnolia Grove to beat former Alabama golfer Courtney Harter. LSU golfer Tessa Teachman was the qualifying medalist. Only two players earned spots.