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The Social Scene with Neal Reid - July

July 31 2013, Neal Reid

The Social Scene with Neal Reid

A date with history

Oh, what a week for golf fans!

Not only is it major championship time again on the LPGA Tour, but the RICOH Women’s British Open is being played in the “home of golf” at The Old Course at St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Aside from the Solheim Cup teams being finalized on Sunday, the biggest story in all of golf is world No. 1 Inbee Park’s quest for the Grand Slam this week. The South Korean has won the first three majors of the season and is among the favorites heading into Thursday’s opening round.

Can she pull it off, or will someone else steal the headlines and make a name for themselves? It’s going to be great to watch, and ESPN2 will have all of the coverage. I’ll also be tuning in to the Golf Channel Sunday evening to see the Solheim Cup teams finalized on live TV.

Fittingly, players have been giddy about being at the historic grounds, Tweeting photos of themselves and the course like paparazzi. Dozens of them have posed for shots on the iconic Swilcan Bridge, including Karen Stupples, Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie, Brittany Lincicome, Azahara Munoz, Lizette Salas and Danielle Kang (photo), Nicole Hage and Lexi Thompson (photo) and this group.

Jessica Korda even got her grandparents, who made the trip from the Czech Republic, into the photo mix, and Creamer did a cartwheel in front of the bridge. Here’s a look at two of the hardest-working guys in all of golf, by LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann (left) and LPGA Director, Media Communications, Mike Scanlan.

There were even a couple of photo shoots, seen here and here, on the bridge. Here’s a beautiful sunrise shot from Kang, a pic of Hage and her father in front of the clubhouse and a shot of some ominous-looking clouds on Monday, courtesy of Felicity Johnson.

Julieta Granada posted these shots from the course, here’s a nice one from Sandra Gal, and Vicky Hurst got a nice pic of the 18th hole on Saturday. Here’s a great shot of Veronica Felibert hitting an approach shot into the final hole, and Thompson got an up-close look at one of St. Andrews’ famous bunkers while Korda got in a little putting practice.

Stupples found a promotional banner featuring Scot Catriona Matthew in town, and this quartet of players joined together for a practice round on Monday. Want to see a green that’s 103 yards deep? Here you go, thanks to Hage.

Here’s a great shot of Kerr hitting an approach on 18 during Monday’s practice round, and this shot from Kang gives you an idea what the driving range looks like at St. Andrews. Here’s a nice shot from Tuesday from Kann, and Paula Creamer and Hage took a moment to smile by the first tee while top-ranked American Stacy Lewis stopped by the media center for a press conference.

Golf World’s Ron Sirak has been snap-happy as well, sharing photographic gems like this one, this one, this one and this one, among others. The course received a big dose of rain on Sunday and was closed as a result, but it should be good to go for this week, despite more rain earlier in the week.

Most players spent the weekend traveling to Scotland via a variety of routes, and I’m sure they were happy to finally make it there after long journeys. Natalie Gulbis has a list of travel essentials she takes to help her get through the experiences.

Anna Nordqvist, who will likely qualify for the Solheim Cup, is sporting a new bag this week for the Open, while Wie was sporting some zany Nikes. Speaking of the Solheim Cup, Suzann Pettersen spent some quality time with the Waterford crystal cup on Saturday.

On the Ladies European Tour, Gal had a hole-in-one in the ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters on Saturday and finished tied for fourth to earn some big Solheim Cup points. Not to be outdone, Christina Kim aced the final hole on her way to a tie with Gal before posing for a photo with a fan.

On a random note, European Solheim Cup Assistant Captain Annika Sorenstam Tweeted this cool pic of Jesper Parnevik practicing in Reno, Nev., on Sunday. Congrats to Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, who won the ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters on Sunday, proving she remains an elite player on any tour.

Simply put, the next few weeks are going to be something else for women’s golf. This weekend combined with the Solheim Cup, Aug. 16-18, will have the ladies in the forefront of the golf world, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch!

Until next time….

 

Hot fun in the summer time

With a week off to prepare for the RICOH Women’s British Open at The Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, LPGA players spent their time in a multitude of ways.

From practicing, spending time with friends and relaxing, to traveling, enjoying nice weather and catching up on odds and ends at home, Tour members have been busy bees this week. There’s always something going on or something to do when you’re a professional athlete, as this edition of “Twitter Theater” shows.

Suzann Pettersen continued her traveling ways in Norway and even stopped by the cockpit before a flight to Bodo (photo) on Wednesday before hitting a very interesting tee shot, while So Yeon Ryu went on a hike with her mother. Jessica Korda had this great venue as her practice backdrop, and world No. 1 Inbee Park – who will be gunning for the grand slam in Scotland – was showing off her Ferrari.

Anna Nordqvist won some chocolate at a fair, Nicole Hage got a grip on some of her clubs, and last week’s winner Beatriz Recari got some help cleaning her bag for an appearance on “The Morning Drive” on the Golf Channel. Christina Kim appears in a new ad for Cradlz, Lizette Salas spent some quality time with her nephew, and European Solheim Cup Assistant Captain Annika Sorenstam attended yet another a charity event.

Michelle Wie beached it for a swim workout, and it looked as if the weather was grand. Natalie Gulbis was practicing knock-down shots for next week and posted this awesome throwback photo of her and former world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa from their days at the University of Arizona.

Amy Yang showed off her pool skills, Golf World’s Ron Sirak was already in St. Andrews and got a look at the famed course, and LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan (on the right side of this photo) got a behind-the-scenes look at things at the Golf Channel before doing the “Morning Drive” show on Thursday. Recari was practicing for the trip abroad on Thursday, Brittany Lincicome was in Amsterdam doing the tourist thing and getting in some golf, and Sandra Gal was at a pro-am party for the European Ladies Masters, where she will try to earn some much-needed Solheim Cup points this weekend.

Ryann O’Toole had fun at Sea World, Julieta Granada was putting in the practice time every pro needs, and Veronica Felibert was all packed for Scotland. Ryu was at the KEB-Hana Bank Championship (photo) in her native Korea, Gulbis made a trip to AT&T Park in San Francisco on Thursday and Amanda Blumenherst (photo) was in Oakland to see her husband, Nate Freiman, and his A’s play against the Anaheim Angels.

Kim took her shots at the “Snag Man” at the European Ladies Masters, PING Junior Solheim Cup European Captain Janice Moodie hosted the Janice Moodie Pro-Lady at Avon Oaks Country Club in Avon Ohio, and Inbee Park found a huge poster of herself in her native Korea. Karen Stupples – who has a Women’s British Open title on her resume – was at the Crail Golfing Society, the seventh-oldest golf club in the world, in Fife, Scotland, on Friday, while Hall of Famer Juli Inkster celebrated her 33rd wedding anniversary with her super-nice husband, Brian.

Gulbis was with her mother on Friday, posed with some San Francisco 49ers cheerleaders while participating in a Michelob Ultra outing, and Belen Mozo and Mariajo Uribe were there as well. Sirak and Felibert played a round of golf at the Old Course and stopped to take a picture on the iconic Swilcan Bridge before sunset, Lexi Thompson got in some lunges during her workout and Mozo and Uribe also got to go on the field (photo) before a San Francisco Giants game.

The Solheim Cup is fast approaching, and next weekend both teams will be finalized and announced live on the Golf Channel. Here’s a look at what the first tee at Colorado Golf Club will likely look like Aug. 16-18. Team USA will sign, of all things, a red, white and blue mixer specially made by KitchenAid USA, and it will be auctioned off at the “Solheim After Sundown” event on Tuesday, Aug. 13.

All eyes will be on Scotland next week as monumental storylines play out, and it’s going to be nothing short of fantastic.

Until next time….

 

Recari joins elite ranks with second win of season

Winning a professional golf tournament is such a difficult task that the majority of players who tee it up never make their way to the winner’s circle during their careers.

So, to realize that dream is a monumental occurrence for a pro, and winning twice in the same season is an even grander feat. Spain’s Beatriz Recari accomplished just that this past weekend in Sylvania, Ohio, when she held off Paula Creamer by a stroke to win the Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning & O-I.

It was the third win of her four-year career and second victory of the 2013 season, along with the Kia Classic in March. The win bumped her up eight spots to 18th in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and put another $195,000 in her bank account.

Recari was thrilled and amazed by her 17-under-par 267 total.

“I still can't believe it, because I was so focused for the last two rounds to just keep cool and just focus on my game,” Recari told the LPGA media staff. “Because like Paula said, she played amazing for two days. It was really a competition. It was like who was going to stick it close and who was going to make a putt.”

The final-round battle between Recari and Creamer could be a preview of a Sunday singles match at the Solheim Cup, set for Aug. 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo. If so, fans are in for a treat, and considering that a number of players who will likely tee it up in the international match play event are playing great golf right now, things will definitely get interesting in mid-August.

One of those players, Lexi Thompson, aced the 180-yard 14th hole en route to a final-round 67 and a tie for third place, and here’s a link to the video of her great shot. Not to be outdone, her brother, Nicholas, finished fourth at the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship in Madison, Miss., to give the family two top-fives on the same day.

Speaking of the Solheim Cup, construction continues at Colorado Golf Club, and here’s a look at where the opening ceremonies will be held. Here’s a shot of the PING Pavilion, which will be located next to the 15th hole.

Karen Stupples served as a guest commentator for the Golf Channel on Saturday after missing the cut and even interviewed world No. 1 Inbee Park, while Natalie Gulbis, Belen Mozo and amateur phenom Lydia Ko posed for a picture with their standard bearer. Here’s a scenic shot of Gulbis teeing off that shows just how pretty Highland Meadows Golf Club is, and Cindy LaCrosse and Vicky Hurst got in some laser tag after their rounds on Saturday.

Sandra Gal enjoyed a Beyonce concert after missing the cut, and Jennie Lee spent some time with friends who drove seven hours to see her play. The LPGA’s Kelly Thesier flew in style to Baltimore with players Gerina Piller, Sarah Jane Smith and I.K. Kim on Sunday to attend a media day for the 2014 International Crown event at the beautiful Caves Valley Golf Club, and Recari made an appearance to promote one of her marketing partners, LTC Worldwide, at Prairie View Golf Club in Indianapolis on Monday at an outing.

Jeong Jang posed for a picture with Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam at the Smuckers Pro-Am at Firestone Country Club on Monday, while Lizette Salas spent some time with sponsor Pure Silk Shave. On the other side of the pond, Cheyenne Woods and Charley Hull were interviewed by BBC News, and Suzann Pettersen enjoyed a boat trip, a visit to Lofoten Links Golf Course and a ride on a horse in Norway.

U.S. Solheim Cup Assistant Captain Dottie Pepper had a new column on ESPNW.com on Tuesday about Phil Mickelson’s win at the British Open. She was there doing TV work for ESPN.

Creamer loved her new pink carbon fiber steering wheel, and Thompson and her father had an interesting visitor in their cart during a round on Tuesday. Michelle Wie spent some quality time in her hammock during the off week, one last chance for players to catch their breath before the RICOH Women’s British Open at The Old Course in Scotland.

It’s going to be an amazing few weeks, and I’m pleased to report that I will be writing nightly blogs for LPGA.com during the Solheim Cup. It’s been a hectic, but great ride as the event’s PR manager, and the next 26 days will be a frantic whirlwind.

Until next time….

 

Sinking putts in O-H-I-O

Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio, is abuzz this weekend as the LPGA is on display before a week off and a trip overseas for a major championship.

We’re halfway through the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning & O-I, and players are going low again. Beatriz Recari and Paula Creamer are tied with first-round leader Alison Walshe at 8-under-par after 36 balmy holes, with world No. 1 Inbee Park just two strokes back. There are a lot of birdies at this golf course, and players should continue to find them over the weekend.

Creamer, who won the tournament in 2008, will be playing in another Solheim Cup (photo) in a few weeks, and she sat next to a poster of herself from one of those incomparable events in the media center on Wednesday. As always, she made time for a young fan on Thursday.

I worked this tournament a couple times when it was called the Jamie Farr Classic, and I always enjoyed the Toledo area, the people and the staff at Highland Meadows. There’s no doubt players are being taken care of this week in Ohio.

Congratulations are in order for reigning Rolex Player of the Year Stacy Lewis, who received her first ESPY award for “Best Female Golfer” on Wednesday night. She was thrilled with the honor and edged Park, Jiyai Shin and Na Yeon Choi for the coveted award.

Wednesday was pro-am day at the tournament, and players had fun mingling with the participants, as always. Danielle Kang wished a happy birthday to her good friend Lizette Salas (here’s a great photo of Salas’ fifth birthday party and another one from her “quinceanera,” her 15th birthday celebration), and Sandra Gal enjoyed a fun night with some golfing pals.

Natalie Gulbis is sporting some new Taylor Made hats this week, and in case you haven’t read about this, here is the LPGA’s report on Cristie Kerr forming a mentoring program with the Duff & Phelps Corporation. Janice Moodie, who will captain the European squad at the PING Junior Solheim Cup, Aug. 12-14, in Englewood, Colo., was playing in Sylvania with a bag from the upcoming tournament.

Mariajo Uribe was stoked to visit Cedar Point amusement park (photo) in nearby Sandusky on Thursday, and U.S. Solheim Cup Captain Meg Mallon chatted with media in the press room on Friday before going on air in the Golf Channel booth. Gulbis posed for a photo with a tournament volunteer, one of many who make this week’s event a success.

Catriona Matthew was in her homeland of Scotland checking out the British Open on Wednesday and gave her fellow players a nice wardrobe tip Thursday, and Australian Jane Crafter is there at Muirfield as well doing some TV work. Here’s a cool article by Golfweek’s Jim McCabe that details Hall of Famer Pat Bradley’s quest for four major victories in the same season, just a few weeks before Park goes for just that at the RICOH Women’s British Open in Scotland.

European Solheim Cup Captain Liselotte Neumann was looking good at the horse races in Del Mar, Calif., while Suzann Pettersen got in some tennis and kayaking in her native Norway. LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann conducted another popular media training session with a number of Symetra Tour players at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord, New Hampshire.

Another week has come and gone, and July is fading into the past. As always, it has been an entertaining and interesting few days, and I’m sure the next lot will be the same.

Until next time….

Crazy weekend north of the border

All eyes were on world No. 1 Inbee Park this past weekend as she chased her fourth consecutive win at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, but it was another Park who reigned supreme in the end.

Propelled by a course-record 10-under 61 in the third round, South Korea’s Hee Young Park finished with a 26-under-par 258 total – which tied the LPGA record for lowest raw score – then defeated American Angela Stanford (photo) on the third playoff hole to earn her second career victory. Hee Young, who birdied four of her final five holes in regulation on Sunday, birdied the par-5 18th all three times in the playoff (and three out of four times in regulation) on her way to earning the $195,000 first-place check.

As for Inbee, she posted four rounds in the 60s and eagled her 72nd hole to finish at -16 and tied for 14th, then signed some autographs for a mob of fans by the 18th green.

It was a birdie-packed weekend that has led to a busy first part of this week as players head to Ohio for the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning and O-I. Speaking of the Toledo area, here’s a nice feature from the Toledo Blade about the LPGA’s recent rejuvenation.

Here’s a look at some highlights from the past few days on Twitter.

So Yeon Ryu wore black on Saturday in honor of the late Ok-Hee Ku – the first South Korean-born woman to win on the LPGA Tour – who passed away on July 10, a fitting tribute to the pioneer. Danielle Kang enjoyed some great hospitality from her host family, while Michelle Wie’s dog, Lola, was sporting a special present given by a tournament volunteer.

Vicky Hurst and Alison Walshe took in the movie “Despicable Me 2” on Saturday, and Lexi Thompson geared up for the final round with a smoothie breakfast on Sunday. Wie sent a shout-out to the fans in Waterloo, who came out in droves to watch the LPGA’s best tee it up.

Jessica Korda and Jodi Ewart were twins on Sunday, while this photo was snapped of Tiffany Joh after she birdied the 10th hole in the final round. Morgan Pressel posed for a picture with some young fans, and Kang checked out the Toronto restaurant “Wayne Gretsky’s” that is owned and operated by the hockey legend.

Brittany Lincicome had a great time playing in the Rockford (Ill.) pro-am on Monday at Forest Hills Country Club, while Natalie Gulbis visited the Hockey Hall of Fame and found a cool advertisement in a sporting goods store in Toronto before relaxing with some kayaking.

Amanda Blumenherst posted this photo of the awesome tee markers at this week’s event, and Ryu (photo), who is the defending champion this week, was thrilled to get some new Footjoys, as was Lizette Salas (photo).

Thompson posted this shot of one of the players’ tasty gifts from the tournament and worked off the calories with a practice session, and Inbee was seen being followed by an ESPN camera crew at Highland Meadows Golf Club on Monday and participated in a sit-down interview with the famed sports channel on Tuesday. Inbee also was part of a conference call with international media to promote the RICOH Women’s British Open on Tuesday, while Wie posted this cool shot of her during her practice round.

Christina Kim, Pressel and Lincicome took part in the Celebrity/Pro Challenge on Tuesday, as did Stacy Lewis, Thompson and Ryu (photo), who also did some Golf Channel interviews for special pieces on Se Ri Pak and Inbee. Gulbis participated in an autograph signing in Toledo, while Thompson posed with her standard bearer and former University of Toledo and current Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (photo).

Cristie Kerr, who is taking this week off, ran into Brooklyn Nets Coach Jason Kidd (photo) and New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck (photo) at a First Tee event at Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City, N.J., on Monday. European Solheim Cup Assistant Captain Annika Sorenstam was busy too, conducting a golf clinic before the Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic in North Lake Tahoe on Monday.

On an unrelated note, Jane Crafter posted this article on Sunday about 17-year-old LET rookie Ariya Jutanugarn – who has five top-five finishes this year on the LPGA Tour – having shoulder surgery and thus ending a great season. It’s a shame because she has a world of talent and can be a big plus for any tour she plays on, and I wish her a speedy recovery.

As I write this, we are exactly one month away from the start of the 2013 Solheim Cup at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, and the anticipation is building fast. In a couple of short weeks, we will know who the team members are (Aug. 4, to be exact), and then the golf world’s eyes will turn here to Colorado.

It’s going to be something else, and I can’t wait.

Until next time….

 

Going south up north

The question this week isn’t if players are going to be under part at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic but how low they’ll go.

Brittany Lang won last year’s event with a 16-under-par total at the par-71 Grey Silo Golf Course, and this year’s leader going into Saturday, Catriona Matthew, has already nearly matched that. Players are simply torching the 6,330-yard layout, with all players in the top 18 posting rounds in the 60s.

Matthew’s 63-64=127 (-15) total is simply silly, and so this weekend’s final two rounds should be a sprint to the finish. Could Annika Sorenstam’s LPGA record 27-under-par total from 2001 be in jeopardy? I won’t go that far, but there’s an outside chance someone could get close.

What is assured is that it’ll be fun to watch them try this weekend on the Golf Channel.

It’s been a busy week north of the border, and Twitter has been abuzz, as usual.

World No. 1 Inbee Park (photo), who is five strokes back after 36 holes and goes by one name on her golf bag, continues to get lots of press, appearing on the cover of The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper. Friday was Park’s 25th birthday, and she no doubt enjoyed herself while celebrating with friends.

Speaking of media, top-ranked American Stacy Lewis was joined by defending champion Lang and Paula Creamer for a press conference in the media center on Wednesday, while their countrywoman Lexi Thompson was all smiles in the pro-am. LPGA Media Coordinator Megan Flanagan even got some press herself, as she appeared in a huge photo in the local paper. It’s always fun to have that occur, especially since us media/PR types often get cropped out of photos.

Alena Sharp picked up a pretty sweet mug at the pro-am party for the tournament on Wednesday night, while Kia Motors America raised $2,500 for Armed Services YMCA’s Operation Hero by auctioning off a pair of Michelle Wie golf bags. AllianzGolf is having a contest giving people a chance to play in the pro-am with Beatriz Recari at the RICOH Women’s British Open in a few weeks, and Natalie Gulbis came through with some water for a thirsty pooch.

Brittany Lincicome and European Assistant Captain Carin Koch re-Tweeted this photo of new Solheim Cup merchandise that’s available at Colorado Golf Club, the site of the 2013 event, Aug. 13-18, in Parker, Colo., and the event’s media center is on its way to completion. Jane Crafter was going over her copious notes prior to Thursday’s telecast, and Thompson spent some time with one of her most dedicated fans and received some great notes of encouragement from a couple of others.

Recari made some new Oakley workout gear look great, and Sorenstam – Liselotte Neumann’s other assistant captain for this year’s Solheim Cup – was enjoying some R&R with family in Hawaii, but also made time to give another golf clinic. Morgan Pressel bought Wie a funny gift, and Wie enjoyed some time with her dog, Lola, at a local dog park in Waterloo.

Here’s a really cool picture of Hall of Famer Amy Alcott looking things over in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, at the site of the golf course that will be the stage for the 2016 Olympic Games. Players, including Thompson, my fellow Auburn Tiger Nicole Hage (photo) and Gulbis (photo) were wearing red on Friday at the tournament in support of heart health, and LPGA rookie Austin Ernst did an interview with CTV after posting a 64 in the second round.

So Yeon Ryu rewarded herself for shooting a four-under 67 on Friday with a post-round workout, just showing how hard LPGA players work on a daily basis. 

On a sad note, Ok-Hee Ku, the first South Korean-born woman to win on the LPGA Tour, passed away at the age of 56 on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack at her home in Japan. Numerous players sent out Tweets about Ku, who the 1988 Standard Register Turquoise Classic, and here is an account of her accomplishments by the Golf Channel.

Here’s what U.S. Solheim Cup Captain Meg Mallon wrote about her on Twitter: “Really sad to hear that Ok-Hee KU passed away today. ‘Cookie’ was a pioneer and great ambassador for Korean players around the world.”

Until next time….

 

A trip north of the border for summer fun

After a week off, the LPGA’s best have headed north to Ontario, Canada, for the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic at the par-71 Grey Silo Golf Course in Waterloo. Brittany Lang won the inaugural event last year after posting four rounds in the 60s, and she may need four more if she is to stop a red-hot Inbee Park, who is going for her fourth straight win.

Park was busy this week, doing this interview with Golf Channel and this one with some Korean media on Tuesday. Considering both Monday qualifiers – Hanna Kang and Min Seo Kwak – each shot four-under 67s, scores should be super low again this year.

Players have been busy with practice rounds and other activities earlier this week, and the weekend was an eventful one. Here are some highlights in this edition of “Twitter Theater.”

On Saturday, Christina Kim was using her Cradlz cell phone holder to record video of her golf swing, a tool she and others swear by as a top-notch aid to helping her evaluate her game. Suzann Pettersen spent some time with her swing coach, while Nicole Hage was driving across the border.

Natalie Gulbis worked on her putting, and Anna Nordqvist enjoyed receiving some cool Puma shoes she designed online. Felicity Johnson tasted some wine by the beach Saturday night, while Lexi Thompson stayed fit thanks to a session with her trainer.

Cristie Kerr, who has her own wine, sipped on a tasty Italian vintage, while Stacy Lewis attended the Detroit Tigers-Cleveland Indians game in Cleveland on Sunday. Beatriz Recari, who won the Kia Classic in March, let the sun in while driving her Cadenza, and So Yeon Ryu took this photo of the Niagara River the same day she visited Niagara Falls.

Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas showed off their golfer’s tans, and Nordqvist finally got her trainer on the golf course to exact some revenge. Brittany Lincicome participated in the Sour Mash Memorial on Monday at Parkersburg Country Club in West Virginia, and Paula Creamer went on a media tour in New York City to promote the RICOH Women’s British Open. Here’s a link to the LPGA’s coverage of her tour.

Gulbis got a workout from paddle boarding on Monday and is preparing for the British Open at St. Andrews by reading this book. Karen Stupples spent part of her day navigating her way through rope bridges, while Michelle Wie was left wondering how she got this mysterious burn on her elbow.

European Solheim Cup Assistant Captain Annika Sorenstam is roughing it in Hawaii this week with her family while promoting the Pacific Links Invitational and performing a clinic there, further proving she’s one of the busiest people in all of golf. The woman just never sits still!

This week’s tournament is the first of three remaining events before this summer’s Solheim Cup, so the heat is on. There is more than just tournament championships that are up for grabs in the next month, and it should help make the summer even hotter.

Let the games begin!

Until next time….

 

Taking a breather to celebrate

With the rapid-fire nature of the past few weeks from an action standpoint, the Fourth of July weekend couldn’t have come at a better time to give players a breather before the summer continues.

There are only three more events where players can earn points for the 2013 Solheim Cup, and so the next month is going to be a nonstop sprint. Can anyone jump into the top eight and secure automatic spots for either team? What drama will unfold in the coming weeks? Can anyone slow down Inbee Park?

Those questions, and more, will be answered shortly, but for now, this week was about players taking a deep breath, exhaling and enjoying the Fourth of July celebration and a week off. That doesn’t mean players were relegated to their couches to catch up on their favorite TV shows though.

As always, they were as busy as a hive of bees.

Vicky Hurst got in a workout on Wednesday, Melissa Reid – a 2011 Solheim Cup participant for Europe – took in a cricket match, and Beatriz Recari enjoyed a smoothie while poolside. Natalie Gulbis, whom Ron Sirak of Golf World revealed is engaged (sorry guys), practiced at the TaylorMade headquarters and tested some new rescue clubs, while Ryann O’Toole played Riviera Country Club.

The Solheim Cup revealed a new Pinterest contest, and Brittany Lincicome was back on the water fishing. Angela Stanford took in a Texas Rangers game, while Jane Park was in my neck of the woods in Colorado Springs enjoying the beauty of Garden of the Gods Park.

Speaking of beauty, Veronica Felibert shared this amazing photo of Caracas, Venezuela, which is enough to make me want to visit there, and Karin Sjodin did some sightseeing in Oklahoma (photo).

There were tons of Fourth of July celebratory Tweets, including this one from Tiffany Joh, this one from Paula Creamer and this one from Lincicome, who had her dogs all ready for the occasion. Hurst got in another workout, this one on the beach, on the Fourth, while Michelle Wie and Christina Kim went on a road trip and enjoyed a night out.

Here’s a cool “throwback” picture of U.S. Solheim Cup Team Captain Meg Mallon playing at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn., in the 2002 Solheim Cup, which I worked and enjoyed immensely. Cristie Kerr was in New York (photo) for the holiday and took a few cool shots of the city readying for a big fireworks show, while Wie had a party to commemorate the holiday.

Lexi Thompson bought a scary amount of fireworks to set off, and this photo posted by Lizette Salas made me feel sorry for her poor dog. Jane Park captured this picture of lightning on Friday in Colorado Springs while playing at The Broadmoor, site of the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open won by So Yeon Ryu.

Next week, the Tour picks back up in Canada for the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic Presented by Blackberry in Waterloo, Ontario, and it should be an interesting event. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the summer unfolds, and I hope everyone gets “Solheim Cup fever” soon, because it’s going to be a heck of a show.

Until next time….


It’s all happening!

By now, the whole world knows all about Inbee Park’s four-shot victory at the U.S. Women’s Open in Southampton, N.Y., on Sunday, and she has deservedly received a monumental amount of media attention after sweeping the LPGA’s first three majors of the year and winning for the sixth time in 13 starts in 2013. 

Park, as she’s been the last two years, was simply amazing at Sebonack Golf Club, becoming the first LPGA player since Hall of Famer Babe Zaharias in 1950 to win the season’s first three major championships (photo). It’s hard, at this point, to say anything about Park that hasn’t already been said, so I’ll just leave it alone for now. The fact that she got to share the moment with her parents was pretty darn cool.

Here’s a link to the LPGA’s coverage of Park’s New York media tour from Monday, which had to be a thrill for her. I overheard Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam remark in a radio interview during Tuesday’s Team Europe media day at Colorado Golf Club for the 2013 Solheim Cup about how impressed she’s been by Park. Sorenstam even went as far as to say she thought the South Korean was “one of the best putters in the world.” 

That’s pretty high praise from “Mrs. 59.”

Mike Scanlan of the LPGA Tweeted out the best quote from Park about her ascension to the No. 1 spot in the world: “It’s scary to think about what I am capable of doing." Yes it is. 

Park will be going for her fourth straight major Aug. 1-4 at the RICOH Women’s British Open, which just happens to be set for the legendary Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. Considering the 2013 Solheim Cup teams will be finalized there, that tournament is going to be nothing short of a zoo-like atmosphere.

Needless to say, it was a very hectic weekend, with lots going on both on and off the golf course. Dottie Pepper, who was at the Open doing TV work for ESPN2, wrote this insightful piece for ESPNW.com about the need for the golfing community to embrace the LPGA as a global tour and the game as a global game. Well done Dottie. 

It was foggy to start the morning on Sunday, but cleared up nicely in order for Park to do her thing, and Golf World’s Ron Sirak snapped this picture of Park and her team getting ready on the driving range before the final round. Paula Creamer’s gallery included one of her cousins, and Brittany Lincicome gave Creamer some props for becoming just the eighth player in LPGA history to cross the $10 million mark in career earnings with her tie for fourth at the Open that netted her more than $127,000.

Michelle Wie recovered from a rough two days and not feeling well at the Open by painting after returning home for some R&R for the mind and body, while former world No. 1 Yani Tseng took in a New York Mets game Sunday afternoon after missing the cut. 

Park was one of only three players to finish under par, proof of how difficult the course was playing. Jane Park, who tied for 42nd and banked more than $15,000 had this to say on Twitter about it: “Thanks to the ‪@USGA I barely have any hair left from the ‪@usopengolf. I've aged about 20 years this week. Incredible test!”

Some lucky fans got Lexi Thompson’s autograph after she finished tied for 13th to earn more than $61,000 on Sunday, while Lincicome snapped this shot of some players taking a pretty neat-looking bus to Baltusrol Golf Club after the end of play. Anna Nordqvist posted this blog on her website about her week and tying for 11th place. 

As I said, Tuesday was media day at Colorado Golf Club in Parker for Team Europe, and we had a great turnout and a fun morning with Captain Liselotte Neumann, Assistant Captain Sorenstam and eight players who are in the running to make the team (photo). They had all been in town to practice and plan for the event, and some of them enjoyed some great Colorado weather one evening after their work was done.

We’re less than two months away from the event, which will be held Aug. 13-18, and construction is well under way at the club. It will be here before we know it, and I can’t wait. 

The captains and players had breakfast on another beautiful morning with about 35 Colorado media members, and Neumann and Sorenstam joined me for an informal press conference before everyone took part in a chipping contest behind the clubhouse. Captains and players did numerous interviews with television, radio and print media, and even participated in a Twitter takeover like the Americans did on June 17.

It was a great day, everyone involved had a good time, and there’s definitely a buzz building for the event. 

In closing, here’s wishing everyone a happy and safe July 4 weekend!

Until next time….


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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