The Social Scene: International Crown edition
Players take to course at inaugural event
You could feel the excitement begin to build for the International Crown at a green and lush Caves Valley Golf Club on Tuesday. I arrived at the course early to get a feel for the tournament grounds and was pleased to discover how jazzed everyone is to be here in Owings Mills, Md., playing for their countries and this amazing trophy.
It’s going to be a heck of a week, and players were already busy peppering the social media sites with photos and posts. Here is a somewhat comprehensive sampling.
The Commish, Mike Whan, is ready, staff was busy getting players’ gear organized, and American Lexi Thompson checked out the course, met some eager young fans and hit the range. Team USA had a lot of fun at an online hangout on Monday night, this is the Republic of Korea’s area in the locker room, and waiters from nearby Sullivan’s Steakhouse made the Koreans feel welcomed on Monday night.
The teams took photos on Tuesday morning, from a complete group shot of all 32 players to individual photos. Here is Sweden, Thailand, Australia and United States, just to show a few. Thompson will have these new Pumas to wear this week and didn’t miss her workout on Tuesday, and Paula Creamer has some new kicks to wear, as well.
Here is the tournament’s virtual magazine, Australia’s team bag, Creamer’s bag, and Beatriz Recari’s patriotic team bag. Some members of Team Spain were among the players who did a live remote interview with Golf Channel, and the media center is ready to go.
Tuesday was LPGA Executive Women’s Day at the course, the LPGA’s Heather Daly-Donofrio took over the Tour’s Social Lounge at the course and answered fans’ questions, and players got dolled up for the tournament’s gala dinner. Republic of Korea team member I.K. Kim is amazingly multitalented and can play the guitar, as everyone learned on “Morning Drive.”
The Tour wrapped up a wonderful week in Ohio on Sunday, with 17-year-old Lydia Ko winning the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning and OI. I felt bad for Laura Diaz, who led or shared the lead after each of the first three rounds, but I’m sure she enjoyed being in the hunt again.
Ko took time to write out her winner’s speech, received praise from tournament staff and volunteers, and became the Tour’s youngest millionaire of all time. ANZ Bank is doing a cool Lydia Ko Challenge that fans can be a part of, which is further proof that the young star has major cache globally.
So Yeon Ryu, who is representing the Republic of Korea this week, finished second after missing this birdie putt to tie on 18, but the good news is she continued her stellar play from this year.
Brooke Pancake’s caddie raced a bear, Creamer was swifter of foot than Thompson and Angela Stanford, and Danielle Kang went Christmas tree shopping a few months early and had a great meal at Hollywood Casino. Creamer saw Lindsey Stirling in concert and bonded with a cute young fan, while Brittany Lincicome’s caddie found a buddy of his own.
Christina Kim made friends as well, a bison got too up close and personal with Jane Park, and Brittany Lang took time to sign autographs. Defending champion Recari had a nice Sunday breakfast, Mariajo Uribe celebrated Colombia’s independence day on Sunday, and Michelle Wie dyed her hair after missing the cut.
Thompson made this girl’s day by giving her a signed golf glove, Morgan Pressel posed for a photo with a young fan, and LPGA players hit the $200,000 mark for donations for the Wounded Warrior project thanks to a slew of eagles in Ohio. Here is a cool article on Cristie Kerr’s balanced life on and off the course.
Elsewhere, Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam played in the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nev., and got to rub shoulders with the likes of NBA star Stephen Curry and got swing advice from Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. Jessica Korda experienced one of the potential perils of traveling and had an interesting night in Sarasota, Fla., while Natalie Gulbis returned to putting and enjoyed some amazing views.
Lizette Salas attended the NCLR annual brunch, Sandra Gal enjoyed a peaceful vacation in Bavaria after a solid finish at the Ladies German Open, and Lincicome was part of a charity outing in West Virginia on Monday. Suzann Pettersen got to share some time with legend Gary Player on Monday, Angela Stanford completed her tour of all of Major League Baseball’s ballparks, Sophie Gustafson took a “selfie” in Prague and Kang and Lizette Salas did a pottery class.
There’s never a dull moment when it comes to the LPGA and its players, and this week is a huge example of that.
Until next time….
Birdie-fest heats up in Ohio
The scoreboard workers at the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning & OI may need to track down some more red numbers after the first two rounds.
LPGA players are torching the par-71, 6,512-yard Highland Meadows Golf Club again this year, collecting birdies as quick as they can in the $1.4 million event. Laura Diaz carded a career-low 62 on Thursday after posting nine birdies and no bogeys, and she holds a three-stroke advantage at 11-under heading into the weekend.
Lydia Ko is in the mix at 8-under along with Lee-Anne Pace after consecutive 67s, while Rebecca Lee-Bentham and So Yeon Ryu are at 7-under. Anyone within 10 strokes of the lead has a chance to become a factor over the weekend, so the final 36 holes should be a compelling sprint to the finish.
RICOH Women’s British Open champion Mo Martin has continued her stellar play and is at 4-under heading into the weekend. Here’s a very cool video chronicling the LPGA’s third major of the season, and here is a photo of Martin being interviewed for Golf Channel by Hall of Famer Juli Inkster.
It has been a busy week in Ohio, especially in the social media realm. On Wednesday, Michelle Wie did a takeover of the LPGA’s Instagram account, and it was a big hit.
Wie was at it early on a beautiful Wednesday morning in preparation for the tournament’s pro-am, hung out with members of the National Women’s Football League at the turn and goofed off with good friend Christina Kim. Lexi Thompson posted this shot of her with her group and this one of her meeting some pint-sized fans, this picture of Wie shows the cool tee markers at this week’s event, and this post shows the amount of media covering the tournament.
Defending champion Beatriz Recari has a street named after her in Sylvania, Ryu didn’t get the memo about which shirt to wear in the pro-am, and Wie won the Kia Most Compelling Award for June and also won the ESPY for Best Female Golfer on Wednesday night and celebrated by chowing down on some ribs. Ryann O’Toole made these girls’ day, the Toledo Blade published this article about Paula Creamer, and the crowds were quite large on Thursday.
World No. 1 Stacy Lewis got her picture taken with NASCAR legend Richard Petty, Cristie Kerr tossed her golf ball to a fan after acing the sixth hole on Thursday, Kristy McPherson relaxed on Friday after making the cut at 3-under, and here’s a close-up view of this week’s tee markers. Brittany Lincicome took in a Toledo Mud Hens baseball game Thursday night, Jane Park recovered from a tough day on the course with some sushi, and this week’s tournament got a visit from a famous bovine, who made friends with Brittany Lang.
Elsewhere, Suzann Pettersen enjoyed a relaxing day at the course with friends, Mechelle Voepel wrote this nice piece on Mo Martin for ESPNW, and Sandra Gal found a furry friend at the Ladies European Tour’s German Ladies Open in her home country. Natalie Gulbis enjoyed spending the week in California, Lizette Salas continued her decorating projects at home and got some cool gifts for her birthday on Thursday, Jessica Korda finished a trip to Prague and enjoyed a snack while watching The Open Championship and Anna Nordqvist teed it up back home in beautiful Sweden. Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam was back in action this week playing with the men in the American Century Celebrity Golf Challenge.
Also, the Ice Bucket Challenge has made it to the big time. Pretty cool stuff.
Until next time….
Plenty of action in Ohio this week for LPGA players
Martin was the subject of one of the pre-tournament press conferences for the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning and OI, and the golf world is still talking about her amazing shot (photo) on 18 that set up an eagle putt. Martin is extremely well-liked on Tour and is known for her positive attitude, fun-loving personality and quick smile, so dozens of players like MariaJo Uribe were overjoyed to see her win.
Martin was a much sought-after photo subject and received a great deal of media coverage for her win, both early in the week and on Sunday. Ron Sirak of Golf World wrote about Charley Hull shooting a 66 in the third round to get into contention.
World No. 1 Stacy Lewis returns to Toledo, where she was born, holding the top ranking, and she should have a strong gallery this week. Before looking ahead to this weekend, there is plenty to report from the weekend that was in England.
Players were busy on social media, and they helped chronicle history along the way.
It was a heck of a weekend for the Tour, with 2015 European Solheim Cup Captain Carin Koch making an appearance with the Cup, talented photographer Tristan Jones got this shot of Brittany Lang hitting out of one of Royal Birkdale’s many bunkers, and Inbee Park celebrated her birthday on Saturday by taking the 54-hole lead before coming up just short of completing a career Grand Slam on Sunday.
Paula Creamer made time for fans, as she always does, LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann attended the tournament’s partner dinner on Saturday night, and some of the event’s female media received some pampering. Michelle Wie dealt with missing the cut by going to London with friends for some fun and an Eminem concert, while the Mobile Weather Team was busy measuring wind gusts at the tournament on Sunday.
Kristy McPherson wore her golf shoes to watch the final round, Anna Nordqvist talked about the grind of playing in the wind in this Tweet, and Jessica Korda chronicled her gritty week on social media as well. Creamer used Flipagram to do the same, a determined Lexi Thompson even practiced in her hotel room after the final round, and Korda traveled with a gift bag courtesy of IMG Golf.
Danielle Kang is working to get to her father’s level with one-handed push-ups, Creamer made the trek back to the States, and Wie read a book to help pass the time when not snapping amazing photos from the air like this. Sandra Gal found some inspiration at a gym in Munich, Germany, Kang and Mina Harigae confirmed yet again that they are just plain weird, and Korda did some sightseeing in Prague.
Lang returned to the gym on Tuesday to shake off the cobwebs from a long flight and relaxed thanks to this view from where she’s staying for the week, and Cristie Kerr was proud to announce a new partnership, was included in this Forbes article and also posted a new blog for the Baltimore Sun. Uribe loves her new golf shoes, Harigae helped Kang out in a pinch, and Wie had fun with Christina Kim during a practice round.
In other corners of the globe, Natalie Gulbis hit the gym to continue her comeback from a wrist injury on Sunday and has some new golf bags to get in the mix. Here’s hoping she is able to return to action soon.
Until next time….
Martin leads RICOH Women’s British Open at midway point
Third-year pro Mo Martin may be ranked just inside the top 100, but she’s been No. 1 through 36 holes at the RICOH Women’s British Open.
No one has navigated Royal Birkdale Golf Club and its narrow fairways better than Martin so far, and her 6-under 138 total is three strokes clear of Beatriz Recari (photo) and So Yeon Ryu heading into the final two rounds. The 31-year-old American will have to remain in top form this weekend if she is to earn her first career victory, and it will all play out on ESPN2.
Martin has just one top-10 in her LPGA career, so it would be a great story if she was to hold on down the stretch. Plently of other players would love to write their own dream scenario, and there are numerous golfers with a fighting chance heading into the weekend.
Ayako Uehara led after the first round thanks to a 4-under 68, but shot a 79 on Friday to fall out of contention. Here’s a beautiful picture of her hitting an approach shot.
Players have thoroughly enjoyed their time at the scenic locale, and there have been plenty of social media posts to prove it. On Wednesday, Paula Creamer and Charley Hull were part of the tournament’s announcement that next year’s Open will take place at Woburn Golf Club, which is good news for the LPGA.
Creamer found the deep weeds during the first round, 2015 European Solheim Cup Captain Carin Koch is at the tournament and talked with Lady Golfer Magazine, and Dottie Pepper has been working with Hall of Famer Judy Rankin and Tom Rinaldi on ESPN2’s coverage of the tournament. The weather has been pretty spectacular this week, especially for a Women’s British Open, and players no doubt are enjoying that rarity.
Michelle Wie has struggled with the course this week, causing her to post this comical description of her feelings, Danielle Kang did a YouTube promo video for the LPGA’s social media reach for fans, Christina Kim gave out some props to Georgia Hall on Twitter, and this sunset helped Sandra Gal deal with missing the cut. Here is a great photo of Ryu hitting out of a Royal Birkdale bunker, while Alena Sharp captured this early morning scenic shot.
In the media world, longtime New York Daily News writer Hank Gola wrote this piece about Wie, Golf World’s Ron Sirak got some great insight from Dame Laura Davies, and this big news came out about Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam playing in a men’s celebrity event. The Global Golf Post Daily had some RICOH coverage in it this week, and rightly so, and Alistair Tait wrote this nice Golfweek article about Karen Stupples playing in her final RICOH Women’s British Open.
And that’s just part of one week on the LPGA Tour! Gotta love it!
Until next time….
LPGA players getting ‘Royal’ treatment in England
The mystique and majesty of the RICOH Women’s British Open is upon us, and LPGA stars are ready and raring to go in England.
Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, Lancashire, sets a stellar stage for 72 holes of links golf this week, and the top female golfers on the planet are primed and eager to chase after the LPGA’s third major of the season. They have enjoyed themselves in the UK while preparing for what awaits on Thursday, and social media has been all a flurry as a result.
Scotland’s Catriona Matthew participated in the Queen’s Baton Relay on Saturday, Paula Creamer was one of a number of players who took to the skies on the way to the tournament, and Christina Kim enjoyed this awesome view from the Dales while on a sightseeing trip. Sandra Gal arrived on Saturday, Angela Stanford took in a Mets’ baseball game, and Rebecca Lee-Bentham did a rock climbing workout.
Jenny Shin picked up her courtesy car, Michelle Wie said hi to England, and Tiffany Joh captured this shot of Austin Ernst and Brooke Pancake dealing with jet lag. Beatriz Recari was part of the Allianz Golf Camp at St. Andrews over the weekend, Gal had great weather during a Sunday practice round, and Danielle Kang found the driving range along with Lexi Thompson (video).
Wie was practicing her unmistakable putting stroke at Royal Birkdale on Sunday and did her best Dr. Who impression with friends, World War II buff Dottie Pepper did some historical sightseeing, and Cristie Kerr wrote a guest column on international competition for the Baltimore Sun. The television trucks arrived on Monday, Mariajo Uribe took this cool shot of herself in front of the tournament’s big board, and Kristy McPherson enjoyed a burrito brought all the way from New Mexico and found an interesting statue outside the hotel.
Anna Nordqvist’s photos show just how scenic this week’s course is, Wie played the role of spectator during the Monday qualifier, and this is a photo you don’t see every day. Golf World’s Ron Sirak shared this great scenic photo, Kang showed off her flexibility, and Karen Stupples stopped by Sky Sports’ Shot Centre to give some tips.
Fans can still vote for Creamer’s 75-foot putt to win HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore as “Best Play” in this year’s ESPY awards, Jessica Korda teed off near an IMG Golf banner, and defending champion Stacy Lewis talked about her 2013 triumph in the media center on Tuesday. Wie was there for a press conference of her own, Brittany Lang posted photos like this, this and this one of Southport, and Sirak wrote this piece about Wie and Lewis.
Thompson and her pro-am group won Tuesday’s event, photographer extraordinaire Tristan Jones snapped this sweet shot of Carlota Ciganda teeing off on the first tee, and Pancake visited a famous pub in Liverpool. Kang and Creamer modeled some interesting hoodies, ESPN aired this fabulous and insightful video piece by Gene Wojciechowski with Wie in preparation of televising the tournament, and Dame Laura Davies and Sophie Gustafson are now members at Royal Birkdale.
In other news, legend Arnold Palmer kicked off the countdown for the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open since he is serving as the event’s honorary chairman, and fellow Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam spoke eloquently about what it means to her to have her name on the Rolex Annika Major Award. Pretty cool stuff there.
Until next time….
Festive week off for LPGA players
As everyone across the country gathered together with loved ones and friends, fired up the barbecue grills and basked in the patriotic glow of fireworks, LPGA players did so while enjoying a week off from competition before turning their attention to the third major of the year.
Here’s a look at some of the social media highlights from the last few days.
Karin Sjodin shared this amazing scenic shot, So Yeon Ryu did some pilates at this gym on Wednesday, and the LPGA posted this great story about Nicole Castrale’s outside-the-ropes hero. Amanda Blumenherst had this great view from the ballpark in Detroit on Wednesday and this one from Oakland on Thursday, 2015 European Solheim Cup Captain Carin Koch played 18 holes with Women & Golf magazine, and Lexi Thompson played in the rain and wore this Puma gear to the gym.
Hall of Famer Karrie Webb teed it up with some lucky guys, Kristy McPherson has plenty of new, white shoes to use, and Michelle Wie lost a doggie paddle race…to an actual dog. Wie enjoyed her pool time after a practice session on Wednesday, Alena Sharp had a furry practice buddy, and MariaJo Uribe sipped some fine wine.
Lizette Salas added some living room décor, Brittany Lincicome experimented with science at home, and Brittany Lang got some help from her pooch while putting. Nicole Hage was part of a Lexus photo shoot, Felicity Johnson was in England doing some sightseeing, and Wie gave a master class as part of her role as Youth Olympics ambassador.
Wie also practiced hitting low shots with her driver in preparation for next week’s RICOH Women’s British Open, Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam had a healthy breakfast on Thursday, and Lydia Ko showed wisdom beyond her years in this article on GolfWRX.com. Gulbis got her mother some new Taylor Made clubs, Jessica Korda loves her new Adidas kicks and had one last practice session in the U.S. before heading overseas, and Christina Kim enjoyed a nice drive through the English countryside.
Gulbis sold fireworks on Thursday to benefit the Las Vegas-area Boys & Girls Club she’s associated with, Mina Harigae caught some video of a wicked dust storm, and Vicky Hurst was part of a beach training session. Danielle Kang had fun at a night range practice session, Wie practiced a bit on the Fourth of July, and players like Gulbis posted photos like this one to celebrate the special holiday.
Salas went on an Independence Day hike with Kang and others, Suzann Pettersen did this interview for the “GW My Best Shot” series, and Na Yeon Choi played golf with her caddie at Royal Portrush. Wie set off some fireworks, as did Paula Creamer, while Gulbis stuck to sparklers.
The “Ice Bucket Challenge” continued with Sandra Gal (video), Becky Morgan (video), Kim (video), Blair O’Neal (video), and Charley Hull and Camilla Lennarth. Mo Martin upped the ante, McPherson added a dive to her challenge, and Salas had some help from above to complete her challenge.
Lang did the challenge and called out LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan – who may or may not have been aware he was challenged – Jane Park stepped up as well, and Lincicome completed it in the dark. Koch upstaged everyone by using the actual Solheim Cup to finish the challenge,
The Tour’s great news continued on Thursday, when Shanshan Feng attended an announcement in Beijing about a purse increase to $2.1 million for the Reignwood LPGA Classic. The defending champion helped kick off the tournament’s second year in style.
Next week, everything intensifies a bit as the Tour hosts its third of five majors of 2014 with a stop in England. It should be a heck of a week!
Until next time….
Plenty of activity for Tour players during week off
Stacy Lewis’ victory at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G on Sunday was the latest in a long line of awesome storylines the Tour has enjoyed in 2014.
As the players catch their breath with some time off this week before heading to the RICOH Women’s British Open, where Lewis is the defending champ, they have been active in a number of pursuits. Here’s a sampling of what’s been going on, as well as a look back to last weekend, in the latest installment of “Twitter Theater.”
Over the weekend, Natalie Gulbis did an autograph signing for her sponsor Michelob Ultra before catching a Dierks Bentley concert with family and friends, Hall of Famer Juli Inkster was at the same concert, and so was Karen Stupples and Becky Morgan (photo). Brittany Lang found some short fans for a picture pose, Brittany Lincicome also made time for fans, and so did Morgan Pressel.
The second round had to be completed on Sunday morning due to rain, with Michelle Wie holding the 36-hole lead and sharing her success with her standard bearer via a fist bump and a young fan with a low-five. Wie shot a 73 on Sunday, while Lewis’ seven-footer for birdie on the final hole gave her a 65, her 11th career LPGA victory and helped her avoid a playoff.
The lovely So Yeon Ryu celebrated her birthday on Sunday by shooting a 2-under 69 to finish fifth, Lexi Thompson put in some time on the range after missing the cut, and Wie flew home in style. Lydia Ko made some new friends in Arkansas, Danielle Kang learned how to ride a Vespa scooter, Sandra Gal signed autographs during the tournament, and Wie turned to painting to help her battle insomnia on Sunday night.
Players participated in the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” in which they dared each other to douse themselves with ice-cold water in a 24-hour period or pay $100 to the other’s favorite charity. Jessica Korda took Wie up on her challenge, Lewis gave in to Wie’s challenge and then threw down the gauntlet for Ko (who did it) and Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, who also did it and then challenged Sarah Kemp and Inkster.
Korda called out Suzann Pettersen, who did her duty and then turned the focus to Paula Creamer, who obliged her and called out Laura Davies, Pressel and Justin Rose. Although it was a small “bucket,” Thompson completed the challenge as well and turned her sights on Austin Ernst and Jaye Marie Green, while Jennie Lee was up to the challenge of Jodi Ewart.
Ryu found a healthy airport breakfast on Monday morning and a tasty snack later that day, Gulbis visited Winged Foot Golf Club in New York, and Wie spent some time at the pool. Pressel is auctioning off a signed golf bag, Mariajo Uribe can practice in her back yard, and Alena Sharp was thrilled to help the Wounded Warrior project and get this nice pin flag for recording two eagles in Arkansas.
Creamer didn’t play in Arkansas, so she had time to demonstrate how she prepares to lay out by the pool. Fans can vote for Wie as Sports Woman of the Month on SkySports.com by going here, and Yani Tseng had fun hosting the Yani Tseng Invitational Presented by the Swinging Skirts on Tuesday, an AJGA event enjoyed by all.
Creamer was training hard on Monday, Wie enjoyed some R&R on the beach with her dog when she wasn’t busy filming a piece with ESPN that included a look at some of her artwork, and Lang was in Branson, Mo., to take in views like this and enjoy a fish pond at a special golf course, visit the in-laws and do some fishing and take in a concert with her hubby.
Pressel did this LPGA player spotlight video and talked about how to eat gluten-free, while Wie got some sweet patriotic Nikes just in time for the Fourth of July and wore a soccer jersey while watching the USA take on Belgium in the World Cup on Tuesday. Fans can vote for Creamer’s 75-foot putt from earlier this year for an ESPY, and Lee enjoyed some new Cutter & Buck clothing.
If this is any indication how the off week is going, next week’s major championship week in England should be a hoot!
Until next time….
Neal Reid is a full-time freelance writer based in Colorado Springs, Colo., who just spent nine weeks covering the Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, as a sports writer for the Olympic News Service. The Auburn University graduate spent six years as an LPGA media relations coordinator from 1998-2004. Follow him on Twitter @NealReid21.
Topics: Social Scene