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The Social Scene With Neal Reid

August 30 2014, Neal Reid

Kim keeping momentum going for South Korea

So far at this year’s Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions, it looks as if South Korean-born players may just extend their LPGA winning streak to four consecutive tournaments.

Three-time tournament champion I.K. Kim has been sensational so far, finishing 36 holes at 12-under-par. She holds a three-stroke lead over countrywoman Mi Jung Hur, Carlota Ciganda (photo) and Laura Diaz heading into the weekend.

Players have feasted on birdie chances at Columbia Edgewater Country Club, with 55 of them finishing the first two rounds under par. Stars like So Yeon Ryu, who won last week, defending champion Suzann Pettersen, Hall of Famer Juli Inkster and two-time 2014 winner Anna Nordqvist are within six shots of Kim’s lead, and anything could happen on the weekend.

In the social media world, players showed off some special green tees on Wednesday, Danielle Kang took over the LPGA’s Facebook page, and Pettersen gave away a signed golf bag and shirt on Twitter after giving out clues that it was hidden here. Jeong Jang has a new towel this week, and some former USC Trojans shared a snack.

Karin Sjodin explored the amazingly beautiful Mt. Hood on Wednesday, LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann enjoyed this view of downtown at dinner, and Kang asked fans’ help in picking out her Thursday outfit. Players and fans were treated to some great food carts on the driving range on Thursday, LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan did an interview with a local radio station, and Karen Stupples gave fans some short-game tips in Portland when she wasn’t working on the Golf Channel telecast.

Ryu had the honor of receiving a letter from the great Arnold Palmer, Jane Crafter captured the natural beauty of Columbia Edgewater, and Tiffany Joh made some new friends. Morgan Pressel thanked a local golf team for raising money for Cristie Kerr’s Birdies for Breast Cancer charity, Brittany Lang and her family stocked up on sneakers in a big way, and Ryu, Kim and Na Yeon Choi enjoyed dinner together on Friday night.

Jang and Hee Won Han both announced that they are retiring after this week’s tournament, and they will be missed. They have been great representatives of the Tour for many years.

Elsewhere, Michelle Wie received a special gift from her sponsor Nike, was excited to get back on the putting green with some new headphones and created another interesting painting. Natalie Gulbis is making her return from a hip injury next week in Norway and practiced on Wednesday before paddle boarding on Thursday, while Dottie Pepper is still on the mend from surgery and Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam caught up on fan mail.

Brittany Lincicome fed her passion for fishing on Thursday and had some success before teeing it up with her man on Friday, Wie learned she has a reserved parking space at Nike Headquarters, and Jessica Korda tried out her culinary skills by making soup. Lexi Thompson got in an afternoon practice session on Wednesday, while Gulbis wished comedienne Joan Rivers the best and has a personal connection with the comedy legend.

In other tournament news, Jean Bartholomew won the LPGA T&CP National Championship for the fourth time, while Emily Tubert claimed medalist honors at the first stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament in Rancho Mirage, Calif. It sure has been a busy week for women’s professional golf!

Until next time….

Players enjoying clean air, hospitality in Portland after Ryu’s Canadian triumph

It was a busy and exciting weekend for LPGA players, with So Yeon Ryu making it three consecutive tournament wins for South Korean-born players.

She posted an impressive 23-under-par total in winning the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in London, Ontario, Canada, and even flirted with the LPGA scoring record of 27-under in the process. Countrywomen Na Yeon Choi and Inbee Park – both former world No. 1s – were second (21-under) and third (18-under), respectively.

It was Ryu’s third career LPGA victory and first since 2012 and had her flashing her 1,000-watt smile on the 18th green. She is a very popular and friendly player, so there was no shortage of pros who were happy for Ryu’s success.

In the social media world, a fan chronicled Sandra Gal’s play, and the same fan also watched Brittany Lincicome navigate her way around the course. Beatriz Recari practiced on Sunday after missing the cut, Paula Creamer kept up her great habit of giving fans a thrill, and the tournament raised a pile of money for heart health initiatives while players also helped raise more money for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Lincicome posed for a photo with fans, Mariajo Uribe Tweeted about enjoying her tournament experience, and four players sank holes-in-one at the London Hunt and Country Club. Brittany Lang shared a cute note she received from a young golf fan, Brooke Pancake had time to bake cookies on Sunday after missing the cut, and Danielle Kang’s brother surprised her with a visit and saw her tie for fifth.

Jennifer Song stocked up on greasy comfort food at Five Guys on Monday, this week’s tournament, the Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions, released this very cool spectator guide and has an array of fan-friendly activities lined up for the week. Uribe admired one of her pro-am partner’s old-school wood, Lexi Thompson showed off the results of her rigid workout regimen, and Lincicome and Lang used their golf bags as extra security in their hotel room.

Yani Tseng had fun with her pro-am group on Tuesday, it was like Christmas for Ryu when she got to her locker at Columbia Edgewater Country Club, and Anna Nordqvist did some shopping in Portland at the Adidas store. Gal took a photo with the course’s crew and superintendent and played an early practice round, Lang was impressed by her host family’s back yard, and LPGA players signed autographs on Snapchat.

This week also meant the beginning of the 2014 Q-School at the beautiful Mission Hills Country Club in Palm Springs, Calif., while Ryu will take over the LPGA’s Instagram account on Wednesday and Suzann Pettersen is happy to be back in Portland as the defending champion.

In other locales, Michelle Wie caught some air during a Nike photo shoot, did some painting and even recorded some video of her at work, 2015 European Solheim Cup Captain Carin Koch has some sharp-looking new woods, and the Republic of Korea won the golf competition at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam received quite a bit of fan mail from players thanking her for hosting the Annika Invitational Europe, while Dottie Pepper got a patriotic cast cover from a friend and Michelle McGann was with Ernie Els on Monday to raise money for autism charities.

Azahara Munoz conducted a golf clinic for youngsters at the International Junior Golf Academy in South Carolina on Tuesday, and this article highlights some great news for women’s sports.

Congratulations are in order for three-time Symetra Tour winner Marissa Steen, who was promoted to the LPGA Tour this week. That’s quite an honor for the talented future star.

Until next time….

Talent on display during Canadian birdie barrage

Simply put, So Yeon Ryu has been playing out of her mind this week.

The two-time LPGA winner from South Korea has dropped 15 birdies against no bogeys at London Hunt and Country Club (photo) in the first two rounds of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open and gleefully carries a five-stroke advantage into the weekend. Danielle Kang, Anna Nordqvist and Na Yeon Choi are tied for second, and the cut was 88 players at 1-under-par after two days of a virtual birdiefest.

Lydia Ko is the two-time defending champion this week, but will have to erase a 10-stroke deficit on the weekend if she wants to accomplish the three-peat. Ten players are within seven strokes of Ryu’s lead, but she is certainly in the driver’s seat going into Saturday’s play.

LPGA stars have enjoyed themselves North of the border this week, and that has been evident on social media. Jessica Korda and a young fan showed their support for the tournament’s official charity, LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann gave props to the event’s branding promotions, and did another installment of “Caddie Knows Best” with Belen Mozo and her brother, Jesus, who caddies for her.

Every week, the photos prove that kids love Paula Creamer, and this week is no different. Speaking of kids, Nordqvist turned the reins over to this young golfer on the 17th hole during Wednesday’s pro-am and even caddied for her, while Lexi Thompson found some cool “short people” to hang out with as well.

Creamer has a special marker on each of her Bridgestone golf balls and made this little girl’s day on Wednesday, Brooke Pancake dressed patriotically on Thursday, and Thompson had an awesome group of fans spurring her on. Jane Park got on the train at the tournament with a pair of young fans, Creamer helped Brittany Lang celebrate her birthday on Friday, and Lang received an interesting present from her father and husband.

Korda’s round on Friday included a hole in one, and Lang had fun with friends at the tournament’s dinner on Friday night, where they were treated to a performance by the band Barenaked Ladies. Players loved the night, and it was definitely a special perk of teeing it up this week.

Elsewhere, Michelle Wie continued a relaxing rehab time by attending the “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” movie premiere on Wednesday night at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, where she ran into singer Michael Bolton and had a blast mingling with new friends. Nicole Castrale got some workout help from a young smiling face, and 2015 European Solheim Cup Captain Carin Koch was enjoying this amazing weather in Arizona.

Natalie Gulbis continues to work hard while rehabbing her injured hip, Wie went shopping and had fun after a Nike photo shoot, and this First Tee location used Dottie Pepper’s new Bogey Ballton book to teach kids about the pitfalls of bullying. Pepper is one of the busiest people in golf, but will be slowed for a while after undergoing surgery, and Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam received a special gift from junior golfers.

After a great start to the week, I can’t wait to see what the weekend brings.

Until next time….

Tour buzzing in Canada week after major

With a par putt on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff at last week’s Wegmans LPGA Championship, Inbee Park thrust herself back in the Rolex Player of the Year race.

Her win over Brittany Lincicome was Park’s 11th career LPGA title and fifth major, and it pulled her to within 40 points, 200-160, of Stacy Lewis’ lead for Player of the Year. Park moved to the No. 2 spot in the Rolex Women’s Golf World Rankings behind Lewis, took home this impressive trophy and has multiple tournament victories for yet another season.

Although she’s won five majors before the age of 27, the always humble Park was quick to note she doesn’t think she is yet comparable to the legends of the game.

“I really don’t think I’m as good as Annika (Sorenstam) or Lorena (Ochoa),” Park told the LPGA. “It’s really hard to compare with them. Probably just the major numbers I think (people) were trying to compare. But I still need to win about 15 more tournaments to actually be really close to them.”

All in all, it was a hectic and emotional weekend as players and the Tour said goodbye (for now) and thank you to the Rochester, N.Y., area after 38 years. Here is a cool time-lapse video of the first tee at Wegmans, Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist had some strong fan support, and Karen Stupples shared this photo of Golf Channel’s operation.

Suzann Pettersen had a great Saturday to get into contention and was flogged by local media, Gerina Piller played well while her husband, Martin, won the Tour event, and Karin Sjodin found some tasty desserts to munch on. Players had to deal with some rain on Saturday, Beth Ann Nichols of Golfweek wrote this nice piece on Lincicome, and Meaghan Francella – who will be a bridesmaid in Paula Creamer’s wedding – stepped in to caddie for Creamer when her regular caddie, Colin Kann, injured himself during the second round.

Creamer’s cuts-made streak in majors came to an end, but she recovered with a road trip with her fiancée, while Nicole Castrale finished a great week working for Golf Channel and Stupples found some tailgaters on the course. Fans got to enjoy some Scottish pipes on Sunday, Danielle Kang bid adieu to a good friend, and Sandra Gal did the same.

My friend Dottie Pepper celebrated a birthday on Sunday after being at the tournament to promote her new Bogey Ballton children’s book, so happy belated birthday Dottie!

Meanwhile, the LPGA Communications staff and Golf Channel staffers got together for dinner in Florida, and Sorenstam and hubby, Mike McGee, got dressed up for a friend’s wedding.

Players have been gearing up for the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this week, and the event should be quite a shootout. Several players are in top form, so 17-year-old Lydia Ko (photo) will have a tough three-peat attempt on her hands come Thursday.

As always, LPGA players have been social butterflies this week North of the border, and here are some highlights.

Park was on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” program on Monday morning from the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open press room, Lexi Thompson turned to one of her sponsor’s products to give her a jumpstart to the week, and Beatriz Recari has a special golf ball to commemorate Spain’s victory at the inaugural International Crown. An early morning workout was in order for Brittany Lang before heading to Canada on Monday, Jessica Korda drove over the border and visited Niagara Falls on the way to the tournament, as did Julieta Granada and her mom and Jane Park (photo).

Recari is trying out a new putter this week, So Yeon Ryu and Creamer worked out together, and Alena Sharp’s pro-am group went low and had a blast on Monday. Lincicome enjoyed a practice round with Pure Silk Shave buddies Laura Diaz and Kathleen Ekey on Tuesday, Morgan Pressel hosted a golf clinic, and Nordqvist got a look at London Hunt and Country Club.

Thompson spent some time on Tuesday working with junior golfers, Lincicome found friends at the pro-am party, and Lang checked out some free gifts from one of the tournament sponsors.

Elsewhere, Natalie Gulbis caught this awesome sunrise in Las Vegas before practicing alongside the PGA Tour’s Ryan Moore and hanging out with kids from the local Boys & Girls Club, Mariajo Uribe spent Monday in awesome New York City, and Michelle Wie ran a mile and recovered with treatment on her left knee before seeing John Legend in concert and meeting the talented entertainer.

On a personal note, I worked tournaments in the Rochester area at least three years in a row and always loved going there. Just like the players, I sincerely hope the Tour is able to return there with a full-field event soon.

I have a number of friends I got to know at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, this year who are working the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, right now, and I was excited to see that golf is part of the sport lineup. That should give us a hint at what golf will be like at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Brazil, so I’ll be watching closely.

The Tour kept its good news trend going this week with the announcement that the LPGA has reached an agreement with LOTTE to extend its title sponsorship of the LPGA LOTTE Championship in Hawaii for three more years. That’s great for the Tour!

Until next time….


Halfway home at Tour’s fourth major

We’re 36 holes into the LPGA’s fourth of five majors, and it’s been an interesting couple of days.

The affable Brittany Lincicome has been stellar so far, posting rounds of 67 and 68 to lead the way at the Wegmans LPGA Championship at 9-under-par through two rounds. Former world No. 1 and defending champion Inbee Park, who carded a 66 on Friday, is three strokes back at 6-under along with the winner of the first major of 2014, Lexi Thompson.

Lincicome is a five-time LPGA champion, so she certainly knows how to win, but she is in search of her first major title. There are a total of 11 players within five shots of Lincicome’s lead at the picturesque Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, N.Y., so it will be thrilling to see if her nerves and golf game hold up down the stretch.

This is the LPGA’s 38th and final year, for now at least, in the Rochester area, and players have been enjoying their time in New York this week. As always, crowds have been good and players have been very active on social media.

Here’s another look at the tournament’s creative tee markers, which are just great, and 17-time LPGA champ Dottie Pepper was in town to promote the release of her highly popular third Bogey Ballton (photo) book (see my feature from Friday for more information on this). Sandra Gal showed good form in Wednesday’s pro-am, Jane Park visited nearby Oak Hill Country Club (photo) – which I’ve had the pleasure of playing – while Brooke Pancake did a Facebook takeover of the LPGA’s account to answer questions from fans on Wednesday.

Players have been taking “selfies” with fans this week as part of an LPGA contest, Cristie Kerr received a special golf ball from a fan, and Paula Creamer had a couple dedicated fans wish her a belated birthday. Here is a great article from the newshound Randall Mell of about RICOH Women’s British Open champion Mo Martin replacing her grandfather’s roof, and Lisa Mickey penned this piece about Martin for the New York Times.

Thompson took this cool selfie, received some gifts from fans and has some healthy snacks to take out on the course. Brittany Lang enjoyed her Wegmans goodie bag, Christina Kim compared pigtails with a teen golfer, and Felicity Johnson has a cool new yardage book cover. As an Auburn man, it pains me to post this photo, but Pancake has some new University of Alabama-themed wedges, while Laura Diaz and family enjoyed a visit to Pittsford Farms.

Anna Nordqvist can now relive the glory from her two wins from this season thanks to this special gift from a fan, Mariajo Uribe made an impression on these fans, and Kristy McPherson has some new socks to wear. Sophie Gustafson has some uniquely marked golf balls for this week’s event, Jessica Korda had all of her gear ready for round one, and Lizette Salas is back in action this week after being out since June 29 with a back injury.

Here is a touching piece about Tour players remembering former player and Auburn star and coach Danielle Downey, this week’s event has a great manual leaderboard run by a group of dedicated volunteers, and Pancake has bonded with this loyal fan this week. USA Today’s Steve DiMeglio wrote this insightful piece about former world No. 1 Yani Tseng, and I, for one, hope she’s able to regain her top form again soon.

Meanwhile, the Legends Tour is at the beautiful French Lick (Ind.) Resort this week, where Nancy Lopez and Jane Blalock joined the Legends Tour Hall of Fame, Natalie Gulbis continued her range work as she returns from a hip injury, and Michelle Wie had fun with friends at Disneyland and got to meet Conan O’Brien while attending a taping of his show while resting her injured finger. Nicole Castrale (photo) had a lot of prep work to do to get ready to co-host Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” program,

On a down note, Creamer’s streak of 39 consecutive cuts made in majors as a pro ended this week after she shot 73-77 in the first two rounds. That’s one heck of a streak for the talented American!

Until next time….

Rochester sets grand stage for season’s fourth major

Not only is it major championship week, but LPGA players are nestled in one of the Tour’s most beloved locales for the Wegmans LPGA Championship.

The Rochester, N.Y., area has welcomed the Tour with open arms for the 38th consecutive year, and players have been thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Karin Sjodin found an interesting note on her courtesy car on Monday and is going to oblige an LPGA fan with some tickets to the tournament, one of Brittany Lincicome’s pro-am partners holed out for a double eagle and got some media attention on Monday, and Paula Creamer had a relaxing morning with a hot cup of java. Laura Diaz was happy to reunite with her family in Pittsford, N.Y., Cristie Kerr did an autograph signing at a Wegmans store in Pensfield, and players will be teeing off between these awesome tee markers all week.

Danielle Kang is sporting some new Adidas shoes, Lexi Thompson hit an iron off the fifteenth tee at Monroe Golf Club in the pro-am on Monday, and Jane Park felt sick after seeing the back-up on the 10th tee, but raved about the golf course. Sandra Gal had a 10-year-old caddie on Monday, Beatriz Recari got in a late workout session, and Lincicome took in a Triple-A baseball game in Rochester at a stadium I’ve had the pleasure of attending.

Kerr hosted a charity gathering on Tuesday night, Recari and Shanshan Feng played a practice round together on Tuesday, Lydia Ko participated in a pre-tournament press conference, and Dottie Pepper ran into Gail Graham at a Charles Schwab-sponsored gathering for Rochester-area businesswomen. Thompson was all set for Tuesday night’s pro-am party, this cake commemorated the LPGA’s history in Rochester, and Brittany Lang was hooked up with some protein shakes by some of the guys in her pro-am group and with a hot-pink purse from her hubby.

Mina Harigae gave Lizette Salas this cool belated birthday present and gave her Titleist a hat, Pepper signed copies of her new Bogey Ballton book at the tournament (check out the website on Friday for more on this), and Karen Stupples’ makeup artists did a great job in glamming her up for a Golf Channel segment. Salas attended the tournament’s “Lunch With Champions” event on Tuesday, while this group had fun at Kerr’s charity soiree.

Here is a great look by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle of the LPGA’s presence in the area through the years, and this article talks about the players becoming familiar with a new host course. ESPNW’s Mechelle Voepel wrote about Thompson’s major approach, and fans should check out the LPGA’s Facebook page today, because Brooke Pancake is taking it over.

Over the weekend, LPGA rookie Mirim Lee defeated fellow South Korean Inbee Park on the second playoff hole at the Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft to become a Rolex First-Time Winner. Lee was all smiles and gave fans some souvenirs after hoisting the championship trophy, getting a shout-out from Hall of Famer Gary Player, adding $225,000 to her bank account, jumping 42 spots in the Rolex Women’s Golf World Rankings to 29th and even scoring a great new pair of socks.

The crowds were massive in Grand Rapids, Mich., and this lucky fan got a signed golf ball from Gal. Tiffany Joh used her free Meijer gift card to stock up on candy, here’s a shot of a group of fans watching Thompson smash a drive, and some players participated in the Cooks for a Cause event along with celebrity chefs.

Lincicome lounged in some awesome Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pajama pants while watching the epically funny show The Big Bang Theory on Saturday night and drove with her caddie to Rochester on Sunday evening after carding a 68, Anna Nordqvist made two young fans’ day by taking time to meet them and pose for a photo, and Creamer caught up with Sydnee Michaels and made a new friend. World No. 1 Stacy Lewis had the joy of playing in front of her nephew, who garnered some local media attention, the LPGA enjoyed a country concert featuring Gary Allan and Big & Rich, and Michelle Wie tried to stay positive and enjoy these gold Nikes after being forced to withdraw due to a finger injury.

Creamer certainly has dedicated fans, as evidenced last week, Hall of Famer Karrie Webb continued to be a great ambassador for the game by greeting fans, and Kang ran into some slow movers on her drive (as a passenger) to Rochester. Gal shared some cool photos from her week in Michigan, here’s a cool video of players working out with South Florida-based David Donatucci, and here is an update on the Tour’s Wounded Warrior Project Weekends charity initiative.

Elsewhere, Jane Crafter was at the scenic north shore of Long Island, Amanda Blumenherst announced she’s going to have a boy, and Natalie Gulbis shared a nice sunset photo and is now able to take full swings again as she rehabs an injured hip. Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam found her grandmother’s old recipe books while going through some stuff in her childhood home in Sweden last week, and Wie started therapy for her finger this Tuesday.

Now it’s nearly time for players to tee it up and chase down major championship glory. It should be a heck of a weekend.

Until next time….


Stars going low, having fun in Michigan

Smiles and birdies have been plentiful this week as the LPGA Tour continues its return to Michigan for the first time in more than a decade.

Former world No. 1 Inbee Park sits atop the 36-hold leaderboard at the Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft after consecutive 5-under 66s, and fourth-ranked Suzann Pettersen is a stroke back after a stellar 64 on Friday. Mirim Lee also shot a 64 on Friday and is two off the pace at 8-under, while fellow South Korean Amy Yang is fourth at 7-under.

With so many birdies ready for the taking at Blythefield Country Club (photo), any number of players – including first-round leader Sandra Gal – still have a great chance to hoist the trophy on Sunday. It should be high drama for the throngs of fans on-site and millions of others watching live on Golf Channel over the weekend.

It’s been a busy week for Tour stars in the Grand Rapids area, and here’s a look at some of the highlights.

RICOH Women’s British Open champion Mo Martin is partnering with Caddy For A Cure, but had to withdraw after carding an opening-round 72 to “rest an overuse injury.” Danielle Kang was happy to find some presents in her locker on Friday, Brittany Lang used her Meijer gift card to get some goodies, and the crowds were huge again on Friday.

U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie was able to play in the pro-am, but withdrew on Thursday with a right hand injury, world No. 1 Stacy Lewis had some decked-out fans supporting her in the gallery, and Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader attended the tournament as well. Ryann O’Toole found a silver lining after an opening-round 77, Jennifer Song had fun with her host family for the week, and Michigan State’s Lindsey McPherson had a memorable first round before missing the cut.

Lexi Thompson had a very early tee time for Wednesday’s pro-am, as did Anna Nordqvist (photo), who had a bet with Commissioner Mike Whan, while Karin Sjodin had this nice view while warming up on the range. LPGA Headquarters was in the spirit and excited about the tournament starting as well, and Mariajo Uribe’s clubs had not arrived by Wednesday, but she was lucky enough to get some replacements from Titleist’s Ann Cain and some other manufacturers before they finally got there on Thursday.

Beatriz Recari tested out some new Oakley lenses on Wednesday, Thompson stars in PUMA’s new commercial with Usain Bolt and others, and Angela Stanford supported the title sponsor with a trip to the grocery store. Dottie Pepper broke down the LPGA’s recent action for ESPNW in this video, here’s an illustration of just how global the LPGA Tour is, and the LPGA Communications Committee got together for a nice dinner on Wednesday night.

Kang and Lydia Ko were loose and relaxed on Wednesday and Paula Creamer met this young golfer and this one as well at a public appearance at a Golf Galaxy store, where they presented her with birthday cake and cupcakes. Golfing World posted this video feature with Nordqvist on Wednesday, where she talked about her two victories and early success from the 2014 season.

In other corners of the world, 2015 European Solheim Cup Captain Carin Koch was with Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam at Annika Invitational Europe to talk about next year’s event, while Natalie Gulbis was in Myrtle Beach to continue her rehab and return from a hip injury, and she had a great time doing yoga on the beach and paddle boarding and also got to see a GoPro drone in action. Lizette Salas got dolled up and dressed in pink for a Golf Digest photo shoot on Friday, while Jane Crafter posted this awesome sunset from New York.

It’s great to see the LPGA welcomed so well in Michigan, and I have a feeling the Tour will be returning there for quite some time.

Until next time….

Great times in The Great Lakes State

Another off week has come and gone, and LPGA players are chomping at the bit to get back inside the ropes again.

This week’s $1.5 million Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft is yet another domestic full-field event Commissioner Mike Whan and his team have added in recent years, and it marks the Tour’s first stop in Michigan in more than a decade. The Grand Rapids community is excited to have the LPGA and world No. 1 Stacy Lewis in town, and here is a nice article about how the tournament is about more than just golf.

Lexi Thompson received a very special U.S. flag, Wie showed support for her college during a practice session, and Danielle Kang’s mother showed she has some artistic skills while she racked up plenty of tickets at a local arcade. Saturday was a “grind” kind of day on the range for two-time 2014 champion Anna Nordqvist, while Sunday included some paddleboarding, this is one heck of a photo from the 3M Championship, and Lizette Salas took in a unique cinematic experience.

Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam had a blast at a Paul McCartney concert at Target Field in Minneapolis on Saturday night, Beatriz Recari has a cool new golf bag travel cover, and Jennifer Song, Yani Tseng and Chie Arimura enjoyed a casual round on the links on Sunday. Wie looked great and got to show off her new watch in this photo shoot for Golf Digest, Jessica Korda read a tear-jerker of a book during her travels to Michigan, and Karin Sjodin spent time with friends at the pool.

Natalie Gulbis and her mom took in the garden-themed atrium at the Bellagio in Las Vegas that looks like a scene from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and also saw the resort’s amazing water show, while Jennie Lee and Stephanie Kono expanded their musical boundaries by taking in a country concert and then explored Boston. Cristie Kerr ran into a traveling snag (literally), Brittany Lincicome was already checked in for her flight at 4 a.m., and Brittany Lang enjoyed a nice day at the course with her husband and friends.

Here is a video look at what is in RICOH Women’s British Open champion Mo Martin’s golf bag, Sorenstam was in her native Sweden to kick off the Annika Invitational Europe and do a junior clinic, and Gulbis got in an early morning workout at home and enjoyed wearing a new watch of her own before practicing at the Butch Harmon School of Golf. Tiffany Joh showed off her climbing skills, Paula Creamer’s dog, Studley, was featured in the August/September issue of Dogs Unleashed, and Suzann Pettersen spent the day on the links with one of her partners, Dow Chemical on Monday.

Lincicome ran into a former coach of hers while playing in a pro-am on Monday, fans can get instructions on how to check out Thompson’s new PUMA television ad by going here, and Kathleen Ekey helped a young golfer with her swing. Salas is honored to be on USC’s “Women of Troy” wall, Kristy McPherson enjoyed a nice steak dinner after a workout, and Recari utilized her NutriBullet to make smoothies on the road. Morgan Pressel was part of Tuesday’s pre-tournament press conferences, Creamer turned 28 on Tuesday, and Michigan State University and the University of Michigan both have players teeing it up this week.

Gulbis’ new Lexus is downright amazing, here is a very cool video showing how the grandstands at Blythefield Country Club were built around the 18th green, and wine connoisseur Kerr found a nice local winery. Thompson was primed and ready to attend the tournament’s pro-am party on Tuesday night, Song tuned up her guitar skills, and Thompson showed how pretty this week’s course is.

Next week, Dottie Pepper’s latest book installment featuring Bogey Ballton will be released at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, and its sales benefit the LPGA Foundation, which is a great cause. The 17-time LPGA champion also teamed with some of her former high school chums to make a difference via a food supply drive, further proof how busy and giving Pepper is on a regular basis.

Congratulations are in order for Veronica Felibert, who won the Symetra Tour’s Credit Union Classic outside Syracuse, N.Y., on Sunday. It’s always good to see nice people find success.

Until next time….


Busy off week wrapping up for Tour players

Not surprisingly, the LPGA and its players have had a highly active week following the inaugural International Crown as they enjoy a week off to do a multitude of things around the country.

Tour players rarely sit still for long, and this week has been no different. Here are the highlights from another hectic week.

Spain’s Beatriz Recari and Belen Mozo appeared on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” show on Wednesday and got a makeup touchup before the show, where they talked to Damon Hack about their country’s big victory last week. Michelle Wie went through at least three golf gloves during a practice session at this “office,” while Jessica Korda had a touch of pink in her blonde locks while sweating and giving herself blisters while working on her game as well.

Anna Nordqvist’s new Adidas shoes caught people’s attention as she grinded in the Florida heat, Paula Creamer was decked out in pink for her bachelorette party, and Danielle Kang’s coach tried to help her deal with the Orlando heat with the help of a fan. Wie signed some autographs close to her most coveted trophy while enjoying a nice gift from Nike Golf, Julieta Granada met with her native country Paraguay’s Olympic Committee President Camilo Perez, and RICOH Women’s British Open champion Mo Martin threw out the first pitch at the Dodgers-Braves game in Los Angeles and got to meet manager Don Mattingly.

Hall of Famer Juli Inkster enjoyed some quality time with her daughters, Lexi Thompson showed good form while hard at work on the range on Thursday, and LPGA fans can vote here for Lydia Ko as Sky Sports’ Sportswoman of the Month for July. Cristie Kerr appeared with the LaCoste CEO at the City Parks Foundation of New York City’s golf tournament that benefited youth golf instruction, while ESPNW ran this nice piece on Ko.

Here is a great place to find out more about next week’s title sponsor, Meijer, and discover where the proceeds from the tournament go, and Sandra Gal and Hee Young Park had fun together on Thursday. Karin Sjodin worked on one thing ad nauseum on Thursday, Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam’s children are growing fast, and Karen Stupples relaxed at Palm Island.

Jennifer Song was excited about her new wedges, Lizette Salas received the Trojan Diamoneer Award at USC’s graduation before enjoying time at home, and this is an entertaining video where Hall of Famer Karrie Webb tells Golfing World about the best shot she ever hit. Korda was doing “something cool” for Golf Digest magazine and worked out at the IMG Academy, Gerina Piller hung out with some lucky people at Top Golf, and Steve Eubanks from Global Golf Post wrote this great article about the documentary that is being produced about the LPGA’s founders.

Austin Ernst was happy to get some new SKLZ workout gear, Natalie Gulbis enjoyed a spa day at Aria in Las Vegas, organized her closet, paddle boarded here, checked out her new Lexus and spent time with kids at her local Boys & Girls Club, and Dottie Pepper has volume two of her children’s book “Bogie Tees Off” ready to go. Ryann O’Toole has some sweet new Oakley shoes, Sorenstam snapped this amazing shot of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player on the range at the 3M Championship, and Thompson practiced even after putting in a workout on Friday.

Gal treated her dog to some doggy ice cream, while Thompson had a blast with a group of friends.

The Tour announced its ambassador sponsors for the 2016 International Crown that will be played outside Chicago with the help of Nordqvist, and the Daily Herald (article) and The Courier-News (article) covered the press conference. It was also announced that my pal Nancy Lopez and Jane Blalock will be inducted into The Legends Hall of Fame later this year, which is a great honor for both ladies.

It’s been a heck of a year so far.

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.

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