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Mar 29

The Social Scene with Neal Reid


Busy week for LPGA stars

LPGA Tour players have been going non-stop this week in California, where the Kia Classic is being held at the Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club (photo) and resort in Carlsbad.

Beatriz Recari is the defending champion, having defeated I.K. Kim in a two-hole playoff last year to earn her second career Tour victory. Recari’s winning putt was commemorated with this plaque near the 18th green and she was happy to be back at the site of her win, but she won’t be able to defend her title this weekend after a 4-over 76 in the second round left her one shot on the wrong side of the cut.

Paula Creamer was the first-round leader along with Mariajo Uribe after carding a 5-under 67 and signed a tournament sign to support breast cancer awareness following her round. Dori Carter, ranked 244th in the world, fired an 8-under 64 on Friday to take a two-stroke lead over Stacy Lewis and Cristie Kerr at 10-under.

Only 36 players finished under par through 36 holes, but the leaders are in position to take scores deep into the red this weekend with numerous birdies.

The players’ flurry of activity started on Monday, when Anna Nordqvist and Vicky Hurst visited the SKLZ sports training office in Carlsbad. Here’s a shot of them taking a break, and another one of Hurst in the workout room.

Lexi Thompson hit the beach in San Diego, while Lewis attended an Omega watches event in the same city. Creamer caught up with her pup, and Sophie Gustafson posted this awesome photo of a sunrise from 30,000 feet on Tuesday.

Lizette Salas, Gerina Piller and Brittany Lincicome participated in a photo shoot for Pandora North America on Tuesday, Michelle Wie – who just signed a deal with Kia Motors America – showed off yet another new golf bag, and Uribe enjoyed a UCLA golf alumni dinner with friends on Monday night.

Lewis, an Arkansas Razorback, shared this photo of one of her new golf towels on Tuesday, the same day Wie got in a practice round, and So Yeon Ryu worked out in a Race to CME Globe t-shirt. Here’s a cool GoPro putting video with Hurst that was posted by the LPGA on Tuesday, Recari prepped for a Golf Channel photo shoot along with Nordqvist (photo), Lydia Ko (photo), Thompson (photo), a feathery Shanshan Feng, Hall of Famer Karrie Webb and a glamorous Hee Young Park.

Also on Tuesday, Danielle Kang was serenaded by a Kia Classic volunteer who epitomizes how great the Tour’s volunteers are week-in and week-out, and Brooke Pancake Tweeted this photo of a great-looking Kia that players can win with a hole-in-one on the 14th hole. This is a flat-out awesome GoPro photo of Ko from inside the bottom of a cup, and here’s a cool photo of Cindy LaCrosse chipping at a St. Louis Cardinals spring training game.

Big news came out on Wednesday, when the LPGA announced a second event in China that will take place this October. That’s great news for the global Tour that continues to expand its reach across the globe.

Ko took over the LPGA’s Facebook page on Wednesday, while Thompson made an appearance at the Roger Dunn Golf Shop in Santa Ana, where she had a good time interacting with fans. ESPNW ran this cool article on Wednesday about the LPGA’s social media prowess, which continues to impress me every day.

The Tour was buzzing on Wednesday, when Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers played in the pro-am with Ryu and Natalie Gulbis. He did this interview for LPGA.com, and here’s a shot of him with Christina Kim.

Kang visited the GoPro office on Wednesday, Wie had dinner with Stanford’s women’s golf team, and marshal registration opened for the Evian Championship on Thursday. In case you didn’t know, Sandra Gal is an avid painter in her free time, and here’s the LPGA’s video feature on her hobby.

Whew! And that’s just a week of happenings on Tour! It’s just another illustration of the energy the LPGA carries with it as the Tour cris-crosses the world.

Until next time….


Back from abroad, ready for another year!

If you’ve noticed that “Social Scene with Neal Reid” has been conspicuously absent from LPGA.com so far this year, there’s been a good reason.

I have recently returned from spending nine amazing weeks in Sochi, Russia, covering the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games as a sports writer for the Olympic News Service. It was a great opportunity and experience, and it was a dream to be part of the Olympic Games for the first time.

I covered and wrote about two sports I had little-to-no knowledge about – short track speed skating at the Olympic Games and wheelchair curling at the Paralympic Games. It was a challenge to become an “expert” on each sport, but I was able to do so and thoroughly enjoyed writing about those athletes.

I was lucky enough to travel to some great places overseas during my tenure with the LPGA, and amazingly this was my first international trip in 10 years! I met and worked with some great people and will treasure the experience forever.

This is my first of many columns scheduled for 2014, and I will also write regular features for the site. I am looking forward to following the “LPGA beat” even more intently this season, and I hope I can give readers a good look at what’s happening on Tour.

When I wasn’t working in Sochi, I would check LPGA.com to see what I’d missed from what was going on with the LPGA from time to time. Apparently, I’ve missed quite a bit!

Here’s a look at some of the highlights:

Jessica Korda kicked off the season with a victory at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic thanks to a final-round 66 that kept her a stroke ahead of 2013 Solheim Cup teammate Stacy Lewis. A couple of weeks later, Karrie Webb picked up her 40th career win at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open to further cement her Hall of Fame career and then recovered from a poor final round in Singapore with a win at the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix this past week. Simply put, there’s not a golfer on the planet right now who’s hotter than “Webbie,” and I have a feeling she’s not done winning.

In mid-February, Anna Nordqvist won the Honda LPGA Thailand by two strokes over reigning Rolex Player of the Year Inbee Park, and Paula Creamer used a monster 75-foot eagle putt to defeat Azahara Munoz on the second extra hole and win the HSBC Women’s Champions event in Singapore after Webb faltered. Creamer’s putt is already a favorite for “shot of the year,” and you can find it among the top five shots from that tournament here.

It was awesome to read on March 18 that Hall of Famer Juli Inkster has been named the 2015 U.S. Solheim Cup Team captain. Juli is an amazing person who is one of the most well-respected players in the history of the Tour, and I know Americans will be fighting hard to make her team.

Inkster quickly announced that veteran and all-around great person Pat Hurst will be one of her assistant captains. Pat is a great choice and knows what it takes to succeed in the Solheim Cup.

The European Team will announce its captain on April 11, and I can’t wait to see who it is. I have an idea who it will be, but am staying mum about it!

On Sunday, the World Golf Hall of Fame announced it has voted to change its enshrinement process, switching to a 16-member committee. Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam are joining Arnold Palmer and Gary Player as co-chairs of that selection committee, so the new process is in good hands.

The LPGA issued this statement to say it will continue to follow the established 27-point system when electing players to the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame. That sounds like a good compromise that should make everyone happy.

There were several other highlights – too many to mention since I’m getting wordy with this article – but suffice it to say there are tons of great things going on out on Tour. I can’t wait to write about them in the coming weeks and months.

The Kia Classic is coming up this weekend and will be followed by the Tour’s first major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the following week. In Saturday’s column, I will re-connect you with the players’ social media posts, and also make sure you stay on the lookout for other features I have in the works as well.

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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