So Yeon Ryu is making her fourth trip to Blythefield Country Club, the site of her sixth LPGA Tour victory in 2018 and an event that is near and dear to her heart. Last year, she played in the Wednesday pro-am with Rick Keyes, Meijer’s president and CEO, and learned more about the company’s Simply Give program, which supports local food pantries. she felt a tug to give back to the community that so graciously welcomed LPGA golfers to their town.
“I feel like I’m right at home,” said Ryu, who donated $100,000 to Simply Give. “I feel like even though I never really met them personally, I feel like [the fans] are like my friends who are always supporting me, always pulling for me. So coming back as defending champion is always special and I feel very blessed to be here.”
Entering the week, Ryu finally feels her game coming together for the season after her tie for second at the U.S. Women’s Open, her best finish of the season.
“At the beginning of the season I wasn't really comfortable with my game at all,” said Ryu, who is teeing off No. 10 at 12:59 p.m. with past Meijer LPGA Classic champions Lexi Thompson (2015) andBrooke Henderson (2017). “Since ANA Inspiration, I feel like my game was slowly getting back, and finally I played some great golf at the U.S. Women's Open. I finished tied for second, which means I think it's a lot. So I feel a lot more confidence right now.”
CAROLINE MASSON CELEBRATES GIVING BACK
With her parents proudly in the crowd, Caroline Masson drained a 70-foot birdie on the final hole to capture solo second at the 2018 Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. It was the best finish of her 2018 season and the memory of that moment still brings a big smile to her face.
‘I actually said to my caddie today, that was one of the coolest moments I can remember on the last hole, making a putt like that,” said Masson, who said Mom and Dad were “going nuts” in the grandstands. “I actually hit a pretty bad tee to the right and a pretty decent shot from there to get it to the front of the green, and I think it was just on. Honestly, I think the putt broke like four different ways, which I kind of had it figured out, but it was obviously a little lucky. It was going a little fast, but it was right in the middle.”
Masson comes to Grand Rapids fresh off an appearance at the 20th playing of Val Skinner’s LIFE (LPGA Pros in the Fight to Eradicate Breast Cancer) outing in New Jersey. Skinner, a six-time LPGA Tour winner, started her foundation to commemorate the life of LPGA Tour player Heather Farr, who died in 1993 at age 28 after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989. Masson and Skinner both played collegiately at Oklahoma State University and Masson was thrilled to participate in the fundraiser, which has raised more than $13 million since 2000, for the second consecutive year.
“Breast cancer, I mean obviously we're all in some way affected by it and (Val) was personally, too, with Heather passing away at a really young age, so that was her motivation,” said Masson. “She always says to us, ‘I want you young players to get it.’ She really does a good job and I think everybody who's there gets it.
It's very emotional and we celebrate the ones that made it, the survivors, and also celebrate the ones that unfortunately passed away. But it's a great event and I'm always looking forward to coming back.”
Masson tees off No. 1 at 8:32 a.m. with Annie Park and Katherine Kirk.
MEIJER LPGA CLASSIC FIRST ON LPGA TOUR WITH ON-COURSE LACTATION, DIAPER CHANGING STATIONS
Officials with the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give are proud to announce the addition of a Family Care Area for nursing mothers and parents to utilize during tournament week at Blythefield Country Club.
The upgraded hospitality area, called The Kimberly Clark Family Care Area, will be located next to Discovery Land in front of the 18th tee. This air-conditioned tent will include four locking rooms – two of which will have lactation stations and four will have diaper changing stations – and an upgraded waiting area for kids and families. Kimberly Clark will also have samples for families who utilize the space. It will be open from Wednesday through Sunday of tournament week.
The added support for moms attending the Meijer LPGA Classic is not lost on LPGA player and mother of two Cristie Kerr.
“The support Meijer has provided for us moms on tour has been amazing. We are creating a new normal, traveling with our kids to compete in tournaments, and it’s great to see the progress over time,” said the 20-time LPGA Tour winner. “The Meijer LPGA Classic is an event I look forward to every year and I am so excited to see the new Family Care Area that they are creating this year.”
For more information, visit www.meijerlpgaclassic.com/meijer-lpga-classic-to-be-first-on-lpga-tour-with-on-course-lactation-diaper-changing-stations/. LPGA player Karine Icher, along with her husband Fred Bonnargent and their daughters Lola and Maya, visited the Family Care Area on Wednesday. A photo is attached (credit José Ma. Sáiz V.) and additional photos are available upon request.
DESIGNATED HOLE FOR AON RISK REWARD CHALLENGE
The season-long Aon Risk Reward Challenge will highlight the world’s best professional golfers as they tackle the most strategically challenging holes across both the LPGA Tour and PGA TOUR schedules. The player from each Tour on top of the Aon leaderboard at the end of the regular season will receive a $1 million prize. The scoring system is identical on both the LPGA Tour and PGA TOUR, and players will take their best two scores from each Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole, with the winners having the best average score to par at the end of the season. Players must play a minimum of 40 rounds throughout the season. The Challenge runs across regular season tournaments (29 LPGA Tour; 36 PGA TOUR).
The designated Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole at the Meijer LPGA Classic is the 17th. This 400-yard par 4 doglegs from right to left and possible reward awaits the bold player who challenges the right side of the fairway off the tee to set up a shorter approach shot into the green. However, the trees on the right loom large and can block any shot that is too short off the tee or that strays too far right.
“That's a really tough tee shot because you have to be at the right position,” said defending Meijer LPGA Classic champion So Yeon Ryu. “If you go to a little right, you actually can take the corner a little bit, so you might can hit a little shorter club than when you're hitting from the left. But at the same time, if you're not long enough, the trees all going to cover it.
For more information about the Aon Risk Reward Challenge, visit www.lpga.com/statistics/aon-risk-reward-challenge