CWGA Experience at CommonGround in Aurora

The CWGA held it’s annual Experience at CommonGround today. This is an event which includes golf skills instruction by professional instructors in driving, chipping and pitching, and putting. This year they added a new section for rules and etiquette.

I wanted to attend, but I didn’t get signed up in time. The event regularly sells out, though I should have taken the advice of a friend and just showed up and paid. But, I played a round this morning in my league, and we didn’t finish soon enough.

I really enjoyed talking with the CWGA staff and some of the participants. Folks really get a lot out of the instruction here. I did participate last  year, and I still use some of the techniques I learned, mostly for chipping. I’ll make sure I get signed up on time next year!

For those Colorado golfers, check out www.cogolf.org for more information on the remaining Experiences, one in Grand Junction and one in Colorado Springs. The CWGA also sponsors 9 Hole Social Golf Outings and various courses up and down the Front Range during the summer.

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Tseng wins Honda LPGA Thailand

Yani Tseng pulled off a come-from-behind win in the LPGA Thailand February 19. She started her final round with a remarkable eagle on number 1, and then went on to birdie the third, sixth and seventh holes on the front nine. Miyazato was one shot up at the start of the final round and was competitive with Tseng throughout the final match, but came up one short by the end of the round.

South Korea’s Jiyai Shin was also in the race, but ended the round two back from Tseng.

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Tseng had an amazing shot on the 18th when her 104-yard approach shot stopped within a foot of the pin. She took the win after her tap-in for birdie and a one shot lead over Miyazato.

In 2011, Tseng won this event for the first of seven 2011 LPGA victories. The LPGA season is shaping up to be an exciting this year. The next event on the schedule is HSBC Women’s Championship in Singapore. Being played at the Tanah Merah Country Club this year, Karrie Webb won this one last year. Tseng and Miyazato will be there, as well as some of our favorite U.S.players such as Morgan Pressel, Cristie Kerr, and Paula Creamer.

I would love to go overseas and attend these tournaments in person. The caliber of play is so high and the venues seem very interesting. Maybe next year!

 

Lexi Thompson wins at the Dubai Ladies Masters

Earlier this year there was a bit of a kerfuffle about Lexi Thompson joining the LPGA Tour a bit earlier than her 18th birthday. This weekend she again showed that decision is the correct one. At age 16, Lexi is the youngest winner on the European Ladies Tour with a 5-shot under 67 at the Dubai Ladies Masters.

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She steadily played her game as the South African Lee-Anne Pace came in second at 69, with less than stellar putting on the back nine. Lexi won by four strokes for her first professional win across the Atlantic. Sophie Gustafson of Sweden was third, and four players tied for fourth. Michelle Wie started the final day 5 shots behind the leader, but ended the day in 12th place. Wie sent a congratulatory tweet and mentioned that Lexi will be a “force to be reckoned with” in the future.

Congratulations to Lexi. She’s been working hard and that work is paying off. She seems to have a good head on her shoulders, and her father seems to be helping her keep things in perspective. Hopefully Lexi will be able to be a teenager as well as a world class golfer. What do you think?

LPGA Qualifying Tournament continues

The LPGA Qualifying Tournament is wrapping up, and the contenders are Christine Song and Jennie Lee as round 3 concludes. The Qualifying Tournament finishes up December 4 at the LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Florida. The field criteria are all eligible LPGA members, 15 exempt players from 2011 LPGA Futures Tour, and all players who successfully completed Qualifying Stage 2. The top finishers get their LPGA cards, and the others that make the cut receive LPGA Futures Tour status.

A notable competitor at this tournament is Birdie Kim. Birdie Kim was the U.S. Women’s Open champion in 2005 at Cherry Hills Country Club near Denver, Colorado. She hit a greenside bunker shot on the 18th hole that holed out, winning her first LPGA tournament.

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Birdie disappeared from golf after a serious car accident in 2009. The accident smashed the bones in her face, forcing her out of golf until the 2011 season. In 2011, Birdie played 11 tournaments, missing nine cuts with a season best tie for 56th. Her 142nd finish on the 2011 money list forced her back to Q-school for the first time since 2004.

Her current standing is 62nd after 4 rounds. Playing well tomorrow qualifies her to play on the LPGA tour in 2012. She’s still playing with some pain in her shoulders and arms but she’s determined to return to the Tour. After all she’s been through, let’s hope she can still compete at the highest level.

Annika Sorenstam honored by the USGA

Annika Sorenstam is selected to receive the 2012 USGA Bob Jones award. This is the highest honor the USGA can bestow in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. Sorenstam is regarded has one of the most dominant players in the history of women’s golf. Since retiring from golf, she has been named Ambassador of the United States Golf Association and in 2009 she was named a Global Ambassador by the International Golf Association.

The award will be presented on February 4, 2012 at the USGA’s annual meeting in Houston. Congratulations, Annika. Although we miss watching you play golf, we appreciate your efforts on behalf of the game.

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Yani Tseng has won her 10th worldwide victory this season at the LPGA Taiwan Championship. She finished the tournament 16 under with a 6-under-66 at Sunrise for her seventh LPGA Tour victory. Amy Yang and Azahara Munoz tied for second. Morgan Pressel tied for 4th with Anna Nordqvist.

The next tournament on the LPGA Tour is the Mizuno Classic in Shima-shi, Mie, Japan. Last year, Jiyai Shin defeated Yani Tseng by 2 strokes in this tournament. Tseng has been playing very well this season and is the LPGA player of the year for the second year. Can she maintain this high level of play through the end of the year? I think Tseng is unstoppable this season. What do you think?

Lexi Thompson is officially a member of the LPGA

On Friday, September 30, Commissioner Mike Wahn granted Lexi Thompson’s petition for membership in the LPGA. The LPGA rules state that members need to be at least 18 years old to join the tour, though obviously exceptions can be made. Thompson, 16, submitted a petition for membership based on her tour win at the Navistar LPGA Classic earlier in September. She’ll be postponing her official start date on the tour until 2012, to start as a rookie. She’ll turn 17 in February.

Thompson is the youngest member ever to join the tour. Michelle Wie played tournaments when she was 15, but didn’t officially join the tour until 3 years later, after finishing Q school. Morgan Pressel, Aree Song, and Jessica Korda were granted waivers when they were 17, though they were close to their 18th birthdays and the high school educations complete or nearly so.

There is no doubt that Lexi Thompson is talented and she can compete on the highest professional level. She’s been home-schooled, and is planning to finish and graduate while also playing golf. I think that the tour should require kids to finish high school prior to starting the tour as a professional. That would insure that these ladies would have a basic education – golf is not forever.

The LPGA has been struggling lately with the loss of sponsors and uneven management. A new star certainly can’t hurt the ratings and attendance at LPGA events. Is joining the tour better for Lexi or better for the LPGA?
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Europe wins the Solheim Cup in 2011

The Solheim Cup is officially over, and after an afternoon studded with rain and missed shots the Europeans took the cup from the Americans, 15 points to 13. It was exciting to watch Ryann O’Toole do her best to finish ahead, but just couldn’t carry the load herself, halving her match with Caroline Hedwell. Juli Inkster, a veteran of 12 Solheim Cup tournaments, also halved her match with Laura Davis. On the final day, Morgan Pressel, Vicky Hurst, Brittany Lang, and Christina Kim were the members of the U.S. team to defeat their European competitors in the singles matches. Those efforts weren’t enough to win the tournament.

The next Solheim Cup is being held at the Colorado Golf Club near Denver, Colorado in September of 2013. Those of us who live in the beautiful state of Colorado are already looking forward to attending the event.

The next major LPGA event is the only event held in South Korea, the LPGA Hana Bank Championship. The event begins on Friday, October 7, finishing on Sunday, October 9. Players eligible for this tournament include the top 50 available players from the LPGA Tour’s official month list at the conclusion of the Navistar LPGA Classic, 12 players selected by the Korean LPGA and 7 invitations. This tournament has no cut, and is 54 holes of stroke play. The venue is the Sky 72 Golf Club Ocean Course. The first place finisher walks away with $270,000.

The top players on the LPGA list include most of those who just finished in Ireland, except for Christina Kim. Christina is at 63 on the money list, so unless she goes as an LPGA pick or is invited by the tournament, she’ll be sitting this one out. Cristie Kerr sat out her singles match over the weekend due to an injury. Let’s hope she gets well enough to play in South Korea in the coming weeks.

What did you think of the Solheim Cup? Will you be watching the tournament in Korea?