The LPGA Tour: Indeed, it’s different out here
Can you picture a PGA Tour pro teeing it up with a group of amateurs on a Friday morning of a tournament week?
No? Well that’s because that would never happen.
It’s just one reason it’s different out here on the LPGA Tour.
“If we just try to do what the PGA Tour does, we can’t really win,” Karin Sjodin said. “They’re doing it at such a high level already and have the pull that their stars do. So we have to kind of branch out in other ways so we can get other people involved and get more tournaments for us, too.”
Nearly every player who lost their first round matches at the Sybase Match Play Championship played in a pro-am on the Hamilton Farms’ par-3 Hickory Course on Friday. Defending champion Suzanne Pettersen, knocked off by 62-seed Jodi Ewart in the first round, was the only one to decline the offer.
Everyone interviewed enjoyed their time on the par-3 course (The buzz around Hamilton Farms is that Tiger Woods struggled to make birdies here.), which the course’s website boasts as the only par-3 to have a USGA rating in the U.S.
“I’ve never hit as many hybrids in my life,” Sjodin said, noting the challenge of the par-3 track. Sjodin also played in the Golf for Africa charity event run by Betsy King on Monday at Bayonne G.C.
Michelle Wie, who lost to Mina Harigae 3 & 2 in yesterday’s opening round, scored two holes-in-one Friday, on the 174-yard fourth hole and the 171-yard eighth. Jimin Kang started her day off with a hole-in-one on the 206-yard opening hole.
But Mika Miyazato posted the most impressive round, birdieing seven holes on the Hickory Course.
“I really enjoyed this today. I played very well, I was hitting shots close to the pin so many times, it was so fun,” said Miyazato, shaking the hands of many members who couldn’t believe she played so well.
There’s the obvious disappointment of playing a pro-am adjacent to the tournament course. Paula Creamer didn’t hide her frustration with the upset she suffered to No. 57-seeded Jennifer Johnson yesterday.
“It’s one of the best par-3 courses I’ve ever played, so it was kind of fun,” Creamer said. “It’s obviously unfortunate I’m on this side instead of over there. It’s tough but at the same time it’s a fun day. If it wasn’t for [the sponsors] we wouldn’t be there, so we do as much as we possibly can for our sponsors.
“Especially with women’s golf and things we have to be very aware of that and I think we do a good job of being able to give back.”
Belen Mozo, who gave No. 5 Cristie Kerr her money’s worth, taking last year’s runner-up 17 holes, considered Friday a treat, actually.
Mozo’s partners in the Wednesday pro-am struggled to get the golf ball airborne, chunking shots off the tee, skulling them over the green, and even whiffing a bunch of times.
It was nice to play with players who could make some pars.
“This is a great idea, although I know most players don’t have the energy or the motivation after a loss,” said Mozo, who will stick around the next two weeks to play the course with her instructor, Mike Adams, ranked 27th on Golf Digest’s 50 Best Teachers list, and the head pro at Hamilton Farms.
“You really have fun out there, more so on this type of course. It was quick, it was fun, and you made a bunch of birdies. So it’s an amazing idea, I liked it.”
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