I had a nice but brief conversation with the ten-year LPGA player out of Pepperdine University by way of Australia, Katherine Kirk and her husband Tom, on the back of one of our ranges here at Desert Mountain last Friday. It began when she passed me on her way to the club-cleaning bucket. To acknowledge that I knew who she was and to strike up a welcoming conversation, I asked her if she was going to play the Founders Cup, the LPGA stop in Phoenix in late March.
She said yes that she was, but that she’d be playing the Pure Silk this week to begin the LPGA’s new year…and then would go on to play the Australian Open, Thailand and Singapore…before coming back to Phoenix for the Founders Cup, the U.S. opener. I was surprised. I had no idea the LPGA year was about to start. So I thought you might want to be reminded too.
Last year’s inaugural Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic was a boon for the LPGA in terms of heightening awareness of the Tour and its creativity if not so much for the ladies’ play. That was the tournament that was greeted with monsoon rains (twelve inches in eight hours) that flooded the course and rendered six of the holes unplayable…for days. There were photos of lakes where holes should have been and Tour flotsam and jetsam rising up through the rippling waters. It was a big deal.
And it was a nice piece of publicity. Commissioner Mike Whan exhibited still more of his management creativity by making lemonade out of lemons. Instead of cancelling the tournament — it was that bad — he reduced it to three, 12-hole rounds on a hodgepodge routing of the holes that weren’t under water. And some of them were reduced to par-3s; find a dry spot out in the fairway and drop a couple of tee blocks.
So the players got to play an official 36-hole tournament, LPGA fans around the world got to see some golf and the brand new sponsor got some pretty good bang for the buck. All three constituencies seemed pleased.
This year’s installment will be played once again at the Ocean Club Golf Course on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. It’s a Tom Weiskopf design that will be set up at 6,644 yards. It’s a field of 108 players topped by World No. 3 Stacy Lewis, and No. 4 Lydia Ko in the first appearance of her rookie year. Other notable players include Na Yeon Choi, Paula Creamer, Sandra Gal, Jessica Korda, Brittany Lincicome, Ai Miyazato, Azahara Munoz, Ryann O’Toole, Gerina Piller, Morgan Pressel, Beatriz Recari, Lizette Salas, Angela Stanford, Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie, and, of course, the aforementioned Katherine Kirk.
This is a solid field with many of the Asian players presumably already pre-positioned for the Australian Open two weeks later.
And the really good news? It will be in the mid-70s with no rain in the forecast. Enjoy.