Jun 20, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Just four days after Rory McIlroy finished his record-setting U.S. Open rout, the top women’s professional golfers in the world return to the Rochester area for the LPGA Championship, where Christie Kerr authored a similar tale 12 months ago.
This is the second consecutive year in which the year’s second women’s major takes place at Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford, mainly because the first was such a rousing success.
At this same time in 2010, The LPGA was in a near-crisis mode. Tournaments had been dropped, including one in Corning, and even this major event, with roots dating back to 1955 (only the U.S. Women’s Open is older), had lost its home at Bulle Rock Golf Club in Maryland.
Enter Wegmans, the grocery giant that was title sponsor of the annual LPGA event at Locust Hill since 1998. Wegmans agreed to turn the tournament into a major, and Locust Hill agreed to course changes that would make it longer and tougher.
And the course held up – with one big exception. Kerr, already a winner of the U.S. Women’s Open in 2007, had momentum following a victory in the State Farm Classic two weeks earlier, and she proceeded to carve up Locust Hill.
With rounds of 68, 66, 69 and 66, Kerr finished at an astonishing 19 under par, 12 shots clear of Song-Hee Kim. It both tied Patty Sheehan’s 72-hole scoring record for Locust Hill and matched the lowest under-par in any LPGA major, and also was the second-biggest winning margin in any women’s major.
The win also, temporarily, shot Kerr to the no. 1 spot in the world rankings, and began a resurgence of American golfers in the majors, a change from a long trend where international players, like Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa (both now retired), had ruled the game.
Paula Creamer followed Kerr’s Lead and won the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont in July 2010, and this April Stacy Lewis claimed her first major at the Kraft Nabisco in California. And Kerr still holds the no. 2 world ranking, behind only Yani Tseng.
Tseng, born in Taiwan but now living in Florida, was the 2010 LPGA Player of the Year, having won two majors – the Kraft Nabisco and Women’s British Open. She is also this year’s top money-winner with $905,725 and two wins to her credit. Kerr is second with $716,760. Perhaps the LPGA Tour’s best-known player, Michelle Wie, enters this week 13th on the money list and is still in search of her first major title.
There’s distant connections to Syracuse, too, as the last two winners of the LPGA Futures Tour’s Alliance Bank Classic at Drumlins East, Jenny Suh (2009) and Cindy LaCrosse (2010), are both in the field. LaCrosse and Suh are 69th and 92nd, respectively, on the money list.
For those interested in attending the tournament, tickets range from $35 daily passes to $100 passes that cover all four days of the competition, Thursday through Sunday. A clubhouse pass for the week is $135. The Golf Channel offers television coverage from 12:30 to 2:30 on Thursday and Friday and 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.