News

Volunteers of America Announces Three-Year Extension

October 1, 2015

Event will return to Las Colinas Country Club in Irving for a fourth consecutive year in 2016

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., October 1, 2015 – Volunteers of America, the national, non-profit organization, has extended its role as the title sponsor of the Volunteers of AmericaTexas Shootout for at least the next three years. The event this past April marked the first year that Volunteers of America became title sponsor of the event after serving as a presenting sponsor for the first two editions of the tournament.

“Volunteers of America is delighted to remain as the title sponsor of the Texas Shootout event,” said Volunteers of America National President Mike King. “The event provides us with tremendous exposure and we’re equally excited to partner with a charity minded organization like the LPGA and its ambassadors. Our three-year commitment will connect people from all walks of life to our mission and allow us to continue to do what we do best – help America’s most vulnerable.”

Volunteers of America, one of the nation’s largest national providers of housing and programs for homeless veterans and their families, serves over 2 million of America’s most vulnerable each year by helping those in need live healthy, safe, and productive lives. Through hundreds of human service programs, including housing and health care, Volunteers of America serves people in over 400 communities, assisting veterans, at-risk youth, the elderly, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals or families, people with disabilities or those battling addiction. Through their partnership with the LPGA, Volunteers of America is looking to continue to raise awareness for their organization and initiatives.

“Volunteers of America has helped make the Texas Shootout a world-class event in just three short years, and we’re thrilled to further that with the wonderful people at VOA,” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said. “Part of our mission at the LPGA is give back to communities all around the world, and VOA embodies that mission every day in communities all around the country. We couldn’t be more thrilled to continue to elevate the platform of both their organization and this event for at least the next three years.”

“The Volunteers of America Texas Shootout is a favorite of players and fans alike, and we are excited to be back in Irving for a number of important reasons,” said Kristy Nutt, tournament director with Global Golf Management, the organization that manages the tournament. “Working with Mike King and his team has been a pleasure. VOA continues to demonstrate pride and faith in the tournament and LPGA Tour, and our collective efforts will continue the legacy of women’s golf in the state of Texas.”

The 2016 Volunteers of America Texas Shootout will return to Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas from April 28 – May 1. The event will continue to host a High School and College “Shootout” where the top finishing women from each qualifying tournament will gain entry into the tournament. Additionally, the “Shootout” format of the 72-hole tournament will consist of two cuts; the first will be made after the second round to the top 70 and ties, and the second cut will be made to the top-50 and ties after the third round on Saturday to compete for the $1.3 million purse.

Inbee Park will return to the DFW-area in 2016 to defend her title.

Inbee Park wins the 2015 Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout presented by JTBC

May 21, 2015

Inbee Park issued notice early on a crowded Sunday leaderboard that this tournament was going to be hers for the taking. Park birdied the second and third holes Sunday to climb out to a lead in which she’d never relinquish, firing a 6-under-par 65 on Sunday to take the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout Presented by JTBC by three shots. The win Sunday is the second time in the three-year history of this event that Park’s won after winning in 2013, and this is Park’s second victory of the season.

“I don’t know how I did it, but I did it twice,” Park said. “I mean I love this golf course. Some people say it’s tough to play on. But I really like it. It seems like it really suits my eye. And yeah, I’ve been playing really good the last three years here, and I love to come here and play. The crowds here, the atmosphere is great, so I love to come to Texas.”

Heading into Sunday’s final round, Park thought 11 or 12-under-par total would probably get the job done. But she lost in the cruelest of fashions two weeks ago on Sunday in Hawaii, Park posted the clubhouse lead and watched as Sei Young Kim chipped in to force a playoff. She then watched helplessly as Kim dunked her second in the playoff hole for an eagle. So even on a back nine where it looked like she was on cruise control, she wasn’t considering the tournament hers until she rolled in her birdie at the last and calmly fist pumped to celebrate her 14th LPGA title.

“Everybody really played well. I didn’t expect, you know, that many people in the two digits after four rounds,” Park said, “but obviously everybody got really fired up and everybody played good, and obviously looking at the leaderboard and looking at everybody playing good, that really motivated me to play well as well. So I said maybe three birdies is not enough, I need to make more, and I went and made more.”

Cristie Kerr and Hee Young Park both entered the day two shots back of the co-leaders but each fired a 5-under-par 66 to vault into a tie for second at 12-under-par. Lexi Thompson posted her best finish of the season, and Maria McBride notched her best finish since 2011 with tie for fourths at 11-under-par.

Kerr snuck into runner-up with birdies at her last three holes, but ultimately, she just ran out of holes.

“Started sort of a birdie barrage at the end,” Kerr said. “I played really well today. I could have had three or four more putts go in, but 5-under on this course is great. Can’t complain.”

No one was catching Park on Sunday. Kerr even hit her Sunday goal, but it’s tough to make up two shots in the final round when the leader doesn’t make a single bogey and pours in six birdies.

“She just played a little bit more consistently than me this week, I think, and I had an even par round, which didn’t help my cause, but I can’t complain,” Kerr said. “ I played really well all week. I was great mentally today and that was my goal, and I thought I had to shoot at least 5 or 6 under to have a chance, and I did that.”

Quick Links

Final Round Notes and Interviews

May 21, 2015

Thompson Hoping To Peak In Time For Summer

After Inbee Park charged out in front with a stellar front-nine, Lexi Thompson’s Sunday charge looked like it was on the way when she birdied the 14th. But she bogeyed the very next hole. Again, it looked like she might charge when she birdied the 16th and then proceeded to stiff her approach on the par-3 17th to six feet. The putt slid by, though, and it was not to be Sunday for Thompson.

“I mean I left a lot of putts out there for birdies,” Thompson said. “I missed a few short putts. But yeah, I mean overall I struck it really well. I hit a lot of good iron shots, so I’m going to take positives out of the week. I’m happy with the finish, obviously. Not a win but Inbee played great, so.”

The 2-under 69 Thompson shot Sunday wasn’t a bad round by any stretch, but she knew she’d need more heading into Sunday with a crowded leaderboard and Park tied atop with her.

“It was funny because I think somebody asked me two days ago what I thought the winning score was going to be, and I was saying 14 or 15-under, so I knew I had to shoot four or five under at least today.”

But with four majors coming up over the next five months, Thompson’s pleased her game’s rounding into shape in time for the summer with Sunday’s tie for fourth being her best finish of 2015 to date.

“This is definitely a big confidence booster with a lot of majors coming up, the KPMG coming up and just a lot of good tournaments basically,” Thompson said. “But this was one of my favorites all year, so I mean I love coming here and playing in front of the fans.” out with the old, in with the old?

Each of the last three seasons, Inbee Park ended the LPGA season No. 1 in putts per green in regulation and in the top-five in putting average.

But Park is just 18th in putts per green in regulation this year (1.78) and 37th in putting average (29.84). So this week Park went old with the old putter and hopefully in with her old putting.

“I changed my putter this week, and a little bit of tweaks with the degrees of the putters and stuff like that,” Park said. “Just trying to make the ball go a little bit the way I want to go.”

The new putter brought back out the old Park on the greens. Inbee only needed 28.25 putts per round here this week, back to her normal levels of putts per round.

“The main key this week was my putting,” Park said. “That’s been something I’ve been struggling with the last couple weeks, in Hawaii and in San Francisco. I hit the ball great, but I just couldn’t putt. So I tried to give a little bit of change this week, and this week was totally different putting week for me. I putted really good.”

That may be frightening news for the rest of the Tour, but it’s certainly relieving to Park.

“I’m very happy to finally be really happy with the putter,” Park said. “Last couple of weeks I didn’t know what was wrong with my putter. And just I was really struggling. So yeah, just happy to find what was the problem and finally solved.”

Goals in the Distance

After Lydia Ko won a week ago, Park – No. 2 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings – didn’t have a chance to regain the No. 1 ranking, but she’s certainly put Ko on notice going forward that she wants her old moniker as the world’s top ranked player back.

“I don’t really try to think so much about the rankings. I think it’s just really out of my mind now,” Park said. “When I was No. 1, I probably looked at it a lot more often than what I am right now, but obviously eventually I really want to be back on the top again. But that’s not my only goal this year.”

It’d be gravy, obviously. She spent 59 weeks at No. 1 and wants to be the best women’s golfer on the planet. But more than that, she wants to have the moniker of career grand slam winner, and she can only get that later this summer with wins at the RICOH Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship.

“I’m just trying to play good golf every week and try to win every week and just play good golf,” Park said. “And hopefully if I can achieve the career Grand Slam this year, that’ll be my biggest goal.” drive for show, putt for dough It had been a disappointing start to 2015 for two-time LPGA winner Hee Young Park. She was only 62nd on the money list but cashed a check for more Sunday than she had made all year. Her tie for second is her first top-10 of 2015 and the $104,626 check vaults her up to _ on the money list

“Last two weeks I’ve been working on a lot of putting distance,” Park said. “I didn’t change any skill or stroke. Just keep practice with the distance and make sure past the hole, because previous round or before, I always above the hole, like short. So not even chance to, know, expect to make. So try to make a visual line past the hole all the time. I think that helped me. I think that was my key.”

Numbers to Know

2 – Inbee Park has now won this event two of the three year’s since its inception.

3 – 0 players age 40 plus had finished in the top 10 heading into this week. This week three did – Maria McBride, Juli Inkster, and Karrie Webb.

14 – Inbee Park’s 14 career wins ties her for 36th on the all-time wins list.

51 – Lydia Ko has made 51 consecutive cuts on the LPGA Tour

65 – Park’s final round 65 tied the second lowest round of the tournament

6,241 – The amount donated by Lydia Ko after her T41 finish.

All In For Nepal

Lydia Ko will write a check for $6,241 to the International Red Cross for relief efforts for victims of the Nepal earthquake. She was hoping she’d make more this week to donate but after an opening round, uncharacteristic 4-over 75, Ko was just glad she got a check to donate at all.

“I didn’t know if I was going to be able to make the cut or even make a donation from this event,” Ko said. “But luckily I was able to play all four days, but yeah, you know, the last three days was a lot of grinding, but I’m happy that I can contribute.

What Ko’s hoping is that her donation will spur more people into action, and that this week has brought more notoriety to the cause. She remembers seeing how New Zealand was impacted by an earthquake a couple years ago and the time and effort it takes to return things to normalcy.

“I mean it’s a very unfortunate thing that happened, and obviously the earthquake Nepal was heard all around the world,” Ko said. “But I hope that with what I did in my press with me donating, I wish other people will contribute also and just be more aware of the things that are going on there.”

Wounded Warrior Project Update

Ten eagles were recorded Sunday at the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout Presented by JTBC. The ten eagles combined with one eagle on Saturday makes the weekend total eleven eagles, making this weeks donations $11,000. The season total amount of eagles is 93 and has now reached $93,000.

Wounded Warrior Project® Weekends is a season-long charity program that will be tied into the Race to the CME Globe. Each Saturday and Sunday at LPGA tournaments, CME Group will donate $1,000 to Wounded Warrior Project® for each eagle that is recorded. This amount will increase to $5,000 for each eagle during the weekend of the CME Group Tour Championship and a formal check will be presented to the Wounded War¬rior Project® during the trophy ceremony at the CME Group Tour Championship. To get involved and learn more, visit woundedwarriorproject.org.

Round 3 Notes and Interviews

May 21, 2015

Coming In Hot

Brooke Henderson won’t lie – she wanted the lead on Sunday the way she had it last week. But at 8-under-par for the tournament, one shot back, Henderson’s in prime position to vault herself into the LPGA record books with a win as only the third player under the age of 18 to ever get a win on the LPGA Tour.

“I like where I am right now,” Henderson said. “I would have liked the lead. Can’t go wrong with that. But I think I really like the position one back and 18 holes.”

18 holes from becoming the first Monday qualifier since 2000 to win on the LPGA Tour. 18 holes away from becoming the first Canadian to emerge victorious since Lorie Kane in 2001. And 18 holes away from stealing a title from two of the greatest players in the world – Lexi Thompson and Inbee Park.

“It’s definitely going to be a fun day. Great players, amazing players, and definitely role models for me and everyone out here,” Henderson said. “I’ve just got to play my game and see what happens.”

With 63 LPGA wins collectively among the five players within one shot of the lead, Henderson knows it’s going to take her Sunday best to emerge with her first.

“The leaderboard is bunched. There’s so many people within one, two, even three shots,” Henderson said. “It’s all packed. I’m glad I’m right in there, and just got to play really well tomorrow.”

 

Hometown Hustle

 

Texas Christian University alum and Tour veteran, Angela Stanford, will head into the final round 8-under-par, just one-shot behind the leaders. Stanford fired another 67 Saturday to make the push into T3.

Stanford has had a successful week out here at the Las Colinas Country Club playing in front of her home crowd. But as nice as it is to see familiar faces, it has created a bit of a kink in her routine.

“I’ve just been trying to go home, but just talking to people and saying hi to everyone, that’s not my normal week.” Stanford said. “My normal week is I might have my parents there, I might have some friends there.”

This week’s schedule, between working and seeing friends and family, has kept her quite busy and it is definitely an adjustment for Stanford.

“It’s been a fun week,” Stanford said. “But I told my friends, I’m kind of running on fumes.  I’m kind of tired.”

Stanford has one more round to hold on and make a push for the title here at Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout Presented by JTBC and she’s not going to let her fatigue get in the way of the chance to win in front of her parents for the first time.

“But when you get out here and you kind of feel the energy from everybody,” Stanford said. “I feel like I’ve been running on adrenaline all week.  It’s been good… I wouldn’t trade it for any of it.”

 

Slinging The Tour Sauce

 

Ha Na Jang celebrated her 23rd birthday Saturday by slinging a little tour sauce on an 89-yard wedge at the seventh. The LPGA rookie’s third at the par-5 seventh hopped twice, the second

landing about five feet past the hole, then sucked back like Jang was

controlling it like a yoyo and it disappeared beneath earth for an eagle.

“It’s my good present at No. 7, an eagle. Good present, right?” Jang said.

A good present indeed, and a gift that elicited a two hands over the hand double jump celebration of pure joy.

“Oh, this is tap-in birdie, definitely tap-in birdie,” Jang said she was thinking when the shot was in the air. “But woo hoo, nice eagle! Everybody said

Happy Birthday Ha Na! It’s a very good present. It feels very nice.”

 

Comfort in Confidence

 

Rolex Ranking No. 11 Lexi Thompson will tee off with co-leader Inbee Park in the final group Sunday. Thompson has been towards the top of the leaderboard throughout the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout and is looking more comfortable with the recent changes in her game.

Besides working on her mental game that Thompson mentioned recently, she has also made some adjustments with her putting.

“Just a little bit at setup and then my path and my stroke,” Thompson said. “So it was definitely a big change for me, but it was a change that needed to be made, and I’m just getting used to it right now.”

Thompson has had 88 putts through her three rounds here in Irving and looks to gain more confidence and comfort with her putting as she does with the rest of her game.

“I’m definitely going to putt some, just do a few drills just to get that confidence going into tomorrow, but I’m not going to hit any balls,” Thompson said. “I’m feeling really comfortable off the tee and with my iron shots.  It’s just all a matter of confidence out there.”

 

Double Trouble

Following the completion of play Saturday, there was a secondary cut for the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout. The cut was set to the top 50 and ties, which fell at even par. Fifty-one players will compete Sunday, trying to go low making it a true “shootout”.

 

Numbers to Know

- Number of  players within two shots of the lead

19 – Number of players within five shots of the lead

41 – Karrie Webb has 41 Tour wins and is looking for her 42nd Sunday.

51 – 51 players made the second cut at even par.

63 - Number of Tour wins by the top five on the leaderboard.

2000 – The last time a Monday qualifier won on the LPGA Tour

2001 - The last time a Canadian won on the LPGA Tour

 

Quote of the Day

“Well, playing rounds like that is fun. I would have told you on Thursday that I wasn’t a big fan of golf at the time. Now two days later everything feels good.”

– Karrie Webb

 

Quick Links

2nd Round Notes and Interviews

May 2, 2015

Golf is said to be timeless and there’s never been a leaderboard that’s epitomized this more than after the second round with 17-year-old Brooke Henderson atop the leaderboard and 54-year-old Juli Inkster hanging one shot and a slot below in second with the No. 2 player in the world, Inbee Park.

“You don’t see it in any other sport, so it is cool,” Inkster said. “I think that’s what intrigues everybody about golf, no matter if you take it up at 40 or take it up at 10, it’s just an addicting sport.”

This is now back-to-back Fridays that the 17-year-old Canadian has fired a 65 to vault into the lead. Henderson narrowly was edged by a shot last week by Morgan Pressel and Lydia Ko, who went on to win, but she no longer has to deal with the uncertainty of the unknown that comes with playing with a lead on the weekend for the first time as a professional.

“Just the way I feel around the golf course. I’m very much a feel player,” Henderson said, “and I had a lot of emotions, and I really don’t know how to explain it, but just the way I feel. I learned a lot from the atmosphere last week and just watching some of the other players.”

With a win, Henderson would become the first Monday qualifier to win since Laurel Kean at the 2000 State Farm LPGA Classic, and the first Canadian in the winner’s circle since Lorie Kane in 2001. Henderson would also join Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson as the only players in LPGA Tour history with a victory before turning 18.

Records are also up for grabs with a win by Inkster. She could become the oldest to win an LPGA event by a little more than eight years with a win on Sunday.

World No. 1 Ko, who is around six months older, stole the victory away from Henderson a week ago in the final round, but the seven-time LPGA winner walked away impressed with what her younger peer has been able to do the last two weeks.

“I knew Brooke was a very talented golfer. I feel like she’s quite aggressive and she’s holing a lot of putts, she’s striking the ball very well,” Ko said. “Especially seeing how well she played under the pressure last week, I wasn’t surprised that she’s still on top of the leaderboard today. Shows how talented and what a great golfer she is. She slept at the airport that Sunday night and then to shoot an under-par round is pretty awesome.”

If anyone knows what it takes to maintain a lead on the LPGA Tour as a teen, it’s Ko. Seven times a tournament’s been won by a player under the age of 18. Ko owns six of those, and Henderson’s hoping she can finish what she started last week and emulate Ko.

“I think it’s really cool what she’s doing,” Henderson said of Ko, “and she’s definitely been a role model for me, an incredible journey that she’s been on the last couple of years, and I hope to follow in her footsteps.”

Mi Hyang Lee (66), Hee Young Park (67), Karine Icher (69) and Lexi Thompson (69) are all tied for fourth at 6-under-par, two shots back of the Henderson’s solo lead.

Lydia Ko (68) narrowly made the cut on the number Friday, securing her streak of a made cut in every single one of her 51 starts with a bogey-free, back-nine 3-under-par 33 to hit the number exactly.

 

Inkster Vies for 32nd Title

Candid honesty is expected with Juli Inkster but it was still nonetheless surprising to hear the 31-time LPGA winner say that she wasn’t looking forward to winning after Thursday’s first round when she surged into a share of the lead with 5-under 66 before Henderson stole it back in the afternoon wave. Inkster’s candidness didn’t come without merit, though. At 54, she would be eight years older than the record of 46 if she were to win, and she’d posted impressive first rounds at the ANA Inspiration and Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in back-to-back starts before falling down the leaderboard in the second round.

That didn’t happen Friday. Instead, Inkster continued to surge, putting together a 3-under-par 68 to move to 7-under for the tournament – one shot back of Brooke Henderson’s lead. As a result, Inkster wanted to clarify her choice of words after Thursday’s round when asked Friday.

“I never said I’m not planning on it, I’m just not counting my chickens before they hatch,” she said. “I mean, I’ve got a lot of golf left and there’s a lot of great players out there, and everybody is kind of bunched up. You know, they wanted a shootout, that’s probably what they’re going to get.”

Nevertheless, Inkster exited the scorer’s tent pleased that she’d stiff armed her second-round issues and didn’t allow them to creep in for a third straight week.

“I three-putted the first hole and had a really – didn’t hit a very good iron in there and had a really long putt and it lipped out,” Inkster said. “But you know what, I knew I was hitting the ball good and I knew I was hitting the ball good and I knew I was going to have a lot of opportunities, so I stayed patient and got a few birdies going, and then my round kind of turned around.”

Inkster’s got a new coach she’s been working with recently, Jeff Brehaut, and says she’s found more distance. The gist of their work has centered on ensuring she stays a bit more behind the golf ball, and the tweaks have “helped out a lot.”

It shows, and Inkster’s game continues to remain timeless. Natalie Gulbis laughed, saying that Inkster’s success might make a few girls hold off on pulling the trigger on retirement in the coming years, and the uniqueness of a 54-year-old competing, beating and even leading against the world’s best hasn’t been lost on Inkster.

“Well, you don’t see it any other sports, so it’s cool,” Inkster said. “I think that’s what intrigues everybody about golf, no matter if you take it up at 40 or take it up at 10, it’s just an addicting sport.”

 

PARK BACK WHERE SHE ALWAYS IS IN CONTENTION

Rarely a tournament goes by when Inbee Park, the 2013 champ here at the North Texas Shootout Presented by JTBC, isn’t in contention at some point. That happened when Park posted her worst finish of the season – a tie for 18th – last week at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. But after a second-round, bogey-free 5-under 66, she’s right back where LPGA fans expect her to be in the thick of contention, one shot back of Henderson.

“I think a couple birdies on the last two holes will definitely help going into the weekend,” Park said, “and I know how this golf course plays because I won here a couple years ago, so yeah, I mean, I’m still going to need to shoot a couple good rounds, but yeah, I feel like I’m in good shape.”

Thus far this week, Park’s needed only 53 putts for two rounds, and that’s the biggest difference between this week and last.

“I feel like I’m getting a lot of looks at birdie, as well, and a lot of the putts last week, I just knew straightaway I was missing,” Park said. “But this week I’m hitting a lot of good putts, even if it’s not going in. I’m just really close. Yeah, I feel like my stroke is much better.”

 

Lee Propelled by Hole-In-One – and New Car

Approaching her second to last hole of the day during the first round Thursday, Mi Hyang Lee hit a high arching sixth iron that kicked slightly left towards the hole and scooted right towards the hole. It took a plunge below the surface a couple feet later, earned her a brand new Kia K900, and earned her some key momentum heading into the second round.

Ultimately, it might be that momentum that proves just as lucrative as the car as Lee fired a bogey-free 5-under 66 Friday to vault into contention.

Lee secured her first career win a little more than six months ago with a win in a three-way, five-hole playoff. And although it’s been an up-and-down season to start 2015 with two top-10s in nine starts, Lee is feeling the confidence of last year’s win.

“After Mizuno I have a lot of confidence, so that’s changed my golf,” she said. “I didn’t change anything but just my mind is a little bit changed, so I more think positive and then more confident.”

She’ll be paired with _ in Saturday’s third round, while her favorite player – Juli Inkster – is in the group behind.

“Oh, she’s my favorite player because I want to be playing a long time like her,” Lee said. “Then actually her daughter is older than me, so like she’s amazing, and a great player.”

 

Stress-Free Lexi

2014 ANA Champion and Rolex Rankings No. 11, Lexi Thompson, kept up her steady play Friday with a 2-under round to head to the clubhouse 6-under-par for the tournament.

Thompson’s round did not have a thrilling start, hitting pars on her first five holes. After the turn, Thompson looked like she might take a wrong turn with a bogey on ten, but followed it up with two birdies on the back nine.

“I’m just focusing on staying positive,” Thompson said. “Even if I hit a bad shot, just going to the next one very positive. I’m working with John Denney down in South Florida, and he’s just been focusing on my routine and breathing.”

Keeping a positive mindset has shown it’s benefits in Thompson’s game this week as she sets herself up to contention heading into the weekend at the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout.

“It’s a lot less stress during the whole day,” Thompson said. “And I mean, if you go into a shot more positive and just saying you’re going to pull this shot off, it’s amazing how much it works.”

 

Texas Tidbits

University of Texas alum and breast-cancer survivor, Lisa Ferrero, made the initial cut Friday after shooting 2-under to finish the day 1-over-par for the tournament. This is the third cut she has made since returning to competition this year on Tour.

Texas A&M University’s, Marijosse Navarro, was able to work some magic during her second-round and finish just on the cutline at 1-over-par.

“It would be awesome,” Navarro said. “It would be like, I don’t know, qualifying for another tournament (to make the cut), just trying to do my best and keep it up.”

 

Numbers to Know

2 - Number of daughters Juli Inkster has older than Brooke Henderson.

7 - Number of wins by a player under the age of 18 – six by Lydia Ko and one by Lexi Thompson – in LPGA history.

8 – The number of years by which Juli Inkster would break the record for oldest to win if she emerged victorious on Sunday.

51 – Lydia Ko has now made 51 consecutive cuts on the LPGA Tour

71 - Number of players making the cut at +1

2000 – The last time a Monday qualifier won on the LPGA Tour

2001 - The last time a Canadian won on the LPGA Tour

 

 

Opening Round Notes and Interviews

May 1, 2015

All the attention leading into this week was on the youngsters – Rolex World Golf Rankings No. 1 Lydia Ko (18) and 17-year-old Brooke Henderson, who just finished in solo third a week ago – but at the conclusion of the first round, everyone was staring up at two veterans – Juli Inkster and Cristie Kerr – who have a combined 48 wins and nine major championships amongst them.

Inkster, Kerr, and Sydnee Michaels all fired 5-under-par 66s on Thursday to take a one-shot lead at the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout Presented by JTBC.

 Inkster, the 2015 United States Solheim Cup Captain, has had a string of impressive first rounds recently. She was just two back after the first round at the ANA

Inspiration after a 3-under 69 and was just one shot back after the first round last week at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic Presented by CTBC. She ultimately finished in a tie for 64th and a tie for 15th, respectively, but has certainly seen her game trending in the right direction.

“I’ve been playing pretty good,” Inkster said. “I’ve been trying to slowly by slowly get a little confidence back in my game, and even last week, I didn’t play too bad on Friday and Saturday, it was just tough conditions.” Kerr, after winning a month ago at the Kia Classic, didn’t arrive feeling the same about her game. Since her win, she’d been frustrated with consecutive finishes of T41, T7 and T18.

“I saw my coach this week,” Kerr said. “I had struggled with my ball-striking the last couple weeks, and it was nice to hit some really pure shots out there today.”

Michaels went out in the last group of the day and posted a bogey-free round with a birdie at the par-3 17th to jump into the group with Inkster and Kerr.

“I just hit a lot of good shots, and I made a few good putts in the beginning,” Michaels said. “I just felt really confident today.”

It’s a crowded leaderboard at the top, though, with 10 players – Lexi Thompson, Karine Icher, Angela Stanford, Sandra Gal, Gerina Piller, Wei-Ling Hsu, Alena Sharp, Maria Hernandez, Ryann O’Toole, and Natalie Gulbis – all just one shot back of the co-leaders. As a result, Inkster’s not getting ahead of herself of thinking she could best Beth Daniel by a little more than eight years as the oldest winner on the LPGA Tour.

“I’m not really looking forward to winning,” Inkster said. “I mean, I’ve played good at first rounds and really haven’t played good my second rounds, so I’m looking forward to going out there. I drove the ball really well today and hit a lot of good iron shots, so that’s what I’m looking forward to doing tomorrow, and add them up and see how I’m doing.”

Tree Climbing Ko-Nonundrum

Lydia Ko hit her second shot into the 14th hole well over the back right of the green and was left with two options for her approach – over or under the large tree protecting the green. She chose the former and her lob shot decided to not only hit the tree but stick around for a while. Her caddie, Jason Hamilton, went to retrieve it, taking a lift from a
fellow caddie to propel himself up the limbs. Despite three to four minutes of shaking of the branch, Ko’s ball never came down and a triple bogey ensued. A double bogey followed at the 15th after Ko dumped it into the water, and suddenly a 2-under-par round was down to 3-over-par and Ko finished with a disappointing 4-over-par 75 after winning a week ago at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic Presented by CTBC.

“Those two holes I was 5-over-par, so what can you do?” Ko said. “I was going to hit it over that tree, I would have never imagined for it to be stuck up there. Yeah, you just get those days where the things that you least expect happens. Can’t do much. On the next hole I didn’t really hit a good tee shot, and then it’s kind of tough when you’re hitting out of the rough trying to get over water, and I put myself in the worst position for there. Just those two holes, it was tough.”

Ko’s streak of 50 consecutive made cuts may now be in serious jeopardy, but Ko did leave impressed with her caddie’s agility.

“I didn’t know he was that good at climbing trees and monkey bars, so he must have done that when he was in elementary school,” Ko said, “but that’s a while ago, too. It’s good to know that my caddie is always there to support me and to do what’s best for me. At the end of the day he didn’t really need to go up the tree.”

Hamilton had a problem, though, when he got up there. The caddie-propelled shove up had left him in a higher spot than he had imagined and with a bit of a conundrum as to how to get down. He looked down for a second and went for it, completing the tree conquest without injury.

“It was a little hairy,” Hamilton said. “Once I was up there, I didn’t think about getting down until I was up there. I just had to figure it out on the fly.”

Only once before had Hamilton had a player hit it in a tree and it not come down. That was in Palm Springs, though, and he said he wasn’t about to go up the spiky palm tree it had nestled in. But he did this time.

“I haven’t got up that high before,” he said with a laugh. “That was probably a new record for me. I’m too old for climbing trees.

“I was hanging on pretty tight. I didn’t want to fall out.”

LPGA EXPLANATION ON LYDIA KO RULING ON NO. 14

The officials involved in the ruling with Lydia Ko today on the 14th hole referenced Decision 27/12 to support their ruling.  Due to the fact that it was roughly a 30-yard shot, the spectators were able to see Lydia’s ball from start to finish and therefore provided indisputable evidence that the ball in the tree was indeed Lydia’s ball. Therefore the ball did not need to be identified as it was never lost. The USGA confirmed that in a situation where observers indisputably saw the player’s ball in motion come to rest in a specific location at which the ball remains visible, the ball has been identified as the player’s ball. Thus, since the ball in the tree was deemed as Lydia’s ball, she was then able to proceed under Rule 28 – Ball Unplayable.

Decision 27/12: Identification of Ball Through Testimony of Spectator

Q. A’s ball and B’s ball came to rest close together. Neither A nor B could identify one of the balls as his ball because they were using balls with identical markings.  A spectator who saw both shots land was able to state which ball belonged to A and which one belonged to B. May his testimony be accepted, or should both balls be deemed lost because they could not be identified by A and B?

A. If the Committee determined that, based on information given by the spectator, A and B were able to identify their balls, the balls should not be deemed lost. Otherwise, they would have to proceed under Rule 27-1.

Gulbis Back But Not For Long

A familiar face headed into the clubhouse Thursday towards the top of the leaderboard at 4-under-par. Tour veteran, Natalie Gulbis, has been in and out of competition battling a hip injury, but is finally back in action this year.

“I feel great,” Gulbis said. “I spend a lot of time in physical therapy, and – almost still, all the time, but I feel good now.”

Gulbis shot a 67 and just missed a birdie on her 18th that would have left her tied for the lead with Cristie Kerr and Juli Inkster. Although Gulbis is back to being a strong competitor on Tour, she is not sure how long she will be out here.

“Until I have kids,” Gulbis said. “So hopefully I have kids sooner than later, but at least through this year.”

Co-leaders Inkster and Kerr have continued to play on Tour after having children and when asked if it provides motivation for Gulbis to start a family while on Tour she didn’t hesitate to admire them.

“Juli is awesome,” Gulbis said. “She’s an anomaly though…but I think that’s what’s cool about golf is you can have so many different generations competing and can play.”

Inkster’s ability to balance family and the Tour’s season didn’t seem to sway Gulbis’ view on whether she will be out on Tour after having kids in the future.

“No, I don’t think so,” Gulbis said. “Maybe coming back out to cheer for the younger players.”

Inkster – Playing Captain?

When Juli Inkster heads towards the scorer’s tent, she typically shoots a glance towards the leaderboard by the green. She’s not looking to see where she stands. Instead, the 2015 United States Solheim Cup Captain is looking to see where her girls are at. What she saw Thursday was a leaderboard to her liking with seven American flags besides her own within a shot of the lead.

“I look at the American flags and see who’s up there and see who’s playing well,” Inkster said. “The last four or five weeks, a lot of people have made a big move and have been playing some really good golf, so that’s fun to watch. Those last four spots are pretty wide open. Every round, every shot really means a lot.”

It’s got her thinking that maybe she should take former President Bush and the former First Lady Laura Bush with her to Germany after members fighting to be on the team had dinner with them on Monday night – a trip Inkster called “probably one of the top three things I’ve ever done.”

“Everybody got on the bus when we were going home, and I could see it in their eyes that they also felt that it was a really special occasion,” Inkster said. “Something that you maybe only get to do once in your lifetime.”

While the red, white and blue themed leaderboard Thursday has Inkster with grand visions of who she might be able to talk into coming to Germany, her 5-under-66 on Thursday doesn’t have her thinking that playing captain at the Solheim Cup is in the cards.

“No, I look at my cards,” Inkster said when asked. I’ve got a lot of great American flags up on that leaderboard, so I think they’ll be able to do a job for me.”

GET YOUR MIND RIGHT!

Rolex World Rankings No. 11 Lexi Thompson came out strong for the first round of the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout Presented by JTBC. The 20-year-old shot 4-under-par (67) Thursday to join the group of players tied for
second.

The course at Las Colinas Country Club is suited for the long-driver and Thompson’s game matches up well with the course. But it was not her driving distance that Thompson credits her 4-under-par round to, she credits her mindset.

“Overall just a very steady round,” Thompson said. “Very happy with the way I stayed positive.”

Having a strong mental game is just as important as your distance out on the course and Thompson knew that she needed to make a few tweaks in order to get back on towards the top of the leaderboard. The 2014 ANA Inspiration Champion has been focusing on her mindset on the course and looks to see how it will pan out.

“Not getting ahead of myself,” Thompson said. “Focusing on doing my routine, I’ve been working on the mental side of the game with John Denney there in South Florida, so we’ll see where it goes.”

Feeling at Home on the Greens

All week long the players have been talking about the great conditions of the greens at Las Colinas Country Club and players were able to take advantage of the greens Thursday to jump towards the top of the leaderboard.

Co-leader and Fort Worth resident, Gerina Piller, was able to drop a few more putts and credited her short game for her positive momentum.

“I’ve been working hard on my putting,” Piller said. “You know how it is with putting, you get that rock rolling, and that’s kind of where it all starts.”

Another Texas native and Tour veteran, Angela Stanford, was able to use her putting to propel her first round, finishing with a birdie on 18 and tallying up only 26 putts for the day.

“My putter was hot today for some reason,” Stanford said. “so that was fun. It’s always fun to watch the ball go in the hole…it’s nice to have days like that to make you believe in what you’re doing.”

The short game seemed to be the difference Thursday as players made their way to the clubhouse. Defending Champ, Stacy Lewis, sits three shots back from the lead and after a brief struggle with her putting on the front nine, Lewis was able to get back on track.

“The greens have been rolling great all week,” Lewis said. “That hasn’t been an issue, so you have no excuse for not making putts.”

Numbers to Know

8 – Eight Americans among the top 13 of the leaderboard

10 - Number of players one shot back of the lead

48 - Combined wins of Juli Inkster and Cristie Kerr, two of the three co-leaders.

50 – Lydia Ko has made 50 consecutive cuts on the LPGA Tour

68 – Michelle Wie’s 3-under 68 is her best opening round score of the year

2011 - The last time Juli Inkster held a share of the first round lead came at the 2011 Lorena Ochoa Invitational

Quick Links

2015 Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout Championship Pro-Am Results

April 30, 2015

pro-am-winners

1st Gross

  • LPGA Professionals: Gerina Piller, Julieta Granada
  • Amateurs: Diane Butler, Matt Norman, John Andrews, Steve White

 

1st Net  

  • LPGA Professionals: Lexi Thompson, Morgan Pressel
  • Amateurs: Paulette Brody, Jennifer Magnatta, Susan Palmer, Carla Glasgow

 

2nd Net

  • LPGA Professionals: Caroline Masson, Jennifer Johnson
  • Amateurs: Katherine DiPietro, Monica Chamberlain, Gina Vincent, Carol Alvarez

 

3rd Net

  • LPGA Professionals: Stacy Lewis, Paula Reto
  • Amateurs: Melisa Denis, Juli Spottiswood, Marlo Cormier, John Buser

 

Top Women’s Team 

  • LPGA Professionals: Lexi Thompson, Morgan Pressel
  • Amateurs: Paulette Brody, Jennifer Magnatta, Susan Palmer, Carla Glasgow

Wednesday Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews

April 29, 2015

Lydia Ko, 18, continues to prove she’s wise beyond her years – both on the course and off. The No. 1 player in the Rolex World Golf Rankings announced Wednesday in her pre-tournament press conference at the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout Presented by JTBC that she would donate all of her winnings this week to charities providing relief for the Nepal earthquake.

Although Ko needs only $2,157 this week to push her over the $3 million career earnings mark, none of the money earned this week will go to her bank account.

“Obviously it was very unfortunate when I got to hear that there was an earthquake in Nepal,” Ko said. “We had a big one in New Zealand, too, a couple years ago, and it affected a lot of people. There it was in Christchurch, where we call it the Garden City, but now it still has the name, but there is still evidence of what happened there. Natural disasters you can’t do much about. Sometimes it’s hard to be prepared for it, so I thought, those people there, nice people and very innocent, so I wanted to give this tournament’s earnings and donate it to them.”

While Ko plays for her third win of the year this week- and eighth of her young career – she also will play for Nepal.

WORLD NO. 1 BACK AT IT IN TEXAS

Rolex Rankings World No. 1 Lydia Ko arrives  on the heels of a victory at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic as one well-traveled teenager. But there is one place that she has not been before this week, and that place is Texas. Besides making quick pit stops in the airport, Ko is experiencing the state of Texas for the very first time as she is in town for the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout presented by JTBC.

“This is actually the first time me being in Texas, the whole state,” Ko said. “Hopefully I get a chance to look around and see what it’s like, and yeah, you know, I’ve been liking it so far, apart from the rain the last couple days.”

Although this is Ko’s first trip to the state of Texas, she was familiar with the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex. After all, it was a possible candidate for her home in the U.S.

“Actually before we decided to move to Orlando,” Ko said. “Dallas was another city where we were maybe thinking of moving to.  But yeah, you know, it definitely feels different to Orlando, and it feels quite modern.”

Ko’s experience in Texas this week would not be complete without embracing a few of the Texan ways, and food is one of them.

“Kim Kaufman said I should go and get some Tex Mex is it?” Ko said. “So I might try that.”

HOPING FOR A REPEAT

Stacy Lewis blistered the field here a year ago with a final-round, 7-under 64 to cruise to a six-shot victory, but heading into this event last year she was frustrated. She had yet to win but had played great golf to that point. That win though set off a two-month stretch better than anyone in golf’s last year, winning three times over the course of May and July and posting three additional top-10s in that span.

Lewis is hoping for the same result this year. She’s playing terrific golf in 2015 but she’s yet to get a win. Her lowest finish in eight events is a tie for 15th and she has three runner-ups and three additional top-10 finishes. But a win’s eluded her and she’s hoping that will change here this week like it did a year ago.

“Well, I felt like coming in the tournament last year, I was playing well, kind of had some frustrating finishes, so I knew good golf was coming,” Lewis said, “and it was just kind of one of those things, once I kind of got over the hurdle on Sunday, the floodgates opened, and I’m hoping for that again this year. I’ve had some really close finishes again.

“It’s been another really similar year to last year, pretty consistent, you know, just haven’t quite gotten over the hurdle on Sunday.”

She’s hoping that changes here again a year later. And although she’s had five runner-ups since her last win in Arkansas at the end of last June, Lewis knows she’s on the cusp.

“It’s really hard to complain,” Lewis said. “I made a lot of money, I’m pretty high on the Money List for not having a win. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing because it’s working, and I think one of these days it’ll all come together on Sunday.”

TEXAS PRIDE

The LPGA Tour is in Texas this week and the Tour doesn’t have just one hometown favorite, but multiple hometown favorites this week. There are eleven Texas natives in the field this week, including three players with LPGA wins under their belts.

Three players that are currently residing in Texas – Brittany Lang (McKinney), Angela Stanford (Fort Worth) and Gerina Piller (Fort Worth) – all stressed the importance of having an LPGA event in the state of Texas and what it means to them.

“I love that all my friends get to come enjoy it.” Lang said.  “I think it’s great, too, because we bring out a ton of people from McKinney and Stonebridge and they get a great view of the LPGA and they start following, so it’s great for us.”

Former TCU Horned Frog Angela Stanford emphasized the location of Las Colinas Country Club and how it helps bring familiar faces out to watch the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout.

“Seeing people that they have purple on and they’re yelling, Go Frogs,” Stanford said. “That’s fun.  I actually like the location.  I like it where we can pull from Dallas, we can pull from Fort Worth…the metroplex is so big, you want to be central here to pull everybody.”

For Gerina Piller, playing at home is always great, but sometimes it does create a little confusion in her schedule and regular tournament routine.

“It’s kind of odd because you’re at your house,” Piller said. “And I don’t know about these two girls but I get like this, cleaning out my closet, and I’m like, hold on, you need to stay focused, we’re at a tournament here…but like they said, it’s great just to be somewhere familiar…you just have that feeling and that sense of the connection with the city and the town, and you just feel like you’re    like people are behind you and they’re rooting for you.”

It will not just be the people that will be familiar for the Texas players this week, but the course here at Las Colinas Country Club.

“It’s kind of nice because I know we all have home courses but it’s kind of like a
secondary home,” Stanford said. “That speaks volumes for the people here and the staff here because they have welcomed us and they have welcomed the LPGA, and that’s awesome.”

McKinney resident Brittany Lang admitted that she does not make the drive out to the course here as much as she should, but has still had taken the opportunity to get a few good looks at the course.

“I think I played three rounds recently,” Lang said.  “I played one with Angela and then two with my husband, but it’s good to get out and just learn something else, and the course was soggy the last time, so it’s a completely different course to last year with it being firm last year.”

As for Piller, when she has the chance to be at home during a break from the Tour, she tries to stay away from the golf course. That doesn’t mean that she didn’t have an insider’s perspective on the course though.

“I actually caddied for my husband in a U.S. Open qualifier here before they even had the tournament,” Piller said. “So I was like, yeah, I felt like I had a one up on everybody.”

SINGLE AND READY TO MINGLE

The Rolex Rankings No. 1 player, Lydia Ko, celebrated a big birthday in San Francisco last week. Ko turned 18 years old, and is now officially an “adult.” Ko has found plenty of success on the course, but is now open to finding “success” off the course; she’s ready to enter the dating field she said when asked how she has time to meet guys when playing professional golf.

“I would love a boyfriend,” Ko laughed. “I don’t know what my mom has got to say about that one…it so hard. I always say the guys I meet are either like 10 or they’re 40. I need someone in the middle range..sometimes I see the girls with like boyfriends, and I’m like, man, where did you guys meet each other?”

That doesn’t stop Ko from having a wandering eye at times though.

“When I see a good-looking guy, I go, oh man, he’s good looking,” Ko smiled. “Yeah I’ve still got that girl feeling in there.”

SEEING DOUBLE

The Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout brings unique features to the LPGA’s schedule this year. The
tournament highlights young players with their high school and college shootouts held prior to the start of the
tournament. The top two finishers qualified for this week’s event; Dominique Galloway and Amber Wang were the high school qualifiers and Texas A&M University’s Marijosse Navarro and Oklahoma State University’s Maddie McCrary were the collegiate qualifiers.

In addition to the four qualifiers, the Irving event will have a double-cut format. Following second-round on Friday the cutline will be top-70 and ties, after the third-round Saturday there will be an additional cut of the top-50 and ties.

BRIGHT LIGHTS

Paige Mackenzie, best known these days as a personality on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive, is back to the place where she originally made her name in the golfing world – on the course as an LPGA Tour player. For the last year and half, Mackenzie’s been off of the Tour with a back injury but she’s back and ready to give it a go this week.

“This feels like home to me, being inside the ropes,” Mackenzie said. “It’s all I’ve known as an adult is playing
professional golf and being out here on the LPGA Tour, so for me, yeah,  it feels very, very comfortable. But I’ve never been this nervous before a tournament before. I can’t say that I feel fully ready, buut I don’t know if there’s ever a ready.”

Mackenzie planned on playing about 10 events entering this season, while maintaining her role on Morning Drive, but her back injury took longer to heal than she thought. So although she might not get in a full 10 events, she’s still planning on keeping her day job and her original job. Her goal for this renewed journey is simply to in the short term, finish this tournament healthy. And in the long term, to keep her LPGA Tour card for 2016.

“I wouldn’t be playing right now if it weren’t for Golf Channel because I would have quit,” Mackenzie says bluntly. “I wouldn’t have been able to afford to maybe be able to come back becauase there were moments even after surgery where I didn’t think I was ever going to play golf again, so there’s noway that I would have put myself through that financial stress of waiting to see, a year and half later. I would have sought a different direction. It’s more than a plan B for me. Like it really kind of saved my Plan A. You know what I mean?”

In a way, though, both her plan A and plan B couldn’t be anymore similar. Both require performing in front of an
audience when the camera’s on, and she gets the same adrenaline rush on the first tee as she does when Morning Drive goes live.

“In both cases you have to have a relaxed control of your adrenaline,” Mackenzie said. “The moment you get uptight on the golf course, you hit a bad shot. The moment you get uptight on television, you lose your train of thought or your mouth is moving faster than your brain and then you get in real trouble, so it’s interesting because they both require that same type of relaxed – I don’t how else to describe it, relaxed adrenaline.”

NUMBERS TO KNOW

3 – Sei Young Kim has now posted three consecutive top-10s and has six top-10s in nine starts.

5 – Lydia Ko has now won five of her last 26 LPGA starts.

6 – Number of shots Stacy Lewis won by here a year ago.

16 – Stacy Lewis hit 16-under-par a year ago in her win.

64 – Stacy Lewis’ final round here a year ago – a 7-under-par 64.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I said, ‘If you give Lydia two chances at making birdie with a wedge, she’s probably going to beat you. I wasn’t
surprised at all to see her pull that out.”

– Stacy Lewis on Lydia Ko’s playoff win

Thursday and Friday Pairings Set for Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout Presented by JTBC

April 28, 2015

Thursday and Friday pairings have been set for the 2015 Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout Presented by JTBC.  PDF links to alphabetical and chronological pairings are listed below.

 

Round 1 – Alphabetical Pairings PDF

Round 2 – Alphabetical Pairings PDF

Round 1 – Chronological Pairings PDF

Round 2 – Chronological Pairings PDF

Final Pairings for the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout Official Pro-Am

April 28, 2015

Final pairings have been set for the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout Official Pro-Am for Wednesday, April 29, 2015.

Click Here to Download the Pro-Am Pairings PDF