For the next two days, the Pinehurst Blog will be coming to you live from the LPGA Tour’s Kingsmill Championship, where last year Jiyai Shin needed nine playoff holes (NINE!) to clip Paula Creamer in easily the most exciting finish on the LPGA Tour a year ago.
We’ll give you a behind-the-scenes look at one of the LPGA Tour’s best tournaments of the season, where all 10 of the LPGA’s Top 10 players in the world are entered into the field. Outside the top 10? Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Cristie Kerr, Natalie Gulbis, Michelle Wie, Se Ri Pak, Laura Davies, Juli Inkster – they’re all here, too.
Also here are, heretofore affectionately known (at least to us), the Pinehurst 6. All six players on Tour who are previous North and South Women’s Amateur champions – Austin Ernst (2012), Danielle Kang (2011, Alison Walshe (2007), Tseng (2005), Pressel (04) and Brittany Lang (2003).
Any requests? Leave us a comment below and we’ll try to get to it. Let’s head to the tee.
TUESDAY, APRIL 30 PRACTICE ROUND
9:58 a.m. One of the very cool things to see when you hang around the practice green: the number of players’ caddies who walk up to the previous week’s winning caddie – in this case the looper for World No. 1 Inbee Park – to congratulate him. They’ve been doing that a lot lately.
Paula Creamer arrives at the Kingsmill’s practice green, much to the delight of the fans.
10:15 Paula Creamer arrives to the practice green. Fans had been lining up in the area as soon as her bag appeared in the area – some 20 minutes before she arrived.
Morgan Pressel tees off on the 10th at the Kingsmill’s River Course. This shot brought a loud sigh – and a re-tee.
10:32 As Creamer walks out, Morgan Pressel walks right on by, signing a few autographs for those who recognize her, as she heads from the 9th green to the 10th tee.
Lexi Thompson takes some time to visit with a young fan.
THIS is what the LPGA Tour is selling. Their motto: “See why it’s DIFFERENT out here.” Lexi Thompson took a few minutes to hang out with a young fan.
11 a.m.-3 p.m. A few notes after spending four hours on the range:
- Creamer wasn’t scheduled to play a practice round until later this afternoon, but put in a full day’s work. She spent nearly two hours on the putting green, and then another two hours on the range. She’s methodical with her routine, taking time in between shots, but she was here to work. She’s a bona fide star in golf, and much of it appears to be well-earned.
- Also, Creamer usually has anywhere from 4-5 people around her at all times. She’s accessible to media and fans, but one thing is clear on the LPGA Tour – there are THE stars, and there’s a lot of everybody else.
- Michelle Wie is striking in person, and on the range Tuesday, worked through one of the more unusual practice routines. After working through her bag, Wie interchanged clubs with each shot, going from wedge to driver to long iron to fairway wood, or some combination of that. Seemed odd. And no one has as exaggerated a follow-through as Wie.
- Christina Kim is as hilarious on the range as she is on Twitter. Full force of personality. She’s fun to watch just practicing and interacting with players, caddies, volunteers and fans. You can’t help but root for her.
- In the four hours watching players come, hit and go on the range, no one – NO ONE – had as much power as five-time major champion Yani Tseng. Just a wow factor watching her hit balls. The sound off the club, her rocket-high ball flight and strength was unmatched. And it wasn’t close.
- Karrie Webb is a machine. Not saying that in a bad way. Just a gorgeous, tight, fluid – and repeatable – swing. No wonder she won seven majors – including two U.S. Opens – and is in the Hall of Fame.
- Wie spent a lot of time on her phone. She has the Instagram account to prove it.
- Coming soon – video interviews with Paula Creamer, Karrie Webb and Juli Inkster. Only 15 combined majors and five combined U.S. Open Championships there.
- Just because you’re too polite to ask…no sign of Natalie Gulbis…yet.