Ricoh Women’s British Open: Forget the weather forecast – it’s time for women’s golf to shine

Due to the 2012 Olympics the Ricoh Women’s British Open was moved from July to September and time of year might have a major impact on the final results.  Why?  Because right now the big story reported from Royal LIverpool at Holylake is the weather. The players faced cold, wind, and even hail during the Pro-Am. Here is a quick video Natalie Gulbis posted from yesterday’s Pro-Am.

Of course after bad weather comes beauty as shown in this tweeted photo from Brittany Lincicome.

LPGA Player, B. Lincicome, tweets a photo of a rainbow from Royal Liverpool GC

Given the tough conditions of the weather, which golfer will shine?  What will be the “big story” (other than the weather) at the end of the tournament on Sunday?  The questions on my mind are:

(1) Will Yani Tseng win back to back Women’s British Opens and end the slump she has been in the last few months?  At the beginning of the golf season all the golf pundits were predicting another big run for Tseng but she shocked the golf world with her poor play this summer.

(2) Can Paula Creamer rebound after the loss to Jiyal Shin last week at the Kingsmill Championship?  It was a disappointing blow to Creamer to 3-putt on the final hole which forced her into a sudden-death playoff and ultimately lost with another 3-putt on the 9th playoff hole.

(3) Will Stacy Lewis win another major and finally get the respect she deserves?  Lewis is the top ranked American player and ranked #2 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings yet she still does not seem to get the exposure that other lesser ranked players get from the golf media.  However, I was happy to see that the Adam Schupak wrote a New York Times article yesterday titled Women’s Golf Money Leader Could End U.S. Drought.

(4) How will Lydia Ko perform playing links golf and will she outshine the professionals?  She has the buzz coming off her amazing win at the Canadian Open this year.  The golf writers are already focused on Ko based on the tweet (below) from Kraig Kann, the Chief Communications Officer for the LPGA.

Lydia Ko is already facing big crowds  in the Media Center at Royal Liverpool

(5) If not the youngest player, Lydia Ko, will one of the “seasoned” players have a moment of glory?  Juli Inkster is at the open on a “medical exemption” (i.e. she is back after recovering from elbow surgery and has not played the full year so she was given a special exception).  I don’t think Inkster will contend given the short amount of time she has played this year.  Perhaps another “grand dame” might have a go at it.  I’ll be keeping my eye on Laura Davies, a 48-year-old British golfer with 45 careers wins (including 4 Majors and 20 LPGA tournament wins).  If the wind is up and experience counts, Davies might just have a chance to tame the links.

There are so many other scenarios that could take place.  Another Asian golf star (other than Yani Tseng) could win.  A player that has been struggling all year (Michelle Wie comes to mind) could suddenly get her game back and win.  Or a rookie (hopefully, Lexi Thompson) could thrill the crowd and get her first major. Of course, we can’t forget all the excellent Ladies European Tour (LET) players that could hold the trophy at the end of tournament.

Whatever happens this weekend, let’s hope it is an exciting tournament because the Women’s British Open is the major golf event this weekend; and with the PGA taking a week off before the tour championship, this is an opportunity for women’s golf to take the spotlight and shine.

Advertisements

Funny tweets from LPGA golfers

I have been following a number of the LPGA players on twitter and it is really amazing how much information they share about their personal lives.  Yes, they do promote events they are attending and products they use (or should I say endorse) but overall the tweets are not commercial.  In fact, many of the ladies are quite funny.

The best tweets involve photos, food and/or drink, insider jokes, and conversations between players.  Below are some examples.  If you are not familiar with Twitter, I’ll do my best to explain.  One thing to keep in mind is that anytime you see a twitter handle (like @ChristinaKim) just replace it with a name.  Here we go….

Here is a tweet from Christina Kim that represents it all (Photo, Food, Humor – self-deprecation).  Kim replied to a tweet from Nicole Hage.  Hage tweeted a photo showing her recent baking efforts.  Hage says “all done” (and includes a photo) and Kim replies ” You bake, and look like you….”

Christina Kim Tweet to Hage

Now, Kim has been tweeting a lot about her workouts at the gym (which adds to this already funny tweet.)  If you don’t know this…in the tweet above, there is a photo, Kim is the women in the front (that’s Michelle Wei behind her and the photo is from the Solheim Cup).

Nicole Hage

Here is a Photo of Nicole Hage.  I had to add the photo because Kim said  “you bake, and look like you” (so I know my readers would ask, so what does Nicole Hage look like).

Now, many of you who read my blog know I have written about slow play and how it is bad for the game.  So here is a funny tweet between two players about the time it took to play a Pro-Am tournament.

Suzann Petterson Tweet on Pro-AMChristina Kim reply to Pro-Am As you can see, Kim’s reply comes after Pettersens’ text..5:50, Stop exaggerating. Ugh!  The joke is self-evident.  Hopefully, now you get how to read the tweets.

Below is a “tweet conversation” that I loved because the players are exchanging a bit of “teasing” before a match.  Sophie Gustafson and Karen Stupples were scheduled to go head-to-head in match play (this was tweeted the night before the match).

Tweet between Gustafson and Stupples

Gustafson Foot Photo

And, Gustafson attached photo of her foot…to which, Karen later tweeted..love the golf tan.

Here is a great tweet from Karen Stupples regarding a rain delay.

Stupples tweet about rain delay in NJ

I guess as a traveling golfer you see it all.  Here is a photo tweeted from Rachel Connor.

Connor Tweet on Airplane

And how about this tweet from Sophie Gustafson at an airport terminal.  I can’t attach the video but here is a still of the object on the luggage carousel (yup, it’s a Heinken)

Gustafson Video Tweet

There are so many more good tweets I could show but this post would just get too long.  I want to end with two that are not really “funny” like the ones about; but show the great support these players give each other (as friends) on tour.

Kerr tweet to GulbisLincicome Tweet Congrats to OToole

This week, at the ShopRite tournament, the LPGA will promote the use of twitter by adding player’s twitter handles to name tags that go on the back of the caddie’s bib.  Now, as a fan, I already follow my favorites. So the bibs are interesting but I’m not sure it will get me to follow more.  As a marketing professional, I say “good for the LPGA for trying something new;” and I will be interested to see if it impacts individual player’s (i.e. will they get more followers.)  I plan to do my own research and see if I see any spikes in followers for the players.  By the way, the LPGA did tweet about the new name tags.

LPGA Photo Tweet

Finally, are you wondering which LPGA player has the most followers?  Well, it is Natalie Gulbis with 115,855 followers (as of May 28 at 2:38 pm).  This doesn’t surprise me given I wrote a blog post titled “Natalie Gulbis – This golfer is a savvy Marketer.”

LPGA – First Major of the Season

This week the ladies play in the first major, The Kraft Nabisco Championship.  In many ways this is “The Masters” for the women.  I say this because it is their first major of the season (as is The Masters for the men), it has been played at the same course (Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California) since its inaugural tournament (again, The Masters is always played at Augusta National), and the winner jumps into “poppies pond” at the 18th hole as part of the tournament tradition and they are given a bathrobe when they get out of the pond. Many have said the robe is the LPGA’s version of a green jacket (o.k., it is not a green jacket but hey, it’s better than just standing in dripping wet golf clothes).

The tournament was not always a major.  It started in 1972 as the Colgate – Diane Shore tournament.  I remember watching it as a young girl and thinking how exciting it was that the company my dad worked for had a golf tournament.  In 1983 it became a major and the sponsor was Nabisco.  Amy Alcott won in 1983 and two more times.  In fact, in 1991 when she won for the third time she jumped in the pond — this was the beginning of the tradition.  The video below gives a great overview of the history of this tournament.

This year all the golf pundits are saying Yani Tseng will win.  It seems like a “no-brainer” given she has already won 3 times this year, won last week by 5 shots, and is the number one female golfer in the world.  But I’m hoping for an upset like last year.  In 2011, Stacy Lewis beat Tseng by three shots.  Below is a nice video for Stacy Lewis.

Don’t get me wrong.  Yani Tseng is an amazing player but I want an exciting major — and that will only happen if someone can challenge Tseng.  My ideal ending on Sunday would be to see Cristie Kerr go head to head with Yani Tseng and win.

What Does the Natalie Gulbis Swimsuit Photo have to do with Charity?

The Bleacher Report is “the US’s 4th largest sports media site with 25+ million monthly readers,” and they reported that the release of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit photo of Natalie Gulbis was timed perfectly for a charity that is auctioning a chance to caddy for Gulbis in an upcoming LPGA event.

So I went to the site for the charity and to my surprise it is not some big foundation but an Episcopal School in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Not only do they have Natalie Gulbis but they also have the chance to be a caddy for David Love III as an auction item. You can bid on them or “pay now” for one of them for $8,000.

What a windfall from a PR perspective for the Charity. Now, you might think it makes sense that Davis Love is listed because he lives in Charlotte and went to the University of North Carolina (in Charlotte) but how did they get Gulbis?  She did not go to school in North Carolina and she lives in Arizona. I was hoping it was just plain luck on the part of the charity but my curiosity got the best of me and I wanted see if I could find the connection.

Well according to another article I found at Golf Channel, “A parent who works in sports marketing for consulting firm McGladrey helped secure the caddy spots.”  And, surprise, surprise, both golfers are clients of McGladrey.  Also according to the Golf Channel Article, the head of the school said they did not know that the SI swimsuit edition was coming out.  Really?  The parent who works for McGladrey surely knew when their client’s swimsuit press would be released.

Whether or not the school was aware of the PR windfall they were about to get this week is probably not that important; but it is clearly not as big a “coincidence” as the original article in the Bleacher Report implied.  That makes me a little bit sad because it would have been fun if it were just luck. Wouldn’t it have been great if Gulbis was just a person supporting a charity she liked (i.e. no sports marketing connections).  Maybe that makes me a bit of an idealist but it would have been a better “story.”

I guess the only other outstanding question is will someone pay $8,000 to spend 4 or 5 hours to caddy for Gulbis?  We will most likely find out after February 25 (the night of the charity event) — I’m sure the folks at McGladrey are already working on the press release.