Monday, November 21, 2016


2016 LPGA Tour Championship

There was a slight breeze curling down the eighteenth fairway on Sunday morning. Some of the local golfers thought it might affect play later on in the afternoon. But that was not to be, as the day played out---sunny and warm, with a slight puff here and there.

Charley Hull had completed 54 LPGA events without a victory. She atoned for that quite nicely, earning a fine glass goblet, and half a million dollars. There was also a glass globe up for grabs, with three ladies in the running: Canada's Brooke Henderson, Ariya Jutanugarn from Thailand, and Lydia Ko from New Zealand. Along with the globe came a box containing one million dollars.

The tournament was the last one of the season, with its fine prizes. Henderson reflected before the start on Thursday. “I definitely want to give it all I got. Hopefully, I will have a long career in the LPGA. The next season is just a couple of months away. I hope to be able to play my own game, take it shot by shot, and finish the tournament in a good spot.”

The fairways and the greens were lined with Henderson fans all week. I would venture to say that she had more fans at the tournament than any other player. There are thousands of Canadians wintering here, perhaps not as many as in previous years due to the weakness in the Canadian dollar. But they were there to support the girl from Smiths Falls, and you could tell she appreciated the turnout.
That's what her mother told me. Who am I to disagree with her? She shouted out to her friends from the Wellington On The Lake Golf Course, affectionately known as “Nuts and Bolts”! Paul and Sandra previously had a hardware store in Smiths Falls.

When the last putt hit the bottom of the cup, Brooke finished in a tie for 24th place. She had two opening rounds of 72, then the final two rounds of 69. She picked up a cheque for $ 16 236 for her efforts. Last year was her rookie season on the tour. She ranked 90th, earning $ 100 294. She surpassed that amount this year with earnings and prizes close to two million dollars. She turns 21 next September. She will now head home and enjoy a few Ottawa Senators games. Once they begin scoring! (Eleven goals in the last ten games? Ouch!)

Ariya and her sister Moriya will return to Thailand with the box. The head honcho from CME presented to her at the end of the tournament. Lydia Ko was certainly in the running for the title, with a spectacular round of 62 on Friday. She faltered slightly on Saturday and Sunday, and ended the tournament in 11th place. She was most gracious, congratulating Charley and Ariya for their accomplishments.

Remarkably, most of the contenders are very young. Ariya just turned 21, and Lydia will be 20 next April. Charley Hull will be 21 next March. She had a core of fans from her home in Great Britain. She has assumed the torch from Laura Davies, now in the twilight of her career. Davies is in the over 50 group, but made several starts last year on the tour. In 2014, she was appointed “Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire”. I will mind my manners, in her presence!

The course in Naples, called Tiburon, was in great shape. With the Ritz Carlton next door, there are facilities for golfers and administrators. Perfect weather the entire week. I did not see any flurries!

James Hurst
November 21, 2016.

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