Celebs, music and enjoyable: Nothing else just like the TOC for the LPGA
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – To say the Diamond Resorts Match of Champions is not like another occasion on the LPGA Tour is an understatement. It just like the Sentry TOC, AT&T Pebble Seaside Professional-Am and Waste Administration Phoenix Open rolled into one. It’s a limited-field occasion, open solely to gamers who’ve received the final two years on Tour (the final three years for 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic).
It’s an actual social gathering. Music blares on the driving vary; a DJ entertains opponents on the 18th tee, the place they’ll play cornhole whereas ready to tee off. And nothing can start to arrange a participant for the expertise of attempting to win a Tour occasion whereas Larry the Cable Man is telling jokes.
Brooke Henderson has been a fixture on the occasion, which options 25 professionals and 50 celebrities this yr. She competed and beat almost half the lads within the subject when it was performed as a Champions Tour occasion previous to turning into an LPGA event in 2019. How does she describe the setting to first-timers within the subject?
“It is a week filled with enjoyable,” Henderson mentioned. “Attending to know a number of the celebrities and taking part in with them, they’re actually nice golfers. It is only a totally different ambiance. It is an effective way to start out the season.”
Diamond Resorts TOC: Full-field tee instances | Full protection
Madelene Sagstrom is considered one of six first-timers on this week’s subject. Sagstrom earned a spot because of her maiden victory on the 2020 Gainbridge LPGA Traditional. The Swede, who calls Orlando her residence base within the States, received a sneak peek on the occasion when she got here out to look at her fellow professionals compete final season. This yr, she’ll expertise what it’s like alongside the likes of NBA legend Ray Allen and NFL stalwart Larry Fitzgerald.
“I am actually good at golf and speaking, so I feel this event matches me rather well,” Sagstrom mentioned with fun. “Among the guys are simply phenomenal and so they love taking part in with us. I’ve requested them about what they consider the occasion up to now, and so they love being out right here.”
The expertise received’t be fully overseas to Sagstrom. Tranquilo Golf Course, which yearly hosts the TOC, is Sagstrom’s residence course. She shared some insider ideas with fellow Swede Annika Sorenstam final week when the pair performed a follow spherical collectively. Sorenstam is competing for the primary time within the celeb division.
BY Amy Rogers
— January 20, 2021 at 10:55 AM
On the eve of the LPGA’s 71st season, there’s a way of momentum because the tour begins a brand new chapter in its storied historical past.
“She has received good perception from all of her years taking part in skilled, and I feel it may be enormous for the event to see what she will be able to do in opposition to baseball gamers that hit 350 yards on the market,” Sagstrom mentioned concerning the 72-time LPGA Tour winner.
Sophia Popov can also be making her debut on the occasion. For 2 years, Popov watched from residence, jealous of her fellow professionals who received to tee it up with a bunch of celebrities. In August, she earned her spot within the subject together with her victory on the AIG Girls’s Open.
“You realize, it is superior. You are on the vary. There’s a little little bit of music occurring. You possibly can inform it is a bit bit extra of a enjoyable occasion,” Popov mentioned smiling. “Since holding that trophy in August I have been fairly enthusiastic about this.”
This week, Popov will lean on the recommendation of her fellow professionals who warned her that these celebrities have some actual recreation. They usually can hit it fairly far. However the main champion is dedicated to sticking to her routine and never getting distracted by her taking part in companions.
“It’s important to come to peace with the truth that your golf recreation is completely totally different,” Popov mentioned one LPGA participant advised her. “We hit it straighter and are most likely extra constant gamers, however they’re going to hit some photographs the place they’re outdriving you by 70, 80 yards. You are going like, ‘My God, who’s the professional right here?’ I feel that is essential to differentiate.”