Blomqvist LET Rookie of the Year

By Martin ParkOctober 4, 2004, 4:00 pm
Ladies European TourMinea Blomqvist from Finland took the honors as the Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of the Year on the 2004 on the Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour.
The 19-year-old Finn achieved the award in record breaking fashion and with bags of style at the end of season Catalonia Ladies Masters.
Despite bold efforts from her nearest challengers Linda Wessberg from Sweden and Becky Brewerton from Wales, Blomqvist retained her lead after the final event and added her name to a veritable whos who in womens golf of previous recipients of this coveted title, which includes world No. 1 Annika Srenstam, Laura Davies and Helen Alfredsson.
It has been a lot of fun this year and much more than I expected and it means a lot to me to win this award as there were some very good players as rookies this year, said Blomqvist, who finished in seventh place on the order of merit.
In an incredible maiden season, Blomqvist became the third youngest player in the history of the LET to win an event at just 19-years and 128 days old when she cruised to victory at the OTP Bank Central European Open in Hungary, an event in which she equalled the LET record of the lowest ever score of 62 in her first round.
Two weeks later, Blomqvist announced herself on the world stage with an incredible performance in front of millions of viewers around the globe when she carded her second 62 of her fledgling career in the third round at Sunningdale.
In doing so, Blomqvist became the first player, male or female, to shoot ten under par in a major championship and went on to finish in a tie for eighth in her first major.
There were lots of good memories this year such as playing with Annika in Finland at my home course and especially winning in Hungary. But at the British Open, that is my favourite day, for sure. The previous day I shot 78 and I went from being in contention for the title on the first day, to nearly missing the cut.
I was on the range trying to figure out what went wrong and I began crying and my coach was telling me to calm down and when I started to speak again I began to cry again.
But when I found out I had made the cut I actually said to one of the Finnish newspapers that I dont see any reasons why I cant go out and make nine or ten birdies the following day because I had such a good feeling with my game.
It was really exciting and even going into the press centre and being on TV, it was really a lot of fun.
What makes Blomqvists achievements more incredible was that just over 12 months ago, the platinum blonde was playing amateur junior golf, the highlight of which was when she helped steer the European Junior Solheim Cup team to their first victory over the USA when the teams met at Bogskogens GC in Sweden.
One of my team mates at the Junior Solheim Cup was Louise Stahle who played really well in the British Open and in Sweden this year and we laughed about maybe becoming the first junior players to play in the Big girls Solheim Cup next year. I dont think she is turning professional yet, but I know that I want to be playing in Solheim Cup next year.
It is one of my goals but to play in this event, I think I will need to work very hard at my short game so I will be practising very hard during the winter with my coach Pia (Nilsson). I want to play in it, but I have to become a better player, too.
After the victory over the USA in Sweden, Blomqvist turned professional and attended LET qualifying school with great expectations to gain a card with ease. However, all did not go well and she had to settle for a conditional card to play on the LET.
But after spectacular performances with two victories on the Nedbank Womens Golf Tour in South Africa prior to the LET season starting in Europe, the Finn became an obvious choice for sponsors invitations.
I have to say, I was very lucky as I didnt have that may opportunities to play, so when I did get an invitation, I had to play well.
Every tournament I was way down the list and often the last player to get in to the event so I have been really lucky. I thought I might get five or six events and if I played well, I may get some more wild cards, which I did and then of course, the win in Hungary gave me a three year exemption.
Blomqvist, who idolises the Worlds best women golfer and who also shares the same mentor and coach in Pia Nilsson, wants to play with the best in the world and have cards on two Tours next season.
But with her family in Finland and her boyfriend Roope Kakko, a European Challenge Tour player, it will make life difficult for the teenager.
Naturally, Blomqvist will want to play with the best players in the world, but the youngster some pundits are now calling Minni Annika has admitted she loves the atmosphere on the LET and wants to stay as long as possible.
My boyfriend plays in Europe and I already miss him when I am away for one week, she laughed.
I went to LPGA qualifying school last week and I said to myself that I dont want to come here yet because the European Tour is so much fun and the people are so nice. When you go to the range in the morning everyone says hello and its much more fun and I really like that.
Maybe it will happen, but I want to play most of the season in Europe if I can and hopefully I will get two cards.
In presenting the award, Rob Holt, the managing Director for Ryder Cup Wales said of Blomqvist:
We are proud to be associated with this prestigious award and it truly is a fantastic achievement for Minea in her first year.
To go from playing Junior Solheim Cup to where she is now is really an unprecedented occasion and hopefully Minea will get into the main European Solheim Cup team.
Naturally, it would have been fitting for our own Becky Brewerton to bring the award back home to Wales, but she has been pipped by a truly outstanding performance this year by Minea.
It has also been a great rookie year for Becky and we hope her performances will inspire the growth of womens golf in Wales at a young level. But most of all, with such a disparity of nations competing for the best newcomer award, womens European golf has a lot to look forward to in the future.
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Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.


Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish


U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)


The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself


PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


AT&T Pebble Beach

Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

Travelers Championship

Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts



Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret


Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm