LPGA returns to popular Kingsmill

By Associated PressSeptember 6, 2012, 12:38 am

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – It's not the big money, must-attend event it once was, but the LPGA is back on the River Course at Kingsmill this week, and for many, it's a return to one of their favorite stops on tour.

It's also part of a resurgence in the women's game, so much so that a purse that has fallen from $2.2 million when the tour last visited to $1.3 million this time around hardly seems to matter to the field.

Cristie Kerr won twice on the layout when the tournament was sponsored by Anheuser-Busch.

''I think nobody's looked forward to it more than me,'' she said Wednesday. ''I've got great memories here, and I stay with a great family ... and it's such a great time. The golf course is one of my favorites. It's about my favorite on tour, and I've just got good feelings all around when I come here.''

The Bermuda rough is more prevalent than Kerr remembers, and rain in recent days has made it tougher still. But she also hopes her return might help her end a winless drought that started in 2010.

''I felt that walking around the golf course today,'' she said. ''Yeah, I want to win really bad. It's getting to the point where, OK, it's time for one. I'm doing everything in my power to do it, you know?

''It's just got to happen now.''

It might help Kerr's cause that the field isn't as strong as in years past, with only three of the top 10 players in the world. Among the missing are former champions Se Ri Pak, Karrie Webb and Suzann Pettersen, and top-ranked Yani Tseng, who decided to prepare this week for her title defense in the Women's British Open.

The 10th-ranked Kerr, who won in 2005 and 2009, is in the field along with second-ranked Stacy Lewis and No. 5 Ai Miyazato. Others among the favorites of Kingsmill's horde of volunteers and fans are Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer, Juli Inkster and Michelle Wie, who has only one top-10 finish this season.

The tour hopes the field will be stronger next year, when the event will be held in May.

Lexi Thompson knew the event's reputation before she arrived.

''I've heard a lot of great things about the event, just run so well, and they have a lot of activities off the golf course, going to Busch Gardens and everything,'' she said before Wednesday's pro-am.

''I hear a lot of fans come out, and I've gotten to interact with a few of them already. The course is in great shape – a little wet, but it's playing pretty hard, so definitely a little longer.''

Kerr found it the same way and was hoping the forecast for overnight rain would be wrong.

''They got a lot of rain on Saturday and Sunday. It's started to dry out,'' she said. ''The greens are starting to get a little faster, a little bit more smooth, and they should be better by tomorrow.''

Inkster, along with Kerr, Gulbis, Angela Stafford and Lorena Ochoa are the only players to make every cut at Kingsmill, which is along the James River. Many of those courses in and around Virginia reminded her of the places where she grew up playing, with smaller greens and rewards for directional control.

''It's a good ball-strikers' golf course,'' Inkster said. ''It seems like every day it changes a little bit with the wind. When we played in May, you could get one of those nor'easters coming through.''

Play on the 6,384-yard, par-71 layout starts Thursday.

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Lauren Thompson and a giant 'gator eating a turtle

By Grill Room TeamApril 19, 2018, 4:53 pm

Really, the headline says it all.

"Morning Drive" co-host Lauren Thompson was playing the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes on Thursday in Orlando, Fla., when her threesome turned into a foursome, with the appearance of a giant alligator. Techincally, it was a fivesome, as the 'gator had a turtle in its mouth.



Hey, it's a slow news week for Grill Room.

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Sources confirm Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Rex HoggardApril 19, 2018, 2:42 pm

Multiple sources have confirmed to GolfChannel.com that officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation.

Tournament officials scrambled this year after Dean & DeLuca ended its sponsorship of the event just two years into a six-year agreement, pulling together an assortment of local sponsors and renaming the event the Fort Worth Invitational.

Colonial’s status on the PGA Tour schedule became even more uncertain when the PGA Championship announced it would move from August to May, beginning in 2019 as part of a major overhaul of the circuit’s schedule.

According to the Dallas News, and confirmed by multiple sources at the club, officials plan to announce the new long-term agreement with Charles Schwab on Monday that will begin in 2019.

News of a long-term sponsorship deal would also suggest the event will remain in May in 2019 and beyond. The Tour has indicated it plans to announce the ’19 schedule at next month’s Players Championship.

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PNC Extends Title Sponsorship of PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 19, 2018, 1:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2018 – IMG and NBC Sports today announced that The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has extended its contract as title sponsor of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, the tournament that pairs the games’ legends alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

PNC’s multi-year extension as title sponsor keeps the PGA Tour Challenge Event in Orlando reflecting the bank’s commitment to Central Florida. PNC has served as title sponsor of the tournament since 2012. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes will continue to play host to the PNC Father/Son Challenge. The 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 14-16, with television coverage on Golf Channel and NBC.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge long ago became one of my family’s favorite golf tournaments,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. “I have had the pleasure of playing with my sons, and last year, partnering with my 15-year-old grandson GT was a thrill. I am delighted the event—a uniquely special one to us fathers and grandfathers, and perhaps to the many fans out there watching from home or outside the ropes—will continue for many years to come.”

“After our victory in 2016, I said that this win was as good as anything I have done in my career,” said former World No. 1 and major champion David Duval, who alongside his stepson Nick Karavites captured the 2016 title. “I felt blessed to have Nick inside the ropes with me and to have our family surrounding us all week. That’s what makes the PNC Father/Son Challenge so special, and I’m pleased to hear that PNC has extended its support of the event. This golf tournament means so much to all of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in this event.”

The tournament also holds three events in qualifier markets per year. This year they will be in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge allows fans to see golf’s legends playing the game they love alongside those they love most,” said Alastair Johnston, vice chairman, IMG. “We are grateful for PNC’s ongoing support of this unique tournament and we look forward to returning to Orlando to celebrate golf and family for many years to come.”

Community support is a key aspect of the tournament and PNC’s sponsorship. PNC is committed to donating $150,000 annually to local non-profits over the life of its sponsorship. Across six previous years of title sponsorship, PNC has already donated $900,000 to Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to support the “Healthy Families Orange” program. Over the years, PNC has also had the opportunity through this tournament to co-host events for local women in business, to put on clinics and provide free access to the tournament for active military, and even provide a service dog for a local veteran.

"PNC's long-standing sponsorship of the Father/Son Challenge reflects the philanthropic values we share with the PGA Tour and the golf community, as well as our focus on strong relationships,” said Bill Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. “As PNC Bank continues to expand its footprint, the PNC Father/Son tournament helps us gain visibility with new audiences and to strengthen the relationships we enjoy today with more than 8 million retail, wealth, and corporate and institutional banking customers across the country.”

“NBC Sports is extremely proud of our heritage as co-founder for the Father/Son Challenge, one of golf’s most special events that closes out the calendar year on the golf schedule,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports. “Our relationship with PNC Bank elevates this event each year as a must-attend and must-see event for players and fans alike, and we look forward to our continued relationship with PNC Bank for years to come.”

Past winners of the PNC Father/Son Challenge include some of the biggest names in golf including Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), Jack Nicklaus (1999), Bernhard Langer (2005-06, 2014), Davis Love III (2012) and David Duval (2016).  Masters champion Angel Cabrera and his son, Angel Cabrera Jr. captured the 2017 title.

To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS Championship in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters, grandsons and one father – Justin Leonard’s dad, Larry – participate over the years.

The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.

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Fire damages National Golf Links of America clubhouse

By Will GrayApril 19, 2018, 12:55 pm

A fire broke out Wednesday at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., causing "extensive damage" to a portion of the historic course's clubhouse.

According to a 27East.com report, an initial call was made to the Southampton police department about a fire on the roof of the clubhouse at 11:34 a.m. With the club's gates too narrow to fit a fire truck through, more than 100 firefighters from various departments helped douse the flames by transporting water up a hill to the east side of the clubhouse.

The fire was reportedly extinguished by 2:30 p.m., with no injuries requiring medical attention. According to a Golf Digest report, the club was undergoing construction on its outdoor eating area known as "the Birdcage" and that most of the club's historical documents reside on the opposite end of the clubhouse from where the fire broke out and was contained.

Opened in 1911, National Golf Links of America was designed by C.B. MacDonald and hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. The biennial matches returned in 2013 to NGLA, which is often rated among the top courses in the U.S. and sits adjacent to Shinnecock Hills, site of this summer's U.S. Open.