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Show Time For Nicole Castrale

2008 PGA Merchandise ShowYoure 28 years old. Youre ranked No. 25 in the world. And you finished 15th on the 2007 LPGA money list.
Those numbers will fly quite nicely in the golf industry. Which is exactly what Nicole Castrale did Wednesday: She flew on a plane from her Palm Springs area home base to Orlando for the PGA Merchandise Show.
From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday morning she signed autographs in the booth of Ashworth, the company whose clothing she endorses. From 11 to 11:30 she did an interview with GOLF CHANNEL. From 11:30 to 1 p.m. she attended a luncheon with Ashworths executives. From 2:45 to 3:45 she was ushered over to the LPGA booth for more autograph signing. Finally, from 5:30 to 7:30 there was a reception to attend for Ashworths key retailers.
Kind of overwhelming, Castrale said on the first morning of her first appearance at the overwhelming event that is The Show. Obviously my ties are to Ashworth. And Im happy to be here with them. But I wouldnt mind looking around a little.
Looking around The Show, that runs through Saturday, takes a while when you consider that there are 10 miles of aisles and half a million square feet of display space at the enormous Orange County Convention Center.
If you are remotely attracted to golf, you will feel like a kid in a candy store. And Castrale was just one of many golf celebrities on hand. Others included Jim Furyk, Butch Harmon, Fuzzy Zoeller, Johnny Damon, Annika Sorenstam, David Leadbetter, Brandt Snedeker and Charles Howell III.
The Ashworth execs doted over Castrale, and for all kinds of reasons. Shes a rising star on the course. Shes a model citizen off the course. And she looks, well, like a model.
While in the Convention Center, Castrale was never far away from her chaperones - husband Craig and agent, Greg Nared. Yes, thats the same Greg Nared who used to be Tiger Woods main product guy at Nike and, later, served as Michelle Wies agent before he resigned that post.
To Nards credit he never publicly criticized the Wie family. Many others have. He has since started his own company and Castrale is his first major client. They met, Castrale said, through a mutual friend. With his business sense and contacts it was almost a no-brainer going with Greg, she said.
To be sure, Castrale has surrounded herself with respected people at every turn. Her instructor, for the last eight years, has been Billy Harmon, one of the teaching Harmon brothers.
Castrale said she had great fun watching Billy Harmon serve as a panelist on last years Fore Inventors Only show that appeared on GOLF CHANNEL. Billy and all the Harmons are entertainers, she added with a smile,
Castrale broke through with her first win on the LPGA at the Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA in June, stopping World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa in a playoff. She then performed admirably in tough conditions for the winning U.S. Solheim Cup squad in Sweden. And her goals for 2008 include hitting more fairways and greens, winning more tournaments and contending more consistently in the majors.
You acquire respect from the other players when you have won on tour, she said.
Castrale also acquired enough respect from Sorenstam that Annika picked her to play of the Lexus Cup squad captained by Sorenstam. The two have becomes friends.
And, Castrale warns, we should all be watching for a Sorenstam comeback in 2008. You can see it in her eyes, Castrale said.
Friday morning Castrale was scheduled to be back on a plane that would take her back to Palm Springs. Back to work.
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