Blomqvist LET Rookie of the Year
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.
Ryu thriving again after simple advice from Inbee Park
So Yeon Ryu shared Rolex Player of the Year honors last year.
She reigned as world No. 1 for almost five months.
So when she couldn’t keep her momentum going at year’s start, she got frustrated. She wasn’t happy with two top 10s in her first 11 starts.
“I lost a lot of confidence at the beginning of the year,” Ryu said Thursday as she prepared to lead a strong field as the defending champion in Friday’s start of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. “My expectation level was way too high.”
So she sought the counsel of her pal, world No. 1 Inbee Park, who gave her some plain-spoken advice.
“Get over it,” Park told her. “You know what to do. You’ve done it, so it’s not really a big deal. Don’t worry about it. You were No. 1. You’ve achieved a lot of things as a professional golfer. Just don’t be too hard on yourself.”
Ryu got over it winning the Meijer LPGA Classic last week, the sixth LPGA title of her career, her third in 15 months. She’s feeling good again leading a stellar field this week at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark., a strong tune up before next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the year’s third major championship.
World No. 1 Park, No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson are among the top nine players in the world scheduled to compete this week. Twenty-four of the top 30 are in the field.
“When you come to defend your title, you obviously have a lot of pressure, but after I won last week, now I sort of think, maybe I have a chance to defend my title,” Ryu said. “So I've got total confidence, by last week.”
Watch: Spieth, JT hole bunker shots in back-to-back groups
Jordan Spieth has a thing for holing bunker shots at the Travelers Championship, where he made one in a playoff to win last year.
He did it again in Round 1 at TPC River Highlands, knocking in this shot for eagle at the par-5 sixth to reach 4 under par for the tournament
In the next group, Justin Thomas did the same thing to reach 1 under. Keep an eye out for the best part of this highlight, when Thomas' caddie Jimmy Johnson tries to hand him his putter.
River Highlands a 'breather' for Zach Johnson (63)
CROMWELL, Conn. – After enduring the pressure-cooker of the U.S. Open, Zach Johnson was more than happy to drift north to the friendly confines of TPC River Highlands.
Birdies were rare last week at Shinnecock Hills, but they’ll be plentiful all week long at the Travelers Championship. Browned-out and crispy conditions transitioned to lush and verdant, and players can attack flags without fear of turning a possible par into a struggle to avoid triple.
Johnson did just that in the opening round, carding eight birdies against a single bogey to take the early lead with a 7-under 63.
“It’s a different kind of breathing. It’s a different kind of exhaling, if you will, but they’re both good,” Johnson said. “You can put some red on the board here. We know that. We’ve seen it. You can go the other way in a hurry if you press it; it can keep going in the other way. So you kind of have to let it happen. This is one of those courses where you have to let it happen.”
Like many in this week’s field, Johnson took it easy after a grueling major championship, staying away from the course Monday and easing into his prep over the next two days. Those decisions paid off quickly as he rattled off six straight birdies on Nos. 11-16 to take sole possession of the lead.
While Johnson tied for 12th last week at Shinnecock Hills, that was just his second top-15 finish since the Sony Open in January. But the veteran is no stranger to fast starts at TPC River Highlands, having now opened with 65 or better four times in his last eight appearances dating back to 2011.
It’s a course where he continues to have success, even if his past consistency hasn’t lived up to expectations.
“I feel like every time I get here it feels like I should shoot nothing, and it bites me,” Johnson said. “The last couple years I’m like, ‘All right, you can’t have any expectations in that regard. You’ve just got to go out and execute, you know, put the ball in the fairway and you will have opportunities.’”
First photos from Norman's 'Body' shoot
It was revealed earlier this week that Greg Norman would be one of the athletes showcased in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features the models stategically posed in the nude.
Well, the first photos are out from Norman's shoot and ... here they are, if you want them.
The Shark: a white pointer pic.twitter.com/2HqCKSVdbV— Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich) June 21, 2018
Fore! The Shark as you’ve never seen him in ESPN The Body issue. “I walk around naked at home. It’s not a big deal to me, right?” pic.twitter.com/HTp2YwVgcv— Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich) June 21, 2018