As we emerge from winter and speed past Spring towards Memorial Day the calendar shows us that the 37th edition of the ShopRite LPGA Classic is less than a month away. While the grounds crew works feverishly to get the Donald Ross designed Bay Course at the Stockton Seaview Resort into tournament condition the players are working their way east having one major in their rear view mirror.
The largest Pro-Am in all of golf spread over two days and three golf courses kicks off the week on June 6th before the 54-hole event tees off on June 8th. Defending champion IK Kim has committed to play along with past winners in Anna Nordqvist, Stacy Lewis, Karrie Webb and Cristie Kerr.
With ACER as it’s longest tenured partner the tournament has over 400 corporate partners with ShopRite which has raised $32 million for the local area. Joining the field this year will be Marina Alex, from Wayne, NJ, as one of the few New Jersey born pros on tour.
Alex, who recently moved to Florida proudly claims to still be a Jersey girl. “New Jersey is a unique state,” Alex said. “We support each other to represent our state as there are not a lot on tour from New Jersey. It’s a great place to be from,” she continued. With New Jersey not being a state to hone tournament level golf skills year round Alex said one quality of players from the state is that they are dedicated with a “stick to it” mentality.
Coming into the tournament Alex has been riding a hot putter with one top 5 and two top 10 finishes as the LPGA season has opened. Joining her for the $1.75 million purse will be nine of the last 11 major winners as well as fan favorites Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Michelle Wie and Christina Kim.
Tournament organizers also revealed that Natalie Gulbis has accepted one of three sponsor exemptions to continue her support of the event for the 14th year. The tournament annually attracts many of the top women players because the course is unique compared to many of the courses they play. Some have called it a good test to work up to the USGA Women’s Open which is four weeks down the Shoal Creek, Alabama.
Further information on the tournament can be found at www.shopritelpgaclassic.com. It’s a great event to get up close to see the pros or follow a favorite around during her round and it will be televised live by The Golf Channel.
GAP GOLF - Newtown's Glenn Smeraglio added another piece of hardware to his trophy case with a sudden death playoff win in the Francis B. Warner Cup. Smeraglio, playing out of LuLu, tied Five Ponds Brian Rothaus and Running Deer's Joe Russo for top honors at 72. Russo unfortunately could not return for the playoff, leaving the two Bucks County players to battle before Smeraglio emerged victorious in play at Concord....Neshaminy's Brittany Benvenuto does not wish any LPGA player any harm, but she needs two players to withdraw before their starting time to get into the Kingsmill event. Benvenuto has played in three LPGA events this season, making one cut.