Inside Golf - - Insidetheindustry - War­ren Sevil

TIM­ING is every­thing and there’s no ques­tion­ing that the suc­cess of our ma­jor tour­na­ments, and the strength of fields we at­tract, is largely due to sched­ul­ing of these events as the open­ers on the women’s world golf cal­en­dar.

As a re­sult of this, our fields have con­sis­tently boasted a few of the world’s top 10 in­clud­ing up to as many as (in 2010) 3 cur­rent ma­jor ti­tle hold­ers, who are ea­ger to get their sea­sons un­der­way at the pop­u­lar ALPG Tour events, prior to the com­mence­ment of the LPGA sched­ule which usu­ally fol­lows im­me­di­ately af­ter.

The other side of this is the fact that a num­ber of at-the-time lesser known play­ers have, over the years, come to play the ALPG Tour events – in some cases as many as four or five weeks – and then gone on to en­joy their most suc­cess­ful sea­sons on Tour.

Case 1 – Amer­i­can Stacy Lewis. Fol­low­ing a medi­ocre rookie year in 2009 fol­lowed by an im­proved 2010, Stacy be­gan 2011 with the Women’s Aus­tralian Open – where she fin­ished 35th but fol­lowed that up with a run­ner-up fin­ish at the ANZ RACV Ladies Masters the fol­low­ing week. Lewis shot 20-un­der-par to fin­ish four shots be­hind world num­ber 1, Yani Tseng and stated that she found “some­thing” that week which pro­vided the con­fi­dence boost.

A short time later, Lewis cap­tured her maiden LPGA vic­tory, a ma­jor, when she won the Kraft Nabisco Cham­pi­onship against the strong­est field of the year. Since then she has racked up six top 10 re­sults and cur­rently sits 3rd on the LPGA money list and 11th on the Rolex World Rank­ings. She told me re­cently that she will be back in 2012 be­cause she knows how ben­e­fi­cial the tour­na­ment play in Aus­tralia proved to be. Great cour­ses, great fa­cil­i­ties and usu­ally great weather.

Case 2. In early Jan­uary, we were con­tacted by Fu­tures Tour Player – Ryann O’Toole who said she had heard such great things about the ALPG Tour’s proam se­ries and tour­na­ments that she would love to come play. All we knew about her was that she fea­tured in the top rat­ing US “Big Break” golf show and that she had won twice on the Fu­tures Tour that year. Of course we wel­comed her to our events.

Ryann won a one-day pro-am at Rus­sell Vale ( Wol­lon­gong) fin­ished 4th at the NSW Open and then – af­ter we granted her the fi­nal in­vite for the Ladies Masters—went on to play the tour­na­ment of her life (to that point) fin­ish­ing 18-un­der-par and in 4th place. Her ca­reer has blos­somed re­mark­ably since she left Aus­tralia. A 9th place in the US Women’s Open backed up with a 5th at the Safe­way Clas­sic brought much at­ten­tion to the ath­letic, highly con­fi­dent Cal­i­for­nian in her rookie year on the LPGA.

Fol­low­ing her re­sult at the Safe­way Clas­sic, Rosie Jones an­nounced O’Toole as one of the two Cap­tain’s picks for the US team to com­pete against Europe for the Sol­heim Cup in late Septem­ber. Now, it doesn’t get any big­ger than Sol­heim Cup in the world of women’s golf. Equiv­a­lent to the men’s Ry­der Cup, ALL Amer­i­cans as­pire to make the Sol­heim Cup. A some­what con­tro­ver­sial pick, O’Toole was se­lected over a num­ber of bet­ter known and more ex­pe­ri­enced can­di­dates but I say good on Jones for mak­ing such a call. She saw what we here in Aus­tralia saw in a young, con­fi­dent, long hit­ting, birdie ma­chine who will never be in­tim­i­dated or over­whelmed by any­one or any sit­u­a­tion.

And to think O’Toole’s year be­gan on the ALPG Tour at Branx­ton and Rus­sell Vale Golf Clubs. Un­fa­mil­iar golf clubs/ events which nur­tured an un­fa­mil­iar name. Un­til now, that is.

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