Planet Golf — 15 March 2018 by Candace Oehler
Nordquist defends in the desert

LPGA Honors Founders

@LPGAFounders, #LPGAFounders, @LPGAGirlsGolf, #LPGAFamily

PHOENIX – Defending champion Anna Nordquist leads a strong LPGA field at this week’s Bank of Hope Founders Cup Challenge, taking place March 14-18 at Wildfire Golf Club at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.  Last year, the former ASU Sun Devil held off In Gee Chun, Stacy Lewis and Ariya Jutanugarn to pick up her first win of the 2017 season.  The eight-time LPGA winner set a 54-hole record (-21), en route to a final -25.

The tour stop is the first LPGA event on U.S. soil of the 2018 season, and features a full field of the world’s top LPGA players, including all four 2018 winners – Brittany Lincicome (Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic), Jin Young Ko (ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open), Jessica Korda (Honda LPGA Thailand), and Michelle Wie (HSBC Women’s World Championship). The top 10 golfers in the Race to the CME Globe are also in the field, including 2017 CME Globe champion Lexi Thompson.

The 72-hole event offers a $1.5 million purse with a winner’s portion of $225,000

This is really a “home” game this week for Nordquist, whose Valley roots are deep. “Forks Up” fans will be following her throughout the week, especially members of the ASU women’s golf team.  Nordquist spent two and a half years at the school, and credits that college experience with helping her mature as a golfer and person.

“College doesn’t just teach you about golf, but taking care of yourself and time management, figuring out who you are and what you want to do,” she said. “ It’s really a great experience.  ASU is always going to be family to me.  I moved away in 2010 to Florida, and I’ve been regretting my decision for many years – although I have a great setup now in Florida.”

She added, “It’s just I came here when I was 18 years old (from Sweden).  I was very shy.  I wouldn’t speak up.  I was not very mature. It was all about golf, and I had a goal of playing on tour. That’s what I wanted to do and that’s what was driving me every day. But just to have a lot people caring about you and still do, that means a lot.”

LPGA founders and pioneers being honored

The Founders Cup is the only tournament that celebrates the LPGA’s past, present and future.  It honors the 13 women who founded the LPGA, showcases the world’s best current players, and supports the future of the game through the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program.

This year, the three surviving LPGA Founders – Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler – will be in attendance at the tournament, alongside 2018 LPGA Pioneer honorees Amy Alcott, Sandy LaBauve and Susie Maxwell Berning.

Off the DL

Michelle Wie – Coming off her first victory in nearly four years, Wie joked that she, Phil Mickelseon and Paul Casey had opened the door to others who hadn’t won in a while. Seemingly free of injury, the four-time LPGA winner and 2014 US Women’s Open champion described her new treat regimen for arthritis in her hands.

She explained, “I’ve been getting cortisone over the last couple years, and I am now at the point where I can’t get my more cortisone in those areas. So I found my doctors in New York and we’ve been doing this more natural injection, more of a collagen injection, trying to recreate some cartilage, more space in my joints.  It’s been really helping.”

Paula Creamer – The 10-time LPGA winner and 2010 UW Women’s Open champion is making her first start this week since she withdrew from the 2017 Evian Championship, and underwent season-ending wrist surgery.  Creamer hopes that a new coach, major swing changes, and good health will help her get back to the winner’s circle for the first time since 2014.

Jessica Korda – The older Korda sister’s victory in Thailand was a miraculous comeback from extensive surgery in December that left her with 27 screws in her face and jaw.  It has been a long and painful recovery for the 27-year old.

“I was throwing up blood; I couldn’t breathe; couldn’t go to the bathroom by myself; couldn’t shower by myself; couldn’t put my shoes on, walk, anything,” she explained.

And she had no idea when she would be competitive again, making her February victory at Honda even more impressive.

“I mean, it’s been difficult,” she said.  “I didn’t know when I was going to be able to come back.  I was signed up for tournaments that I didn’t know if I could go to.  The anxiety of flying for the first time and preparing for something that you don’t know what it’s going to look like.”

But, as hard as it was on her, both she and her sister Nelly agree that their mom suffered as much, if not more, than the patient.

“It was like having a six foot baby, but worse,” joked Jessica.

Anna Nordquist – Even the defending champion struggled with her health in 2017, battling the effects of mononucleosis.  She still managed to win the Founders Cup and her second major, the Evian Championship.

“Yeah, last year was a bit of a rollercoaster, to say the least.  I had some great times, and I’ve had some moments where I didn’t feel as good as I wanted to. “But I really struggled with the mono for a long time.  I thought I was kind of over it at the end of the year, but then I got a cold and it lasted for three weeks.

“”I found my immune system was still pretty low, so I took a lot of time off.  I didn’t start back until January working out or practicing.  So enjoyed three weeks back home in Europe over the holidays and seeing my family and friends, but been working out since.  Been working pretty hard.

This is only my third event, so trying to pace myself, which is not easy.  I feel good, I feel healthy, and I’m motivated and inspired to go back and compete again.”


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About Author

Candace Oehler’s deep dive into sports media began several decades ago when she won a trip from Seattle to Mariners spring training in Arizona. Noting that non-English-speaking Latino ball players received little, if any, media coverage, she fluently/en español became a pioneer in Spanish sports media, and eventually became known affectionately throughout the Latino MLB community as “La Veterana.” Candace has written for team publications and; hosted her own radio show on several Spanish-language stations; served as producer/reporter/engineer for the Mariners’ inaugural season of Spanish radio broadcasts; and has been a reporter for MLB Network Radio the past 10 years. She was invited to Venezuela by future Hall-of-Fame shortstop Omar Vizquel to cover rebuilding efforts and accomplishments of his charitable foundation following the devastating 1999 mudslides; worked in Puerto Rico for former Major Leaguers Joey Cora and Carlos Baerga managing fundraising events; and was the only female in the raucous locker room when the hometown favorite Licey Tigers won the 2004 Caribbean World Series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Candace was introduced to the game of golf in 1992 by members of Seattle’s historic Fir State Golf Club, who had approached her to manage their (then) little fundraising tournament hosted by a shy, gangly 15-year old Tiger Woods. Candace co-managed the annual event for nearly 20 years, working with hosts that included Ken Griffey, Sr., Birdie Griffey, Mike Cameron, Nate McMillan, Warren Moon, and Dale Ellis. She became secretary of the club and the Fir State Junior Golf Foundation, and got totally, completely hooked on golf, learning to play on a set of Redbirds given to her by the club (apparently they considered her mother’s Patty Bergs a bit antiquated). She has since traded up to another set of Redbirds and a much more user-friendly golf environment in Arizona. And, once a prolonged stint on the DL is over, she can’t wait to get back on the course and continue lowering her current 21-handicap to ….?

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