LET’S KO DUMBO READY TO #TEAMUP
The duo, who have four major wins between them, came up with their team name thanks to a nickname coined by Chun’s coach.
“I had a lot of question for [my coach] before and I heard elephant is most curious animal. When I was with him, he goes, ‘Oh, you look like baby elephant, like Dumbo.’ That’s how it started,” said Chun.
The two have had limited but eventful experiences in professional team events. Chun was a member of the victorious Team Korea at the 2018 UL International Crown and also played in 2016, with a 6-2-0 overall record. Ko said her debut in a team tournament came last year alongside Chun.
“We were on the same team playing Inbee [Park]'s event at the end of last season and that was my first team event as a professional. It was great, a lot of fun,” said the 15-time LPGA Tour winner. “Golf is a very individual game, it's just you and your caddie out there. It's nice that you have a partner that you can rely on, and even if it doesn't go your way, you're out there supporting each other. I think that's the great thing about team play.”
According to Chun, Midland Country Club fits the two players well. “I think we have pretty similar game style, and then I think this golf course is our type of course,” she said. “I think we can make good teamwork, good score maybe. We'll try to do our best.”
Ko, who said she views Chun like an older sister on tour, has the utmost confidence in her teammate this week. “I think my partner here is one of the best putters and I think one of the best clutch putters on Tour,” said Ko. “It's always nice that if I stick it or hit it somewhat close or on the green, I feel like she's always got a good chance of holing it.”
OLYMPIC PALS HENDERSON AND SHARP EXCITED FOR ROUND ONE
Canadians Brooke Henderson and Alena Sharp had some extra help this year when they declared that they would #TeamUp for the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. Donning hockey jerseys, their team announcement video featured a cameo from Ron MacLean, the host of Hockey Night in Canada. Now, the hockey fans will focus their attention on playing together this week at Midland Country Club.
“I think just the anticipation of this event has been all year. We've been looking forward to it and it's been kind of on our minds from the video, just talking about it,” said Henderson. “I think stepping on the first tee tomorrow, there's going to be a lot of adrenaline; just hitting that first shot, seeing how the first couple holes go, hopefully they go well, and we can kind of just ride the momentum through the week.”
Sharp said their strategy includes adjusting on the fly. “I think we have a good game plan on what we want to do out there on the odds and even holes and I think we just ride with it. If it doesn't work out as well as we want tomorrow, we just switch it up for the next round.”
While the two may not have history playing in team events together, Henderson and Sharp both represented Canada at the 2016 Olympics. Henderson said she sees a parallel between that experience and this event. “I feel like representing Canada in the Olympics was a dream for both of us. To do it together was awesome, being such great friends, and I feel like it even just brought us closer. I feel the same for this event,” said Henderson. “It's just going to bring us closer together as friends and it's something so different than what we do every single week that I feel like it's going to increase our game, improve it, make it a little bit better in different aspects than we do on a regular week on the LPGA Tour.”
NO SORRY IN TEAM GOLF
There’s no crying in baseball and there’s also no sorry in team golf.
It was a running theme among the teams to visit the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational media center on Tuesday. When it comes to playing golf with a partner, there’s no need to apologize for a bad shot. It’s all part of the game.
“The main thing in alternate shot is you never say sorry,” said Jennifer Kupcho, who is playing with Maria Fassi. “You don't do that and your partner's going to do their best. So you just have to trust and go out there and play every shot like you can.”
“There's no ‘sorrys’ out there. Just, you know, attack like we would in our normal games,” said Alena Sharp, who is teaming with fellow Canadian Brooke Henderson. “When there's a question, we'll just discuss it together as a team. I think just trying to keep it simple and don't overcomplicate things, because that can lead to too much thinking and take away from being an athlete out there.”
For Lydia Ko, knowing that she has the support of her teammate In Gee Chun will make this week even more enjoyable. “Golf is a very individual game, it's just you and your caddie out there,” she said. “It's nice that you have a partner that you can rely on, and even if it doesn't go your way, you're out there supporting each other. I think that's the great thing about team play.
KERR, THOMPSON HOPE TO CONTINUE WINNING TEAM RUN
As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson are a combined 11-1-2 in Solheim Cup and UL International Crown team competition. So when it came to picking their teams for the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, there really wasn’t any other decision to make.
“I love all the partners I’ve had in the Solheim Cup, but this time, nope!” said Kerr when asked if she’d thought of playing with anyone other than Thompson.
The American duo hopes to bring that same energy to Midland Country Club. With that extensive experience in the foursomes and four-ball formats, plus Thompson having finished first or second in four of her last five events, the pair are understandably among the favorites to take the inaugural title.
“We know we have each other’s back,” said Thompson, with Kerr adding, “We will do the best we can every day and bring the same intensity we have at Solheim Cup to this event. We feel it will be less stress and we will just roll with it.”
BRIAN MILLS NOMINATED FOR LPGA’S AXA LPGA VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARD
Plans to build a new LPGA tournament started a year ago in a mid-sized Michigan community, one volunteer at a time, and officially launched this week. So when LPGA Tour players step to the tee for the first round of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational at Midland Country Club, there will be an enthusiastic group of more than 800 volunteers on site hoping to kick off this inaugural event in a big way.
The tournament’s title sponsor, Dow Chemical, has its corporate headquarters in Midland, Mich., so the company’s communications department informed its employees of volunteer opportunities with their sponsored event.
One of those former employees, Brian Mills, who worked as a chemical engineer at Dow for more than 40 years, was already an LPGA fan and an active volunteer in his Midland community. When he learned the tournament would be held in 2019, Mills was one of the first volunteers to get involved last year.
Mills will serve as co-chair of the volunteer services committee, which assists the 800-plus volunteers on site with any questions and needs they may have during tournament week – which likely will be a perfect fit for a former Dow employee who helped design and build chemical plants, develop new products, conduct research and development, and manage some 12,000 employees at plants across North America.
For Lisa Mickey’s full article in Brian Mills, visit www.lpga.com/news/2019-axa-lpga-volunteer-nominee-brian-mills-dow. For more information on the AXA XL LPGA Volunteer Service Award, visit www.lpga.com/axa-xl.
DOW GREAT LAKES BAY INVITATIONAL FORMAT
The tournament is a 72-hole, stroke-play team event with teams comprised of two players. The first and third rounds will be played in foursomes (alternate shot) and the second and final rounds will be played in a four-ball (best-ball) format. After 36 holes, the field will be cut to the low 35 teams and ties.
In the event of a playoff, the champions will be determined by a hole-by-hole playoff in the foursomes format.
Each LPGA Member on the winning team will receive the standard two-year winner’s exemption on the LPGA Priority List. Winners will also get into the 2019 Evian Championship, 2019 AIG Women’s British Open, 2020 ANA Inspiration and 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, as well as the 2020 and 2021 Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. CME points and prize money will be official for the purposes of the current-year LPGA Official Money List and Race to the CME Globe Standings. Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Rolex Player of the Year, Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year and U.S. Solheim Cup points will not be allocated, and statistics will not be calculated.
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