Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jess Paniszczyn
Building excitement for the upcoming North Texas LPGA Shootout to be held April 25 to 28, the Las Colinas Country Club hosted a Media Day on March 5. Three players committed to play in the tournament, Brittany Lang of McKinney, Gerina Piller of Plano and Angela Stanford of Fort Worth, along with golf legend Kathy Whitworth joined LPGA representatives in formally welcoming area business people and media representatives to the new tournament. The Shootout will be The North Texas region’s first LPGA Tour tournament in more than 20 years.
“Our product is fantastic; these girls are so talented,” Kraig Kann, the LPGA’s Chief Communications Officer, told the crowd. “The passion that these players have is off the charts. They are the greatest ambassadors of their product in all of professional sports. The only issue that they have had is that they haven’t had a big enough stage to shout the message about the good things they do and showcase that talent. Now when their ratings are up 70 percent, they are in 165 countries and they’ve added eight events over the last two years and their social media following is growing; they’ve got that opportunity. This is the start of something special.”
A professional golfer for 13 years, Angela Stanford has been nicknamed ‘the fossil’ by some of the younger, cheekier tour members.
“This tournament is pretty special,” Stanford said. “I’ve never been able to play in my backyard. I have told people the LPGA is missing the boat by not being here. I understand the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Las Colinas is the perfect spot for us because it kind of brings everyone to the middle geographically. I think it is a very strong place for us to be.
“I can’t wait. The fans here are awesome. I know the community here loves the men. They are going to fall in love with the women.”
Currently a Flower Mound resident, Kathy Whitworth played professional golf from 1959 to 2005. She holds 88 tournament titles, more than any other golfer (male or female) in history.
“The Tour is bigger and better,” Whitworth said. “When I first came on the Tour, there were like 35 players. We traveled by car most of the time. You couldn’t fly to anyplace we played anyway, so you had to drive. Our media room was the parking lot, and our locker room was the back end of the car. So a lot of things have changed. It is exciting to see where it is going.
“I’m thrilled to see that the Tour is back here in Dallas. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a tournament in Texas. We used to have maybe five or six tournaments in Texas, so we’ve always had a great fan base here. I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised with the response.”
As the Las Colinas Country Club begins to celebrate its 50th anniversary, General Manager Ron Woolard is excited to welcome the LPGA to Irving.
“I think it is going to be a great event,” Woolard said. “There are so many elements to it, from featuring and showcasing some of the greatest golfers in the world. Such a spectacular field of many different countries being represented with Irving having its businesses in this market, representing the world in this direction. I think it is a cool direction to go. There is going to be some great play, someone is going to be a champion and our community is going to get a chance to have some fun.
“We have been working on this for three years. For the LPGA tournament to fall into alignment so that it is part of the Las Colinas Country Club’s 50th anniversary celebration is fantastic. Las Colinas Country Club was the foundation for Mr. Carpenter to build Las Colinas. I think it is just great for pride, reputation for the club, and the community.”
The $1.3 million North Texas LPGA Shootout will host a full-field of 144 players playing 72 holes of stroke play over four days of competition. Tournament proceeds will benefit The Nexus Club which primarily supports and raises funds for the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf in North Texas.