The Legend Shirley Spork — LOTTE Championship round one quotes from Hannah Green — Must-click women’s golf links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, April 14, 2022
Every Golf Thursday is special, but we’ve been spoiled over the last two weeks. We had back-to-back weeks of major championship golf entertaining us and we’ve been marveling in the glory. Two weeks of golf that hold such beautiful traditions for both the LPGA and the PGA Tours, and two weeks of witnessing two young players making their dreams come true. That glory came to a screeching halt on Tuesday with the passing of golf legend Shirley Spork at the age of 94.
Over the last two days, I’ve read dozens of articles, watched videos and listened to interviews about Shirley and her amazing life and the biggest takeaway from them all is that she was a storyteller. 94 chapters makes for a hell of a novel and there isn’t a dull moment.
She was a product of the Great Depression and the Greatest Generation, she walked beside golf’s greatest pioneers as one of the 13 founders of the LPGA and she’s the reason the LPGA’s teaching division grew from 0 to 1,700 (and counting).
Beth Ann Nichols said it best when talking about the 13 founders — they did it all! They were players, they were advocates, they were their own rules officials, they were their own marketing team, they were their own commissioners and so much more. No one showed these women what to do or how to do it and yet they created one of the best sports organizations the world has to offer. They cultivated a community that became a family. For Shirley to not only be able to witness the LPGA blossom into what it is now, but to be a part of it at events and tournaments as an unofficial cheerleader to the organization, is a beautiful plot line in her remarkable story.
94 years of dedicating her life to being a student of the game even as she became a teacher. We often forget or underestimate the teaching professionals within our sport. They are the ones who are the backbone of any professional tour. Teaching in any capacity is a labor of love. You agonize over trying to find the right words or tools in order to see your students succeed. You spend hundreds of hours on research and bettering yourself to improve others. You’re always expected to have a solution to any problems thrown your way. You are a mentor, a therapist, a friend, and if you push the right buttons enough, you’re also a nuisance to your students all in one.
Shirley was the best of us. She evolved as the game evolved. She gave out tips, like they were candy, to anyone who would listen. She became a mentor and a figurehead of the tour. She was present at Solheim Cups, Founders Cups, and even two weeks ago at Mission Hills where she was finally given the recognition as an inductee into the LPGA Hall of Fame.
94 years of fighting the same fight, year after year, to ensure that the tour she founded would carry on. Shirley’s role as one of the last surviving founders is connecting past and present. She was living proof of what a lifetime of work looks like and the LPGA still has far to go. For instance, it needs to be better about giving our living legends their flowers. We had no idea that the Chevron Championship would be the last time we’d see Shirley, and I’m grateful she was able to be recognized which makes it that much more bittersweet.
For storytellers, the best way to carry on their legacy is to carry on their words. I hope the tour and everyone who personally knew Shirley continue to share her stories and honor her because those anecdotes will propel us into the next generation of golfers, players and teachers.
Rest in peace, Shirley, you are most certainly missed.
“That’s the thing about the game of golf. You have 18 chances to be brave.”— Shirley Spork
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This week in women’s golf
If you have links you wish to share for Golf Thursday, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything at all, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ! Discussion of any kind is always welcome…I mean it…MESSAGE ME!
There are far more qualified writers who have honored Shirley and her life’s work and I want to highlight some of those stories and share them with you all.
One of my favorite articles about Shirley comes from LPGA writer Leia Schwartz, who called Shirley her “second grandmother”. Leia writes a touching piece about how she met Shirley and how their friendship grew into something even stronger.
Another beautiful account about Shirley comes from my good friend Steve Eubanks, the managing editor of LPGA.com, talks about the “last lesson” he got from Shirley at Mission Hills and how it reminded him of his first time meeting her.
Per usual, Beth Ann Nichols is right on time with saying what we’re all thinking LPGA founder Shirley Spork never won on tour, but should be remembered by future generations as a game changer.
In other LPGA-related news, Brooke Henderson chimes in on the Scottie Scheffler Masters win, using his post-winning press conference as reflection about her own game and as motivation for what’s to come in the season.
Charlotte Thomas returns to competitive golf after missing the entire 2021 season due to illness! Her first time back to full “tour life” was in January, but it’s nice to see her healthy and playing again! She’s in the field this week for the LOTTE Championship.
The LPGA Foundation announced today the eight high school graduates selected to receive the 2022 Marilynn Smith Scholarship, as well as the two graduates awarded the Phyllis G. Meekins Scholarship and one awarded the Dinah Shore Scholarship.
Nelly Korda provided us with an update on her health over the last week. Still sending her well-wishes and hoping she’s making the full recovery she needs to be back on the course!
To end this week’s LPGA news with a fun little highlight…here’s a list of some sibling love on the LPGA Tour that you probably didn’t know about!
For this week’s LPGA Tour tournament news head scroll down to Five at The IX.
The LET continues is Asian tour with this week’s Trust Golf Asian Mixed Stableford Challenge in Thailand! Day one results can be found here.
On top of amazing golf, we are also blessed with a new golf show trend???? How do we feel about these?!
The LET has been hosting tournaments in Thailand since 2005! This article is a bit of a history lesson between the LET and Thailand, including tournaments played and some breakout players from the country.
Epson Tour News
Junior golf standout Alexa Pano announced that she’s turning pro and will be making her Epson Tour debut at the Copper Rock Championship in Hurricane, Utah, April 21-23.
It’s almost crunch time for NCAA golf teams…to stay up to date with tournaments, schedules and live scoring to see how teams and individuals are looking for the post-season.
Five at The IX: Hannah Green Press Conference from the LOTTE Championship
It’s rare that round one of any tournament has already happened prior to our usual Thursday meetings — most of the time they have just begun but this week is a bit different! The ladies of the LPGA are in gorgeous Hawaii this week playing at the Hoakalei Country Club for the LOTTE Championship.
Last year’s champ, Lydia Ko, posted a solid first round of 69 and is currently sitting in a tie for 11th, three behind leader Hannah Green, who fired a 66 on day one. This is what Hannah had to say about her round and about the passing of Shirley Spork.
Q. Hannah, you were in the early wave, the first round at a brand new event with no real frame of reference for what the scoring would be like. Did your preparation here make you feel comfortable and confident?
HANNAH GREEN: Yeah, I played a practice round with Georgia and Su, so kind of playing for lunch and dinner, so just trying get as many competitive rounds out there as possible before the tournament.
I’ve been hitting the ball good. I just felt like with the putter I just needed to see a couple go in. So that’s kind of what led to my score today. Holed a couple longer ones, which is nice. Just made the hole feel a little bit bigger.
Q. Is there something to Australians, both men and women, having success on the islands of Hawaii?
HANNAH GREEN: I think your ball striking really shows. I feel like if you miss-hit it in the wind it really reflects your miss-hit.
Today I felt like I hit the ball really well. I don’t know how many greens I hit, but I felt like all the shots I hit where I wanted them, so it’s been a while since I’ve kind of done that.
It was quite hard to predict the wind the last few holes. It was getting pretty gusty. But, yeah, you’ve got to be pretty patient out there.
Q. You did play in some wind. Tomorrow’s forecast is much the same. How much will that change your preparation or your strategy?
HANNAH GREEN: Yeah, it’s going to depend where the pins are again, and then obviously how gusty it gets. The plan is literally to hit every fairway and every green and make my life as easy as possible and stress-free.
I think just making sure that you don’t like short-side yourself is really key around here. Usually I really like to hit it in the bunkers, but sometimes they aren’t the greatest spot here on this golf course.
You’re going to make bogeys out there. It’s just trying to make as many birdies as possible.
Q. Great playing. Good luck.
HANNAH GREEN: Thanks.
Q. Tell me how you feel you played today. Looked like a pretty solid round.
HANNAH GREEN: Yeah, I felt like I played really well. Hit a lot of good shots on our first nine; just couldn’t really capitalize on the putts.
So it was kind of nice, on the back nine I holed one from off the green, so that was pretty cool.
So, yeah, I hit the ball really good and I had nice numbers into the holes. It wasn’t really ever like too many hard shots, which is quite hard here in Hawaii.
But I feel like the windier it gets and the harder it gets, I like that. I feel like I like the challenge. I might not say that tomorrow if I have a bad score, but, you know, it makes you think.
Yeah, those that play well are rewarded.
Q. Tell me about the hole where you holed it from off the green.
HANNAH GREEN: I just pulled my shot left into the right rough, and then it’s a really hard hole, No. 6. I just missed the green. I was a few meters off the edge. I actually thought it was going in quite hard but it wasn’t too bad because it was so uphill and into the grain.
But that was a nice one to sneak in, as most of my other birdies came from like close range. That was good.
Q. How fun is this week? It’s a nice week when this is your office.
HANNAH GREEN: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Q. Be able to get out and have some fun, too?
HANNAH GREEN: Yeah, it was really nice. Like I really enjoy coming to Hawaii. It’s such a relaxed vibe, and I think that’s what we need a little bit more of when we’re on the golf course.
Yeah, this afternoon I’m probably going to go to the beach. Hopefully doesn’t get too much windier or might not be too pleasant.
I saw Inbee saw some turtles yesterday, so I really want to go and do that. It’s just really cool. You can switch off pretty easily here.
Q. One last work question. What did you learn about this course today that you really think is going to help you as you go into tomorrow?
HANNAH GREEN: Yeah, I mean, I guess it just goes to show how gusty it can really be. It was nice that we at least did have some wind in the practice rounds and the pro-am, but it’s picking up now.
I haven’t really looked at the forecast, but I guess Jerry just said it’s pretty similar.
Just, yeah, got to stay as patient as possible. Nate, my caddie and I have done a really good job with like reading the wind, so, yeah, hopefully we can continue to do that, make the right decisions.
Q. The green ribbon with Shirley’s passing yesterday, just wanted to get your thoughts on Shirley and the Founders and what they have meant for the LPGA.
HANNAH GREEN: I know, it was such a shock for us all to read I assume, especially after seeing her so recently, and so shy to her 95 birthday.
Yeah, we are obviously all so grateful for what they’ve done and giving us the opportunity. Everyone kind of hopes that when we leave our tour it’s in a better place, and I’m sure she’s really proud to see where it has started to where it’s now.
Always think of Shirley, and, yeah, hopefully no more sad news coming our way.
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