The IX: Golf Thursday with Carly Grenfell, December 26, 2019

The best of 2019 — Top quotes from Suzann Pettersen — Must-click links in women's golf

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The best of golf in 2019

Happy holidays to you all!

Hope today’s newsletter finds you well. I’m writing this the Saturday before Christmas as I am heading home to Nebraska for the week in a few short days. Just wanted to extend the biggest thanks to all of my readers and subscribers who have supported Golf Thursdays this year!

It’s been a great way for me to keep up with golf as a whole, which is something that’s pretty important in my full-time job. If you have any feedback or insight, please shoot me an email at any time. It’s always fun for me to hear from readers and will always welcome with open arms new ideas or ways to make this newsletter more enjoyable. I’m looking forward to the next 52 weeks in 2020!

Speaking of the new year, I’m going to lay out the Top 10 moments that stand out to me from 2019. It wasn’t the easiest of tasks narrowing it down to 10, but we’re here! In the links section, I decided to include my favorite stories of the year instead of the latest news and Tweet of the Week is Tweet of the Year instead today. Anyways, enjoy this look back at women’s golf; if anything, I hope it’s a reminder of the positive direction women’s golf is headed and that the support of every person matters.

#10 —> The LPGA and LET announce a joint venture partnership.

Although the full details of the partnership and what this relationship is really going to look like moving forward isn’t totally clear, this move I think was a big one. It’s an opportunity for the LET schedule to expand and for them to have access to the leadership and success of LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. When I talk about growing the game of golf, it’s ventures like this that I think will give the women’s game a lift. Two is better than one in my opinion, so I’m excited to see how this shakes out in the years to come.

#9 —> How U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland and LPGA*USGA Girls Golf superstar became the best of friends.

If you need a feel-good story this holiday season or ever, this is probably it. At the U.S. Open this year, Amy, who has down syndrome, played a practice hole with Gary Woodland. Here’s the YouTube video where Woodland surprises Amy and asks her to play the infamous 16th hole. And to make it even better, she sinks the putt in front of a packed house! Woodland of course went on to win the U.S. Open and credited Amy for her positive spirit and can-do attitude. Here’s an article from Forbes highlighting this moment if you happened to miss it.

#8 —> Brooke Henderson becomes the winningest Canadian in golf.

At only 21-years-old, Brooke Henderson became the winningest Canadian in golf after winning the Meijer Classic earlier this year. She passed Sandra Post, Mike Weir and George Hudson, who all hold eight PGA/LPGA victories. This was a big reason she was also named the 2019 Canada Sports Hall of Fame People’s Choice Award. I have no doubt Henderson has a whole lot left in her and that she has plenty of wins still coming. Sitting at No. 8 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf rankings, she shows no signs of slowing down.

#7 —> Jin Young Ko beats Tiger Wood’s bogey-free streak.

I mean, what a headline that is. Anytime you can say you beat Tiger Woods, the greatest golfer of our time, I’d say it’s worthy of talking about! Even though her run ended four holes after she set the record of 114 consecutive holes without a bogey, let’s not forget how impressive, and hard, that is. This is a streak that dates back to almost 20 years ago! Yes, since 2000. I’d also imagine that once you’re aware you’re setting a record of this significance, it’d be hard not to think about it constantly. After her streak ended, I’m sure there was a level of relief.

#6 —> The golf world shows up big for LPGA rookie Haley Moore.

Another feel-good story that I’d be crazy not to include in the Top 10 moments from this year. Haley Moore, who endured a lot as a kid being bullied, attended Q-series and began her journey of earning her LPGA card a few months ago. Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols wrote a great feature on Moore and the financial burden that comes with Q-series. It was only a matter of time before a GoFund me page was started to help with the costs and, to no surprise, the goal was met to help her and her family pay for the travel, hotel stays and other expense that come with being on the road. Haley earned her card—so be on the lookout for her next season!

#5 —> The debut of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the excitement it drew to women’s golf in its inaugural year.

The inaugural year is going to be a tough one to top. That alone is something that gets people excited because it’s history being made and ‘firsts’ always seem to be something sports fans will get behind. Jennifer Kupcho, who went on to have a really successful rookie season on the LPGA, won the event in dramatic fashion and golf ratings exceeded expectations. The stage that is Augusta National certainly helps when promoting an event like this. It was just an exciting piece of women’s golf history that I’m sure will continue to evolve and get bigger in the coming years.

#4 —> Hinako Shibuno competes in her first-ever major and first LPGA event outside Japan—and stuns the golf world by winning.

Can you imagine playing in your first event outside of your home country and your first LPGA major, and walking away victorious? Based on some of Shibuno’s interviews and reactions after she sunk a 20-foot putt for the win, I don’t think she really even had many expectations for herself either! What an incredible thing to do—and a life-changing moment for her as well. She was given the nickname ‘Smiling Cinderella’ because of her big smile that she obviously couldn’t hide that day! I’m sure we’ll see more and hear more of her in 2020.

#3 —> Jeongeun Lee6 wins 2019 LPGA Rookie of the Year and brings down the house with her acceptance speech.

Seriously, watch her speech (here’s the original tweet) if you haven’t already! What’s remarkable about this moment was that she spent the previous few months learning English. She spoke no English before playing on the LPGA, and perfectly executed her speech on the stage that night. It’s real, it’s genuine and it’s inspiring. There also isn’t a time where she looks down at any sort of notes; it was clear she memorized it. What I loved was one of her opening lines talking about how scared she was at the start of the season. Scared to be alone, scared because she didn’t know English, scared she wasn’t really prepared to compete. But she went on to conquer all of those fears.

#2 —> The LPGA launches the #DriveOn Campaign, inspiring ‘every girl’ to be exactly who they were born to be.

I loved this campaign from the day in launched and I loved how the LPGA kept it relevant throughout the entire 2019 season too. Not only was the unveiling video (see Tweet of the Year below) wonderfully done already setting it up for success, but there was buy-in from the players as well who took part in the conversation and put their own spin on #DriveOn from their own social media channels. And even beyond the players and LPGA staff and stakeholders, I saw a lot of other important and influential names noticing the campaign and bringing more attention to it. There are a handful of ways to measure the success of a social media campaign, but engagement was through the roof. People noticed and people were talking about it. Well done, LPGA.

#1 —> Suzann Pettersen bows out in dramatic fashion to win the 2019 Solheim Cup for Team Europe.

You had to of seen this one coming! An ending to the most exciting event in women’s golf that could not have been scripted better. Suzann Pettersen was picked by Captain Catriona Matthew even after hardly playing in the 2019 LPGA season since giving birth to her first son. There seemed to be a lot of people scratching their heads at picking Pettersen given the circumstances at the start, but by the end, this definitely wasn’t the case! Fans were being critical of what Pettersen would be capable of that week—worried she’d be rusty—and she shut up the haters really quick. After being set up for the winning putt on the 18th green, she nailed it. And not long after, announced her retirement. What a way to finish an already storied career.

This Year in Women’s Golf

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

Still love this LPGA insight from the Power Plays newsletter. A must-read!

Smiling Cinderella claims stunning Women’s British Open title.

Golfweek dives into the TV ratings of the inaugural ANWA (and they are good).

Beth Ann Nichols’ wonderful piece on Haley Moore that sparked the fundraiser.

Suzann Pettersen pens a powerful letter to her son after the Solheim Cup.

The original story from Golf Channel on Haley Moore & the obstacles she’s overcome.

Jin Young Ko’s bogey-free streak caught the attention of the New York Times.

Brooke Henderson became the winningest Canadian in golf but isn’t done yet.

Forbes highlights the bond between Gary Woodland and Amy Bockerstette.

Top 10 LPGA moments in 2019 from Golfweek, including Ko’s acceptance speech.

LPGA announces Brooke Henderson winning Canada’s People’s Choice Award.

Golf Digest breaks down the prize money payout at the CME.

Tweet of the Year

Five at The IX: Suzann Pettersen

The Solheim Cup was probably the most exciting event of the year and the way it ended was just the icing on the cake. Now that Pettersen has retired from golf and the dust has settled a little bit, here are some recent quotes about that week (via Golf Digest and Sky Sports) and what life looks like now for her. It only makes sense to end with her insight to bring my Top Moment from 2019 home. By the way, for anyone reading abroad, Sky Sports is putting on a two-hour special called “The Greatest Solheim” recapping the week that will run on Christmas Day. Here’s the teaser to get a sneak peak of what’s to come!

I. On how retirement has been: I love it. I’ve lived the life of a professional athlete for almost 20 years, and there was always the guilty feeling, like I haven’t done enough. It’s nice to just be, and not be judged by everything you do. Not being measured.

II. On what life looks like now: We’re back in Norway. I always pictured my family, my kids—kid, hopefully future kids—growing up where I was fortunate enough to grow up. We live close to the water, close to the woods. The kids can walk to school. In the U.S., you don’t see many kids out in the street after school playing. Back home that’s all you see. That’s what I want for my kids. I walk out the door with my dog and it’s just endless. I’ve missed that.

II. On if the the 2019 Solheim Cup was her favorite career moment: Yes, because it was a moment I could share with my son. I think you can only dream of sharing a moment like that with blood. I think that’s why I made the decision right there to retire. This is it. This is the peak. Everything else is going to feel … more ordinary. That moment gave me all the answers I’ve been searching for. I wanted to get back on the golf course as a mom, to prove to myself that I could come back. Hopefully when Herman gets older we can look back at the videos and hopefully that will make him proud of what I did.

IV. On if she always planned to retire that week: It wasn’t something my husband and I had talked about over the dinner table. But he totally agreed. There were a few phone calls I had to make on Monday morning after the Solheim Cup to sponsors. People who have been around me weren’t too surprised. My last few years before I got pregnant, the success didn’t come as easy. It was wearing on me a bit. You start thinking about other things like, Do I want to have a family? These questions pop up, especially when you’re a woman.

V. On whether motherhood has changed her: Yes, it’s probably made me more emotional. I’m just trying to be as natural and loving as I can for him. And try to bring him up around good values. It’s softened me a lot, but it’s not like you care less about performing. You’re a bit more realistic and understand there’s a lot more to it. Win or lose, it keeps things in perspective.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Stephanie Livaudais, @Livaudais
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by The IX Team