The IX: Golf Thursday with Sarah Kellam, March 4, 2021
Golf media needs to do more — Interview with Gabriel Roux — Must-click women's golf links
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Last week was an incredible return to play for the LPGA Tour for so many reasons. Nelly Korda took home the Gainbridge LPGA title by three shots, making she and her sister, Jessica, the only pair of sisters to win back-to-back tournaments on Tour since Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam in 2000, giving us one of the cooler stories in golf.
A star-studded leaderboard complete with names like Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, and Jin Young Ko who all finished in the top five provided insight into what the rest of the season may look like in terms of dominance from the world’s best players.
And the obvious one, Annika Sorenstam teeing it up professionally for the first time in 13 years AND making the cut at 50 years old, was nothing short of an impressive display from the ten-time major champion.
As was to be expected with the GOAT making her return, the Gainbridge LPGA definitely drew more media attention than is typical for an LPGA Tour event this early in the season, which is great for the promotion and elevation of the women’s game.
Annika moves the needle much like Tiger does. And when someone with as much influence in golf as she has decides to come out of retirement to make an “appearance” on the professional circuit once again, everyone wants to tell and be a part of that story.
While all coverage is good coverage for a tour that is so blatantly ignored by a lot of outlets, I couldn’t help but notice how many of those outlets were chiming into the frenzy surrounding Annika’s return this week.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m very glad to see people talking about the LPGA Tour that wouldn’t normally do so. Anything to get more eyes on the product and more mouths talking about women’s golf is a great thing in my book. It also makes Golf Twitter more refreshing to scroll through.
What’s concerning to me though is whether or not these platforms will continue to cover the LPGA Tour and its counterparts going forward and if they consider this past week just to be a one-off because of who was playing.
Was Annika the only thing that got them to care? Are people only interested if the GOAT is teeing it up every week? Was Ron Sirak’s tweet of her made-cut percentage the only compelling part of the narrative? I hate asking these questions, but history tells us that it’s challenging to get major golf media networks to commit to covering the women just as much as the men.
While the upswing in coverage last week was significant, it has to be more sustainable and more consistent. Golf platforms shouldn’t just leave a tour or section of the game by the wayside until something “interesting” comes along.
The LPGA Tour has just as many captivating stories and inspirational players and stellar golf as the PGA Tour. There’s plenty to talk about week in and week out, just ask stalwarts Beth Ann Nichols, or Ron Sirak, or Steve Eubanks who’ve all made it their mission to tell these stories. It’s there. You just have to seek it out.
And if last week shows anything, the golf media industry as a whole across all platforms has the ability to be better. To do more for the women. To make fans connect with a story every single event. To get people to care.
We’re here every week. They should be, too.
To cover ALL of golf, not just a part of it.
This week in women’s golf
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The LPGA Tour heads to Golden Ocala this week for another edition of the Drive On Championship. (via LPGA.com)
The Korda sisters and Jin Young Ko will be paired together in the first round at Golden Ocala. (via Golfweek)
Danielle Kang seems to be well suited for the Drive On championships, having won one edition and finished second in the other in the 2020 editions. (via LPGA.com)
Back-to-back top tens have Lexi Thompson feeling good about her golf game. (via LPGA.com)
Lydia Ko carries memories of becoming world no. 1 after finishing high at Golden Ocala in 2015 with her in this week’s event. (via LPGA.com)
Maria Torres will be teeing it up this week just 30 miles from where she played golf in college and is reminiscing on her time as a Florida Gator. (via LPGA.com)
Check out this booth hit from Golf Channel live at the LPGA Drive On at Golden Ocala with Grant Boone and Morgan Pressel. (via GolfChannel.com)
Ally Ewing has won a Drive On Championship and reflects on what the slogan means to her. (via LPGA.com)
Here’s how and where to watch the 2021 LPGA Drive On Championship at Golden Ocala. (via LPGA.com)
Morgan Pressel isn’t hanging up her golf clubs quite yet, but is picking up a microphone and joining NBC and Golf Channel as an analyst and on-course reporter. (via Golfweek)
Steve Eubanks weighs in on Morgan Pressel’s decision to join the NBC team and is confident that she will work to do the best that she can, per the usual for Pressel. (via LPGA.com)
Another major champion will be joining the broadcast team for Golf Channel and NBC covering the LPGA and PGA Tours in 2021. (via LPGA.com)
Morgan Pressel isn’t retiring anytime soon, but she is grabbing a mic and heading to the course in 2021. (via Golf.com)
More on Morgan Pressel being added to the NBC Sports team to cover golf this year. (via GolfDigest.com)
The newly hired on-course reporter for NBC Sports, Morgan Pressel, makes her official Golf Channel debut this week in Ocala. (via GolfChannel.com)
Morgan Pressel reunites with former coach Martin Hall and feels for Jordan Spieth since she hasn’t won an event in 13 years. (via Golfweek)
Even though we are back to playing tournaments regularly, COVID-19 is STILL having an effect on the LPGA Tour schedule in 2021. (via Golfweek)
The Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings are returning to normal as of March 1st. Here’s what that means. (via LPGA.com)
The LPGA, LET, and European Tour are teaming up for the ISPS Handa World Invitational, coming to Northern Ireland in late July. (via LPGA.com)
Ron Sirak calls the Gainbridge LPGA a “family affair” with the Sorenstams, Kordas, and Woods all drawing attention. (via LPGA.com)
Beth Ann Nichols is dubbing 2021 the “Year of the Kordas” after Nelly captures another title for the family, following sister Jessica’s win at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. (via Golfweek)
Nelly Korda earns her 4th career win at the Gainbridge LPGA. (via LPGA.com)
A full breakdown of Gainbridge LPGA winner Nelly Korda’s LPGA Tour career. (via LPGA.com)
Nelly Korda won in Orlando by three shots over Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko. (via Golf.com)
More on Nelly Korda’s fourth LPGA Tour win. (via GolfDigest.com)
What if Annika hosted the LPGA every year at Lake Nona? Beth Ann Nichols pitches an idea for “The Annika”. (via Golfweek)
Annika Sorenstam had no pressure at the Gainbridge LPGA because, according to Steve Eubanks, the people around her mean more than her scorecard. (via LPGA.com)
Annika made her return to competitive golf last week at her home course, Lake Nona. (via Golfweek)
Sorenstam almost missed the cut because of a bad ruling she received on Thursday. (via Golfweek)
The rules official that gave Annika a bad ruling apologized to the ten-time major champion. She handled it with class, per the usual. (via Golf.com)
More on the ruling that almost cost Annika the weekend at the Gainbridge LPGA. (via GolfChannel.com)
Despite carding a 75, Annika’s first competitive round back was nothing short of enjoyable for the GOAT. (via Golfweek)
Sorenstam shot a 75 in her first LPGA Tour round since 2008. (via Golf.com)
Gabriela Ruffels made the cut and got a paycheck last week, but how will she earn her LPGA Tour card this season? (via Golfweek)
Patty Tavatankit had a familiar face on the bag in Orlando last week: Grant Waite. (via Golfweek)
Marissa Steen Monday qualified into the Gainbridge LPGA last week and finished T8. (via LPGA.com)
Check out this interview on Golf Channel with Madelene Sagstrom about why she wanted to tell her sexual abuse story. (via GolfChannel.com)
Angel Yin has been having shoulder issues and has changed her swing to avoid surgery. (via GolfChannel.com)
Here’s Anna Nordqvist’s Drive On story. (via LPGA.com)
Check out this LPGA*USGA Girls Golf participant’s story. (via LPGA.com)
Rachel Melendez Mabee is the Program Specialist for PGA WORKS with the PGA of America. She talks about how she became interested in golf through her relationship with her father and the impact her great-grandmother had on her as well. (via GolfDigest.com)
LET competitor Annabel Dimmock had the opportunity to tee it up with Dustin Johnson in a pro-am and learned a ton from the world no. 1. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
The Spanish Golf Federation has created Goal 2023, an initiative that will allow two qualifiers to attend the 2021 Solheim Cup and encourage young women to want to make the European Junior Solheim Cup team in 2023. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
The LPGA has announced a partnership with female-owned Beltz Portable. (via LPGA.com)
SknVue and the LPGA Tour are teaming up to help the fight against skin cancer. (via LPGA.com)
The U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball will be played in Puerto Rico in 2022. (via Golfweek)
Puerto Rico will host it’s first USGA next year: the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball. (via GolfDigest.com)
Duke sweeps the Gamecock Intercollegiate, winning both the team and individual titles. (via Golfweek)
Division II Dallas Baptist beat a field full of Division I universities at the Kiawah Island Classic by 27 shots. (via Golfweek)
Check out the latest episode of “Any Given Tuesday” with guest this week and Golfweek writer, Julie Williams. (via Golfweek)
This Florida State junior is your women’s college golfer of the week. (via Golfweek)
Baylor is your women’s college golf team of the week. (via Golfweek)
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Gabriel Roux, LPGA Tournament Photographer
When did you become interested in photography? What led you to the LPGA Tour and serving as a tournament photographer?
I became interested in photography when I was a very young kid. My father owned Hasselblad cameras (formerly used by NASA). He would get magazines with pictures of those cameras in the hands of astronauts in space and boy, that was my dream!!
What led me to the LPGA is a rather long and complex story yet here it goes: one of my clients in Mexico sponsors Lorena Ochoa. I started bumping into Lorena doing portraits of her and started taking pictures in some of her client seminars and pro-am presentations. Then, Lorena had her Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara and I got hired as the tournament photographer. There in Guadalajara, I met Chris Garret who was the tournament director for a number of years. Then, Chris went back to the United States and trusted me enough to ask me to shoot one tournament and the rest is HISTORY!
In this role, what does a typical day look like? How do you capture images and how do you decide which ones to use?
A typical day goes by a shot list, which sometimes is massive. From there, I get instructions from the tournament and sponsors about what’s important for them for me to shoot. There are several things to capture such as top players with their logos very visible, branding, the amazing volunteers, signage, fans, player/fans interactions, leaders, and so on. In order to capture these images, I definitely have to get ahead of the action. I usually get into the media center an hour and a half before the first tee time. I will head out sometimes when it is still dark, grab some players warming up, some sunrise photos, volunteers, fans, and before the first tee time, I will grab a quick breakfast bite.
Then off they go! I have to get all the action and all of the players: teeing off, driving the ball, putting, off the sand, etc. For this, I have got to know what holes/fairways/greens will work best for that time of the day. Most of the players will give a great reaction after a great shot and unfortunately, a not-so-good reaction after an unlucky hole. I will make a recap by the end of the day with a set of pictures so the tournament can sort them out and send them to their clients, sponsors, and media partners.
Can you share your all-time favorite photo from your time with the LPGA? Why is it your favorite?
I have many many favorite LPGA photos! Many of them have a story behind them. Players who have been struggling with injuries, family issues, stress, etc. and would be victorious by the end of the week. But since you are asking for one, I will share this one with you: Suzann Pettersen making the final winning putt in Scotland during the past Solheim Cup edition. Suzann has to be the best at what she does; she is the kind of athlete/human being that has to excel at what she does. She gave everything she had every time she was on the golf course, left nothing to luck. She worked her mind and body tirelessly to be successful. The picture says it all.
Who’s the most high-profile person or what is the biggest event you’ve ever shot? Who are some of your preferred subjects to photograph on the LPGA Tour?
I have had the chance to photograph several high-profile people, such as George Bush Jr, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Condoleezza Rice to mention a few from the US political scene. Also, several Nobel Prize winners, presidents from different countries, athletes from different disciplines who’ve been world champions, and Olympic gold medalists. I have been blessed with this.
In the LPGA world, I had the honor of going to the White House with the winning Solheim Cup team for a reception with President Barack Obama. To talk about my favorite subjects to photograph on the LPGA Tour is sort of hard to explain. LPGA players go through a lot and have very very long days. Some will start their day at 4-5 am in the gym, early stretching out (physio), eat a brief breakfast, go to the venue, warm up, play a 4-5 hour round, have post-round practice, eat a brief meal, call with a coach, have a psychologist session and some are Moms. They do stuff like this every day, plus interviews, photoshoots, travel arrangements, flights, hotels, car rental, etc. So, after all this, my favorite thing to photograph is their smile while signing an autograph for a fan or a young kid.
What’s something that you would like people to know about being a professional sports photographer?
Being a sports photographer makes you more sensible and empathic to athletes. Athletes are special human beings who will go further and further every day in their quest for success. They will give it all for years day in and day out. Sometimes you become attached to these athletes and when they go through destitution or frustration, it hurts you too. But the best part is to see them in the field of battle doing what they signed up for. It’s a rush, it’s a sensation that you as a photographer have to capture so others can see it too through pictures.