The Legends of the LPGA — Gold medalist Nelly Korda’s winning press conference — Must-click women’s golf links

The IX: Golf Thursday with Sarah Kellam, August 12, 2021

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The Legends of the LPGA deserve more

Coming off a two-week adventure in the Northeast covering the U.S. Senior Women’s Open and the U.S. Women’s Amateur, I got to thinking about how some factions of golf are treated compared to others.

Shockingly, the women’s amateur game seems to be on a similar level as the men’s in terms of coverage, with the USGA covering the Women’s Amateur and the Amateur with the same amount of fervor and Golf Channel paying just as much attention to the women as they do the men with their college golf programming. 

In fact, you probably know more of the top female amateur golfers at the moment than you do their counterparts. That’s because luckily players like Rose Zhang and Rachel Heck, and Emilia Migliaccio’s accomplishments haven’t been dismissed due to their gender.

But, the senior women are a whole other story. 

The U.S. Senior Women’s Open is the marquee event for the Legends of the LPGA, a tour for female professionals and amateurs 45-and-over still looking to play golf competitively. The organization was founded in 2000 by 25 former LPGA Tour players and while it’s been around for over two decades, I guarantee most golf fans have never heard of it.

Compared to the PGA Tour Champions — the men’s senior professional circuit — which boasts a full schedule of 20+ events for their members, the Legends of the LPGA only has four tournaments on their docket, likely due to lack of adequate funding and lucrative sponsorships. 

After Annika Sorenstam’s eight-shot victory at Brooklawn Country Club two weeks ago and her commitment to playing in the BJ’s Charity Championship in September, there seems to be potential for financial growth and increased brand recognition for the Legends of the LPGA with the Greatest of All Time’s endorsement by playing. Add in their recent announcement of a partnership with the LPGA Tour and it appears that expansion could be on the horizon.

But until that actually happens, it’s a travesty that some of the game’s greats don’t have the opportunity to continue competing. And we aren’t just talking about a tour for journeywomen of days gone by, but rather major champions like Amy Alcott, Juli Inkster, and Dame Laura Davies. 

As the great line from one of my all-time favorite baseball movies The Sandlot goes, “heroes get remembered, but legends never die”. While that’s true in the senior men’s game, golf has forgotten about the legends of the game on the women’s side. Once you retire from the LPGA Tour, you’re put out to pasture and your achievements are brushed under the rug, only to be dusted off for a graphic on a broadcast or a ceremonial anniversary. Golf can’t continue to let that happen. 

Even though this venture might not seem like the most worthwhile of causes in the crusade to “grow the game”, these women that propelled golf forward at a time when it wasn’t taken as seriously are so valuable and should be treated as such. They deserve just as much of a chance as their male counterparts and it’s high time they are provided the same opportunity.

It’s a tall order to rectify the situation, but the newfound agreement with the LPGA and Annika’s interest in supporting the organization are great starts. Let’s hope that progress is coming for the senior women’s tour and that the Legends of the LPGA finally start to get the recognition that is crucial to its survival.

This week in women’s golf

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Tweets of the Week

Five at The IX: Gold medalist Nelly Korda’s winning press conference

Nelly, the incredible season continues. You came in as the No. 1 player in the world with lots of momentum, but you were able to sustain that and win the gold medal. Now that you have the gold medal around your neck, how does that feel?

It feels amazing. After today Lydia was playing really well, so was Mone, they both played super well, so we were all bunched up there. It was very stressful, but I kept it together. I fought pretty hard. As you said, I’ve had a pretty good stretch of events, but it doesn’t mean necessarily that you’re going to play well, so you kind of try to put the expectations to the side and just go out and have a nice fresh week and enjoy the Olympic experience because it’s such a unique and fun experience now doing it for the first time. As Lydia said, you play for more than just yourself, you also play for your country. So it’s safe to say I really enjoyed my first Olympic experience.

Start of the year if you would have been told that you would win your first major, go to No. 1 in the world, become an Olympic champion would you have thought that possible?

No, I would tell the person to leave. Honestly, it’s crazy. With sports, it’s so different because you’re constantly looking ahead for your next event so it never really gets to kind of sink in. I think I’ll look back at the season after the season is done, but right now there’s still a lot of big events coming up, but when I do look back it’s just crazy.

When you were first starting out in your golf career when did you first learn how to maintain your composure, even when you had some chasers starting to come up toward the end of the tournament?

I’m still learning. Honestly, every situation I guess is different. You’re put in a different situation each time you’re in contention. It’s kind of funny, but my parents always say that I’m a lion because since a young age I’ve always been super determined and super focused on what I want. In a sense, I feel like it’s built inside of me.

Is this the biggest win of the year or the biggest win of the career?

I think every win is special in its own way, I wouldn’t say one win is more special or one win is bigger. Each win has a significant meaning to me, something that I’ve gone through or whatnot. Obviously, it’s amazing to be a gold medalist and to even just be an Olympian is and to represent your country. You have to be at the top of the top to come to the games. But I wouldn’t say one win is more special than the other because they all are special.

If you think about post-U.S. Women’s Open and what you’re doing now, what triggered it? What are you doing well or what has led to this do you think?

I honestly have no idea. I don’t know. I hope I find out because then I’ll keep doing it. You get on these waves in sports where sometimes everything’s going well and then sometimes you’re working so hard and nothing is going well. So right now I’m riding it out. There’s always going to be a challenge, golf always humbles you, so I’ll see what I can always improve on and go from there because the game’s always evolving, players are getting better, so you’re constantly learning and you’re constantly working harder and harder every year.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Sarah Kellam, @sarahkellam,
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08, NWHL Broadcaster
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Jessica Taylor Price, @jesstaylorprice, Freelance Gymnastics Writer

Written by Sarah Kellam