The “Road to Rio” goes through Prattville, Ala., this week at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic as 28 players, who would currently be qualified for the Games, representing 20 countries are in the field. The Tournament celebrated accordingly by hosting a “Global Tire Challenge” in front of over 1,000 local school students.
Five players - Gaby Lopez (Mexico), Brittany Linciciome (USA), Mariajo Uribe (Columbia), Caroline Masson (Germany) and Stephanie Meadow (Ireland) - took turns hitting balls through tires hanging in the shape of the Olympic Rings.
“You know, it’s a unique experience,” Lopez said. “I think it’s a little bit of a taste of what’s going to happen in the Olympics, and it was just really cool to have all these kids and all the support. You see all the excitement. I was a kid once, and I was really, really impressed by LPGA golfers, and I’m really happy that we can impact their lives and their golf in the future. “
Masson, who won the challenge and took home a trophy and certificate for a set of new Yokohama Tires, echoed Lopez’s statement.
“Yeah, it was cool,” Masson said. “I didn’t expect that many kids. Walking up here, the atmosphere was great. I think they had a great time, so for us it’s just fun. Obviously showing off a little bit for the kids and it’s for the Olympics and it’s a cool little event and I think we all had a great time.”
Following the event the players spoke with the media about how they are looking forward to golf being back in the Olympics in 2016.
“Oh my goodness, I can’t wait for the Olympics,” said Lopez. “I am counting the days. I am very, very honored and pleased and very fortunate to have the experience and have the potential to be representing Mexico at one of the biggest events of athletes in the world, and I can’t describe the feeling and the excitement that I have to represent and wear the Mexican colors down in Rio.
GROWING THE GAME
LPGA players Dori Carter, Hannah Collier, and Lisa Ferrero got the opportunity to talk with over 1,000+ kids from around the Alabama area at the Junior Clinic sponsored by Alabama Power. The clinic was an opportunity for the players to share their stories about how golf has played a tremendous role in their lives.
For players like Carter and Collier, being able to talk to children about the game meant a lot for the both of them. Carter, who finished tied for 23 at last week’s Volunteers of America Texas Shootout, remembers being the kid always full of questions and wanting to go out and play.
“I used to be that kid,” Carter said. “That’s why it’s always so much fun to do these clinics because you never know who you’re going to inspire and you want to inspire as much as you can.”
Collier, a native of Birmingham and graduate of the University of Alabama, felt right at home when she spoke to the kids in her home state about that game and how she wants to see as many people get involved with the sport as much as possible.
“I wouldn’t be here if someone didn’t introduce me to the game at some point,” Collier said. “I think it’s good to get this many kids out here and get everyone involved and teach them about the game,. Golf is a game that’s growing and we should get as many people involved as we can.”
HANNAH COLLIER HAPPY TO BE BACK IN ALABAMA
Hannah Collier is excited to be competing in her home state of Alabama this week at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic.
“I’m more excited about this event than any other event in the year, just to come back to my home state, and I was really, really hoping I would get in this week,” Collier said. “This is my favorite event, I played here two years ago, and I just love, like, being back in my home state.”
The Alabama grad is looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd.
“I love being able to throw “Roll Tide” out there and get it back from everybody,” Collier said. “I think it’s great, you know, to have all the support from family and friends coming into town, and I think it’s just a great thing.”
MONDAY QUALIFIER WRAPS UP ON TUESDAY
After the Monday qualifier was rained out, players returned to the course on Tuesday morning trying to compete for the final two spots in the field.
Hanule Seo and Chirapat Jao-Javanil fired rounds of 68 and 70 respectively to earn their spots in the final Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic field.