By Murray Gleffe
HOBART-There is no place quite like Thornberry Creek and Oneida for the LPGA. “No where else would there be this much media and support at an LPGA event than in the Greater Green Bay Area,” said Mike Scanlan, IMG Corporate communications manager.
With the second year of the event set to start in early July, PGA Chief Operating Officer Josh Doxtator, assembled last year’s winner Katherine Kirk, and one of the top amateur female golfers in the world Alexa Pano to come to the golf course for some questions and some live golf June 5.
“We need that community support to continue to showcase our event,” said Doxtator. “Around 91 percent of the people that attended last year were from the state of Wisconsin. People love their sports in this area. We have also increased our sponsorship by 35 percent this year, and in addition we are thrilled to add Mason Crosby and Blake Martinez to the Pro-Am.”
Attendance was more than 60,000 for the week.
Last year’s winner, Kirk, set a blistering mark at 22 under par and won with a final putt on the 18th green.
“Super excited to be back,” said Kirk. “I have nothing but great memories being here at Oneida Nation last year. One thing that sticks in my head is being on the seventh hole in the final round. A couple of young girls wanted my autograph and I was happy to talk to them and sign their flags with a Sharpie. We as players need to inspire that next generation of young golfers whenever that opportunity presents itself.”
The real buzz, however, around Thornberry Creek Country Club was the presence of Pano.
The 13-year-old phenom from Lake Worth, Florida was awarded a sponsor’s exemption into the tournament.
She has won more than a dozen of national events worldwide.
Pano competes mainly in American Junior Golf Association tournaments, has won the Drive, Chip, and Putt competition at Augusta National Country Club where the Masters is staged each year, and has appeared in a movie “The Short Game”.
She even has her own website, alexapano.golf, all before reaching the ninth grade.
“I want to thank the LPGA for giving me the chance to compete in this tournament,” Pano said. “I don’t want to set a number, but just want to try my best and do well each and every shot.”
The two competitors finished the day with a chip off from around the clubhouse area down to a practice putting green.
Kirk nearly holed out to edge out Pano by a couple of feet.
She donated the money to the First Tee of Northeast Wisconsin.
It is a program that has been around since its inception in 1997 and has reached over 9 million participants.
Some new and fresh ideas have also been put in place for the 144 golfers that will take to the opening tee in July.
Keep reading The Press to find out more about the Thornberry Creek Classic in the coming weeks.
For tickets or more information visit thornberrycreeklpgaclassic.com to select from a number of different options for the week.