Tournament Week Arrives for Inaugural Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft [Video]
Tournament week has arrived for the inaugural Meijer LPGA Classic Presented by Kraft.
The 20th stop on the LPGA Tour, the Meijer LPGA Classic is being played Thursday through Aug. 10 at Blythefield Country Club. Walker-based Meijer's nudge for a community-focused LPGA tournament is that all proceeds benefit Meijer's Simply Give food pantry-supporting and hunger-fighting program.
Nine of the top 10 LPGA pros are in the 144-player field, including Stacy Lewis, the No. 1 female golfer in the world; U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie; rookie superstar Lydia Ko; and veterans such as Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson.
Tickets for the Meijer Classic, which has a $1.5 million purse, are still available. Pre-tournament activities start Monday.
LPGA pros Nicole Castrale and Morgan Pressel have been the early faces for the Meijer LPGA Classic, making earlier appearances at Blythefield Country Club in Belmont and in greater Grand Rapids for the event.
Ko, of New Zealand, won the LPGA's last tournament. She shot 15-under-par 269 to capture the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens-Corning and O-I in Sylvania, Ohio, earning $210,000 for the $1.6 million event. Lewis tied for 25th, and Wie missed the cut.
Blythefield's 18-hole, 6,414-yard layout has hosted prestigious golf events, including the 1953 Western Amateur, 1961 Western Open and 2005 Western Junior. Its pro and director of golf and club operations is Patti Butcher, who was 2010 LPGA National Golf Professional of the Year.
Pro golf returns to Michigan
The 72-hole, stroke-play event is the LPGA Tour's first Michigan stop since 2000, when the Oldsmobile Classic ended a nine-year run in East Lansing.
“The field has shaped up nicely and we are excited to showcase Blythefield Country Club and all the Grand Rapids area has to offer,” Tournament Director Lesley Baker said.
“This community has been incredibly supportive from the start and we know the players will feel the same hospitality.”
This is Grand Rapids' first professional golf event since 2004, having hosted a Champions Tour event for 19 years.
This is the first regular pro golf tour stop in Michigan's Lower Peninsula since 2009, when the PGA Tour's Buick Open was held in Grand Blanc.
The 75th Senior PGA Championship Presented by KitchenAid was held May 22 to 25 at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor.
Ticket sales feed hungry
Besides being one of 32 stops this year on the LPGA Tour, the Meijer LPGA Classic is helping to feed is feeding the hungry. Classic proceeds are going to Meijer's Simply Give program, which has donated more than $6.5 million for food pantries in the communities it serves through its 207 stores in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky.
In addition the tournament's four-day run, there is a Monday qualifier at Blythefield, practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday and a pro-am event Wednesday. Monday's practices are closed to the public.
Available online, general admission tickets are $35 weekly and $15 daily apiece; with a limited number of daily reserved tickets $50 apiece.
The upgraded tickets include admission on a specified day to premium viewing on the 17th green and discounted food and beverages. All children ages 17 and younger get free admission to the Meijer LPGA Classic with a ticketed adult.
General parking will be at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) parking will be at Rockford High School in Rockford, with complimentary shuttles, according to tournament officials.
On Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Blythefield Country Club's driving range is the Meijer LPGA Junior Clinic Presented by Johnson & Johnson.
Daily coverage of the Meijer LPGA Classic is slated 5 to 7 p.m. EST Aug. 7 to 10 on the Golf Channel.
Community events related to the Meijer LPGA Classic include: