The LPGA is back in North Texas with the Volunteers of America Classic at the Old American Golf Club in The Colony.
The rescheduled tournament (from October) now doubles as a tuneup for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open that will be contested at Champions Golf Club’s Cypress Creek Course in Houston and the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, Fla., the following week.
The VOA Classic is in its third year at the links-style Old American Golf Club designed by Tripp Davis and 12-time PGA TOUR winner Justin Leonard after its first five events took place at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving.
The 120-player field this week includes world No. 1 Jin Young Ko, two-time VOA Classic champion and world No. 5 Inbee Park, 2014 VOA Classic champion Stacey Lewis and defending champion Cheyenne Knight.
Knight, 23, who resides in Aledo, enjoys playing close to home.
“It’s nice. It’s more comfortable. You know, it’s different than staying in a hotel, having a rental car, but you know, I know where everything is, I don’t even need a GPS,” Knight said. “Yeah, coming home every night, sleeping in my own bed with my family and my dogs. Because the weather’s colder, I don’t need to go buy anything because I have everything at home in my closet, so it’s really nice.”
Another Texas golfer in the field is Kristen Gillman, 23, who is originally from Austin. Gillman is looking forward to playing even though there will be no fans allowed on the grounds.
“Everyone’s been texting me and asking if they can come and watch, so sadly I have to keep telling them ‘No, sorry, fans aren’t allowed yet.’ I know that they’re all watching and they’re all excited to watch live scoring,” she said. “I mean, they’re just excited to be able to see me compete. Even though they won’t be here in person, they can at least watch some of it on TV. I think they’re excited to see me out here playing in Texas.”
VOA CLASSIC CHARITY CHALLENGE
The festivities kicked off with the VOA Classic Charity Challenge on Wednesday afternoon featuring Texas natives Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller taking on Sophia Popov and Mel Reid in what was billed as a “Solheim Cup-style showdown” between Team USA and Team Europe.
Playing the back nine of the Old American Golf Club’s par-71 layout, they were joined by former Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler and former Stars goalie Marty Turco to play the par-5 No. 17th hole.
“I like to get beat up psychologically, that’s why I play golf,” Kinsler cracked on the Golf Channel broadcast. “I’ll swing hard in case I hit it.”
And hit it he did. Kinsler’s drive carried 299 yards for Team USA, albeit a little off the fairway.
Turco ripped his drive as well and donned a Stars goalie mask for his walk down the fairway.
Kinsler and Turco each drained birdie putts on No. 17, carrying the