June is finally here and the Volvik Championship has finished its second year as a tournament on the LPGA Tour. If you were out at Travis Pointe Country Club you’d notice that it seemed as if this tournament has been in southeastern Michigan for years.
As with anything, it’s usually the second year of a tournament is when you can tell if it is going to be successful or not, and after last weekend’s Volvik Championship, tournament organizers can see the impact it has on Ann Arbor. Like any other tournament or event, you look into things that you can make changes to to keep making people comeback for more.
This year, they added the Collegiate Shootout, which brought in the top Big Ten players and alumni as well as collegiate players from across Michigan to compete in a shootout to earn a sponsor exemption into last week’s tournament. Ohio State alumni Rachel Rohanna won the shootout on 18 beating Michigan State alumni Alyssa Ferrell to earn her spot in the field.
“Ann Arbor is not too bad of a place so far,” said Rohanna. “Everyone seems to be very nice, which is very unusual because people in Columbus don’t treat the Wolverines very nice. In all seriousness, I’m really excited to play next week, and Volvik is putting on a great show. I’m really happy to be in Big Ten country.”
Unlike last year, the weather wasn’t as consistent and all Michiganders know that the weather can change in a blink of the eye. It was raining on the first day of the tournament Thursday but even watching the tournament you could hear the cheers from the fans who didn’t let the weather deter them from coming out. Friday and Saturday saw a mix of weather conditions but the fans kept coming out to show their support.
During the third round on Saturday, the crowds were some of the largest so far seen at Volvik.
The tournament once again boasted one of the best fields on tour and the players didn’t disappoint. Stacy Lewis, Morgan Pressel and Anna Nordquist and 18-year old Nelly Korda made their Volvik Championship debut. Lewis and Korda would remain in contention all the way to Sunday.
LPGA stars Brittany Lincicome and Jessica Korda both barely made the cut at Travis Pointe but both made the most of their chances. On Sunday, Jessica Korda was 9 shots off the lead when she started her round and found a way to shoot a 7-under (65).
“I don’t know. I feel that certain holes are set up really nicely for me,” Jessica Korda said. “There are certain tee shots that I definitely don’t like, and if anybody’s watching me they know what it is. But I just like the golf course. I think it sets up really well for me. I like the big crowds, I love all the support that we get out here. Played a little different than last year so can’t really compare, but yeah, I can’t wait to come back next year.”
Shanshan Feng would win the tournament with a 1 shot lead of Minjee Lee and Sung Hyun Park. Entering Sunday’s final round, there was a wave of talented golfers at the top of the leaderboard with a chance to win. Even with tee times being moved up due to inclement weather predicted to hit Ann Arbor, the fans still showed up in full force and the galleries were filled with fans, volunteers and possibly the future stars of the LPGA Tour.
For the past year, a quote from Samantha Troyanovich after last year’s tournament sticks out:
“Who doesn’t love the Mitten in May when the suns out?”
One of the biggest sense of why the LPGA should stay in Ann Arbor was Shanshan Feng’s victory speech:
“And I did meet Mr. Moon at the pairing party this year and I asked him, I was like, Mr. Moon, can you make this 30 more years? And then he said, If you can play 30 more years. And that’s a challenge, but since I really love everything at this tournament, I’ll try to play until I’m 57. Mr. Moon, have we got 30 more years?”
Where do we go from here in the third year of the Volvik Championship? We won’t know that answer yet but you can bet that soon tournament director Keith Karbo and the rest of his staff will begin thinking of ways to help keep this tournament and smiling faces and personality of the LPGA Tour staying in Ann Arbor.