Notes: Hull, Ko pairing offers peek into future

Charley Hull (right) with European Solheim Cup captain Liselotte Neumann.

Charley Hull (right) with European Solheim Cup captain Liselotte Neumann.

Charley Hull doesn’t have any sponsors. She told her agent, a friend of the family, that she didn’t want any her first year.

“I wanted to go out and prove myself,” Hull said.

Done.

Hull was the darling of last week’s Solheim Cup, the 17-year-old superstar who lit up a room with her charming naivete. The youngest player ever in a Solheim Cup helped Europe win for the first time on American soil and then headed north to the CN Canadian Women’s Open, where she will compete this week on a sponsor exemption.

Playing alongside Hull, of England, these two next days will be defending champion Lydia Ko, a fellow teenage prodigy who last summer became the youngest player to win an LPGA event, at 15 years, 4 months old. They’ll join Canada’s Jennifer Kirby in the 7:45 a.m. Thursday tee time.

“She’s just one of a kind,” Suzann Pettersen said of Hull. “I mean, she’s very genuine, you know?”

These dream teens are a slam-dunk for tournament officials, offering fans a glimpse into the future of the LPGA.

Though Ko is still an amateur, the Kiwi will be playing her 10th LPGA event of the season. Ko has ruled out college golf, but she still has plans to further her education. As for plans to turn professional, she said, “We’re thinking.”

Hull, meanwhile, will be at the second stage of LPGA Q-School on Oct. 8-11 in Venice, Fla. She received special permission from the tour to participate despite not meeting the tour’s age requirement of 18. Hull turns 18 on March 20.

Two months ago, Hull deleted her Twitter account, saying “I didn’t feel like I could tweet what I wanted to tweet.” That’s a shame, considering all the great one-liners she delivered in Colorado, though probably wise.

And with that, she was off to get a massage to loosen up her back. Imagine how those teammates twice her age must have felt.

• • •

Bad news for the rest of the field in Canada: Inbee Park is back, and she “loves” the greens at Royal Mayfair Golf Club this week.

“The last couple weeks – last month, actually – we didn’t get this kind of speed yet,” Park said. “So I’m really excited to play fast greens and pure greens again.”

After coming up short in her bid for four consecutive majors, Park went home to South Korea for two weeks. She returned to the tour this week refreshed and ready to go.

Last year at the Canadian Open in Vancouver, Park finished second but took home a first-place check because Ko was an amateur. Park has won six times already this season.

“I feel like I’m ready and feel like all the pressure is off,” Park said. “I feel like I’m starting new now.”

• • •

Out of sight: The Lorena Ochoa Invitational has confirmed that the state government has pulled its financial support from the tournament, according to Guadalajara’s Mural newspaper. From 2008 to '11, the government annually gave $1 million to the event, and it was mainly used to pay for TV coverage. It’s very likely that this year’s event won’t be televised.

“It is very difficult to see that the people or the entity that receives more benefits from the tournament act as if they didn’t,” Ochoa’s brother and agent, Alejandro, told Mural. “So if there is another state, I am sure that the tournament could leave because it is the best event of the country. We will start to consider it next year.”

The Lorena Ochoa Invitational is the last Mexican tournament on the LPGA’s schedule. At the height of Ochoa’s career, there were three. This year’s tournament, in Ochoa’s hometown of Guadalajara, is scheduled for Nov. 14-17.

• • •

Last word: The Colorado Golf Club is a fine track. It’s challenging, interesting and picturesque. But to hear ardent golf fans say they would not come back to a Solheim Cup after their experience last week was a sad story.

Forget the gripes about face paint, stickers and hair ribbons. Let’s talk about course layout, concessions and parking. Word was it took 90 minutes to get from parking lot to first tee on Sunday. Also heard that at some point on Saturday there was a water shortage at concession stands. Given the heat, elevation and layout of the course, that’s unacceptable.

Finally, this track didn’t do the American team any favors. Putting aside, the roars weren’t nearly as loud as they could’ve been had the holes been more bunched together. The course was so spread out that, at times, only a few hundred fans were on the far corners cheering on premier groups.

In short, it was a hike. And a quick scan of the crowd would tell anyone that didn’t suit the audience.

Money talks when it comes to choosing a Solheim venue. But giving the fans an enjoyable experience should be a top priority.

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