LPGA Drive On Championship Preview 2021
LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala
LPGA TOUR RETURNS TO GOLDEN OCALA TO CONCLUDE SEASON-OPENING FLORIDA SWING
The LPGA Tour returns to Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club for the first time since 2016 when the venue hosted the second playing of the Coates Championship presented by R+L Carriers won by Ha Na Jang. In 2015, Na Yeon Choi captured the inaugural Coates Championship presented by R+L Carriers. This time around, Golden Ocala is set to host 120 players from March 4-7 including the World No. 1 Jin Young Ko.
Most recent LPGA Tour champion Nelly Korda also highlights the field, as she ventures to Marion County fresh off her win at the Gainbridge LPGA. She is one of two LPGA winners so far in 2021, joined by her sister Jessica Korda, also in the LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala field. They are two of eight total players competing this week that call Florida home.
Both winners of the LPGA Drive On Championship events in 2020—Danielle Kang at Inverness and Ally Ewing at Reynolds Lake Oconee—are also eager to tee it up. In total, seven of the top-10 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings are at Golden Ocala to showcase the LPGA Tour and its branding initiative #DriveOn.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE LPGA DRIVE ON CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY VOLVIK AT GOLDEN OCALA
- This is the third time the LPGA Tour has played at Golden Ocala. Na Yeon Choi won the inaugural Coates Golf Championship presented by R+L Carriers in 2015 and Ha Na Jang won in 2016.
- As a 17-year-old, Lydia Ko finished in a tie for second at the 2015 Coates Golf Championship presented by R+L Carriers to climb to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, her first time at the pinnacle of the rankings. She still holds the record for youngest player ever to reach No. 1 in the world (male or female).
- The inaugural LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala is one of five tournaments on the 2021 LPGA Tour schedule to be contested in the Sunshine State, along with the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions (Lake Buena Vista), Gainbridge LPGA (Orlando), Pelican Women’s Championship (Belleair) and CME Group Tour Championship (Naples).
- Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club features eight masterful tribute holes from historic courses around the world including No. 4 (Royal Troon No. 8), No. 5 (Muirfield No. 9), No. 6 (Augusta National No. 16), No. 11 (Augusta National No. 12), No. 12 (Augusta National No. 13), No. 13 (Old Course at St. Andrews No. 17), No. 14 (Old Course at St. Andrews No. 1) and No. 15 (Upper Course at Baltusrol No 4).
ALLY EWING PERSONIFIES DRIVE ON MESSAGE
As the LPGA Tour prepares for the Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, the winner of the most recent Drive On Championship at Reynolds Oconee reflected on the personal message behind Drive On and what it means to be a champion of a Drive On event.
“Obviously, the Drive On Championship for me is always going to be a special one,” said Ally Ewing. “But I think just the message that the LPGA is trying to send with that campaign, I think it’s reaching far beyond golf. To use our platform, the LPGA Tour, to reach the younger generation or even kids who are just constantly being reminded to Drive On, whether you have a deficit or a setback in life. Maybe you have Type I diabetes. Maybe you have something in your life. It’s just a reminder to Drive On in this life and in golf.”
Ewing’s personal story of battling Type 1 diabetes and going on to not only compete on the LPGA Tour but become a winner and a member of the 2019 U.S. Solheim Cup team is exactly what Drive On means.
“When I found out (I had Type 1 diabetes) right after I got my tour card from the Symetra Tour, the overwhelming feeling for me when my doctor called, it just felt like, how am I going to actually overcome this and I’m just now getting started on the LPGA. It was kind of like an, ‘Oh, no’ moment. In reality the doctors, technology, have advanced so far in the Type I diabetes community that if you really take care of yourself there are so many things out there for you to be able to manage it.
“It’s an everyday battle. Some days are different than the others, but you just manage it. You stay on top of things.”
ANGEL YIN HAPPY TO ENJOY THE GOLDEN OCALA EXPERIENCE
Not quite a year after taking herself out for the season due to a nerve-related shoulder injury, five-year LPGA Tour veteran Angel Yin is as happy as she’s been and as healthy as she could hope for ahead of her second event of the 2021 season.
“I feel good. I felt really good after the results I got last week. Going into last week, I was actually really nervous because of my results last year and what I was going through,” said Yin, who placed seventh at Gainbridge LPGA. “I know I didn’t have that much time and I was changing a lot of things, so I was quite nervous with how everything was going to go. But I was really happy. Being able to the play in the last group meant a lot to me. It was more about testing myself and seeing where I am.”
With a new tournament comes a new golf course, though, and Yin is excited about testing her game on new ground.
“I just played nine holes today. I’m excited to see how this week will play out. My caddie has been telling me that all these holes are kind of tributes of famous courses around the world like Augusta and Troon,” said Yin regarding course setup. “I’m like, ‘Wow, one minute I’m in Europe and one minute I’m in Georgia.’ So it’s pretty cool to see all of that, because I’ve never played those courses except for Troon.”
ANNA NORDQVIST #DRIVEON STORY: “THIS IS FOR EVERY GIRL WHO’S BEEN TOLD TO GIVE UP”
You might recognize the title of this piece from the LPGA’s Drive On film, “This is for Every Girl.” I was one of five players in that film, shot at the 2019 HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore. Each of the players read the full script, and the editors assembled the narration by choosing the lines we delivered best. That was my line, my voice.
What the editors didn’t know was how much that line means to me. Here’s why.
Things in life have never come easy for me. I wasn’t the smartest girl in class or the most talented athlete. It’s funny to say that now as a two-time major champion, but that’s because I worked at it. Whatever I felt I lacked in talent, I made up for in hard work. When I put in the time, the success came, both in school and in sports. There’s never been any other way than to work extremely hard and put my full heart into overcoming challenges.
And there have been plenty of challenges.
I didn’t start playing golf until I was 13 years old. That, in and of itself, is a hurdle when it comes to competing on the LPGA Tour. By that age, Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson were already competing in majors. I was still learning the game.
My grandfather would take my two brothers and me to the golf course to practice. We would spend time with him rather than going to daycare when our parents were at work. Those were some of my favorite memories, spending time with Grandpa. He was always my biggest role model. He was also the most stubborn person I’ve ever met. I probably inherited that trait from him. He was my biggest cheerleader, always sending me little messages of encouragement, telling me to keep fighting. To never give up.
Those were the words I’d think about when it took me four years of practicing to qualify for the Swedish National Team. Day and night, winter and summer, in the rain and the snow. There were no conditions that scared me away. I was the one on the range when other golfers started their round and I was still practicing long after they finished. I had to outwork everyone else to prove not just to myself but to those around me that I had the talent to compete with the best in Sweden. “Keep fighting,” Grandpa would tell me. Those were the words that kept me going when I left my family to move to the United States to play golf at Arizona State University.
To read the rest of Anna’s first-person piece on LPGA.com, click here:
Link to video: https://www.lpga.com/videos/2021/never-give-up-anna-nordqvist-s-drive-on-story
MORGAN PRESSEL JOINS GOLF CHANNEL AND NBC AS ANALYST AND ON-COURSE REPORTER
NBC Sports announced today that major champion and two-time LPGA Tour winner Morgan Pressel has joined GOLF Channel and NBC as an analyst and on-course reporter for LPGA Tour and PGA TOUR coverage. She will make her 2021 on-air debut this week at the LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala on GOLF Channel.
Pressel – who will also continue to compete on the LPGA Tour – will provide analysis and insights for numerous events throughout 2021, including the U.S. Women’s Open, Amundi Evian Championship, Solheim Cup, and the PGA TOUR’s Honda Classic.
“I’m excited to join the NBC Sports and GOLF Channel family in a greater capacity this year, alongside my competitive playing schedule on the LPGA Tour,” said Pressel. “It is humbling for me that NBC has given me the opportunity to build on my experience in this area of our game and to learn from some of the best people in the business in the process. I can’t wait to get started.”
“Morgan Pressel is one of the most respected players in the game and we’re thrilled to have her join the GOLF Channel and NBC team,” said Molly Solomon, executive producer, GOLF Channel. “Morgan’s experience as a major champion, a USGA Champion and a six-time member of Team USA at the Solheim Cup – combined with her continued competitive schedule on the LPGA Tour – will make her a tremendous fit for our wide-ranging golf portfolio.”
Owning one of the most decorated careers in women’s amateur golf history, Pressel became the then-youngest player to ever qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open in 2001 at age 12. On the LPGA Tour, she became the then-youngest-ever winner of a modern major championship when she won the 2007 ANA Inspiration (formerly the Kraft Nabisco Championship) at age 18. Pressel is a six-time member of Team USA at the Solheim Cup and owns two career LPGA Tour victories.
Pressel brings prior on-air experience to her role with GOLF Channel and NBC. In addition to serving as a guest on-course reporter for LPGA Tour coverage on GOLF Channel, Pressel has been an analyst for the U.S. Senior Women’s Open as well as digital coverage of the U.S. Open for FOX Sports.
LPGA DRIVE ON CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY VOLVIK AT GOLDEN OCALA PARTNERS WITH BELTZ PORTABLE TOILETS IN SUPPORT OF LOCAL, FEMALE-OWNED BUSINESS
The LPGA Tour continues to expand its Diversity, Equity & Inclusion footprint, as it welcomes female-owned Beltz Portable Toilets as the Official Portable Toilets Provider to the LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala this week.
“The LPGA Tour is an organization that has a top priority of promoting the growth and empowerment of women,” said Darla Eberst, owner of Beltz Portable Toilets. “It is not just about women playing professional golf, but enabling girls and women of all ages and at all levels to be better, perform better and go further. That is also my mantra and I am proud to be partnering with the LPGA.”
Located in Williston, Fla., Beltz opened for business in November of 2010. They provide reliable, clean portable toilets to greater Alachua County and the central Florida region. Whether for a construction site or large event, Beltz Portable Toilets delivers affordable service with quality customer care. The company is comprised of five women and dedicated to offering hygienic portable sanitation facilities.
“It is really special to learn about and join forces with Beltz,” said Emily Norell, tournament operations director for the LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala. “They are connected to the local community and have left a positive mark in the area for more than a decade now. We are so happy to have Darla and her team on board for this event, which celebrates the LPGA brand #DriveOn. There’s no better way to highlight the campaign than with a company that embodies its spirit.”
The LPGA has not been quiet about their messaging on diversity as the Tour recently acknowledged the topic with this statement: “Our goal at the LPGA is to change the face of golf, making the sport we love more accessible and inclusive. Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of who we are and what we do.”
To learn more about services offered by Beltz Portable Toilets, please visit beltzseptic.com.
PAR-5 12TH SERVES AS THE AON RISK REWARD CHALLENGE HOLE AT GOLDEN OCALA
In the LPGA Tour return to Golden Ocala, this scorable par-5 is patterned from the 13th hole (Azalea) at Augusta National Golf Club. In a similar fashion, a creek protects the entire left side of the hole and meanders in front of and along the right side of the green. A player’s tee shot is key and for the right-handed player, a draw is needed for optimal positioning. Individuals that find the fairway with their drive will face an enticing approach to a large multi-level green but also the risk of a difficult greenside bunker, or coming up a hair short and rolling into the creek. A layup could offer a better opportunity to properly position on the green.
For more information on this week’s Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole and the season-long competition, click here: https://www.lpga.com/statistics/aon-risk-reward-challenge
RACE TO THE CME GLOBE UPDATE
The 2021 season-long Race to the CME Globe heats up at the LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala, the third event of the year. With her win at the Gainbridge LPGA, Nelly Korda earned 500 points and holds the No. 1 spot. Her sister Jessica Korda is ranked second with 524 points, followed by Lexi Thompson (420 points). Danielle Kang and Lydia Ko sit in a tie for fourth with 320 points apiece.
The Race to the CME Globe is a season-long points competition in which LPGA Tour Members accumulate points in every Official LPGA Tournament to gain entry into the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. The player who wins the CME Group Tour Championship will be named the “Race to the CME Globe Champion.”
Starting in 2019, players will earn points at each official LPGA Tour event throughout the season leading up to the CME Group Tour Championship. The top-60 points earners and ties will then earn a spot in the CME Group Tour Championship, with the entire field competing for the $5 million purse and $1.5 million winner’s check, the largest single prize in the history of women’s golf.
TOURNAMENT VIDEOS AND PHOTOS
For links to pre-tournament press conference videos and complimentary tournament photos, please contact LPGA Tour Media. Tournament imagery is provided as a courtesy by Getty Images and the LPGA strictly for editorial use. All images are intended for media publishers only and cannot be redistributed, sold or licensed by any individual or company provided with access. To access the additional LPGA Tour tournament imagery, contact Brandon Lopez for licensing: email@example.com.
@LPGA and @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram), #DriveOn
TV TIMES (all times Eastern and Live on Golf Channel)
Thursday, March 4: 10 a.m.—1 p.m.
Friday, March 5: 10 a.m.—1 p.m.
Saturday, March 6: 2:30—5:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 7: 2:30—5:30 p.m.
LIVESTREAM TIMES (all times Eastern on the NBC Sports App and golfchannel.com)
Thursday, March 4: 10 a.m.—1 p.m.
Friday, March 5: 10 a.m.—1 p.m.
Saturday, March 6: 2:30—5:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 7: 2:30—5:30 p.m.
WHITELINE PAR AND YARDAGE
36-36—72; 6,526 yards (subject to change through the start of the tournament)