College golfers Lindsey McPherson, left, and Grace Choi joined the field of pros at the 2014 Meijer LGPA Classic. Photo via fb.com
A week full of LPGA golf and related events is underway in Grand Rapids.
The $1.5-million Meijer LPGA Classic, presented by Kraft, will host a full field of 144 golfers playing 72 holes in four days at the Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, beginning Thursday.
The tournament is the first major women’s golf event in Michigan since the Oldsmobile Classic in East Lansing.
The field at Blythefield this week will be filled with the top women golfers in the world, including the No. 1 golfer in the world, Stacy Lewis, rookie phenom Lydia Ko and Michelle Wie, the U.S. Women’s Open champion. Also teeing off will be golfers Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson.
Nine of the top 10 women golfers will be in attendance.
“The field has shaped up nicely, and we are excited to showcase Blythefield Country Club and all the Grand Rapids area has to offer,” said Lesley Baker, tournament director. “This community has been incredibly supportive from the start, and we know the players will feel the same hospitality.”
A portion of the tournament’s proceeds will support local food pantries in Meijer communities through the retailer’s Simply Give program, which has generated more than $9 million since it began in 2008.
Tickets to the tournament are $25 for weekly general admission and $15 for daily passes. Those 17 and under will be admitted for free.
As the tournament’s title sponsor, Meijer was given two college exemptions, which the company used on a pair of women golfers from Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.
Lindsey McPherson joins the field from MSU and Grace Choi from U-M.
“We hope that by providing this opportunity, we’re helping them to grow in their careers if they choose to join the professional ranks,” said J.K. Symancyk, president, Meijer. “As a company focused on our community, we are also very excited to bring local talent to the field of professionals.”
McPherson will be a senior and is coming off a career best ninth-place finish at the Big Ten championships.
Choi will be a sophomore and averaged a 75.64 strokes per round as a freshman.
“We know these ladies have great careers ahead of them — both on and off the field — and we’re thrilled to have them play in the tournament this year,” Baker said. “Giving these local amateurs a chance to prove themselves on the biggest stage is great, not only for the players, but also for the fans and the community.”
On Wednesday, there is the Meijer LPGA Jr. Clinic, where children will be guided through golf lessons with two LPGA pros.
On Friday, several celebrity chefs will compete in a cook-off at the Grand Rapids Public Museum: Cat Cora, Carla Hall and Gail Simmons. Each chef will prepare a three-course meal, which will be judged by a local celebrity and Meijer, LPGA and Kraft representatives.
The winning chef will choose four local food pantries to receive a donation. There will also be an interactive display for each chef to interact with guests. Tickets for the event are $100 and include food, wine and a tournament ticket.
“The Grand Rapids area has an appreciation for food, and we think this event is a great way to pair world-class culinary creations and great entertainment with a cause that does so much good within Meijer communities,” said Randy Stewart, group vice president of foods, Meijer.
On Saturday, a 5k and breakfast will be held at Rockford High School.
Later in the day, at Fifth Third Ballpark, General Mills will host a community concert featuring country acts Gary Allan and Big & Rich. Tickets to the concert start at $10.