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On the Beat


All the Stars Align T


he other day three golfers— Stephen, Andre and Lydia— were discussing this summer’s U.S. Women’s Open, which will be


played at CordeValle in San Martin. “Will you be able to come out and


watch?” Lydia asked. “I’d love to,” Stephen said. “I’ve got a lot to learn. I’d like to watch. . .oh man, what’s her name?” He panto- mimed a slow, steep takeaway. “Inbee!” “Yeah, I love that swing.” Someone asked Andre if he’s a fan


of women’s golf. “Huge fan,” he said. “I watch it all


the time. I bet I can name the top five in the World Ranking.” Prove it. “Inbee is number two. Lexi [Thomp- son] just took over number three.


Behind her is Stacy Lewis. The fifth spot. . .” “You forgot number one.” Andre laughed and said, “She’s


standing right there.” Indeed, Lydia Ko was a foot away at the Golden State Warriors prac- tice facility, as Andre Iguodala was kind enough to point out. At that exact moment Ko and Stephen Curry were engaged in a putting contest on the hardwood. She had dropped by to promote April’s Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic at Lake Merced Golf Club in San Francisco. When Ko’s managers first approached the War- riors the reception was lukewarm. . . until Curry caught wind and said he was dying to meet her. “And if Steph gets excited about something,” said one team official, “then we get


excited, too.” All of this is to say that if the biggest star in the sporting universe and his capable wingman are both thrilled about the 71st Women’s Open, shouldn’t you be, too? The championship will be played


July 7-10. Tickets are about as cheap as it gets for a big-time sporting event: $85 for the “2-entry flex package,” with which the purchaser may elect to use one admission on two separate days or two admissions on a single day. (Go to 2016uswomensopen.com/ncga for more ticket options and NCGA member- exclusive pricing.) I’ve been to a handful of Women’s Opens and it’s a terrific spectator experience, with all the gravity and pageantry of the U.S. Open but much smaller crowds and thus easier logistics. LPGA players are among the most gracious and accommodating athletes in profes- sional sports, and even at their most important championship they’re always happy to sign autographs and mug for selfies after the round. (At the U.S. Open, the grumpy competitors tend to treat the fans as if they’re 5" rough—that is, just one more challenge that must be overcome.) This will be only the third Wom-


Lydia Ko dropped by the Golden State Warriors practice facility to promote April’s Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic at Lake Merced Golf Club in San Francisco.


12 / NCGA.ORG / SPRING 2016


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