LPGA stars shine during annual Founders Cup media day

Kicking off the Sixth Annual JTBC Founders Cup coming March 15-20 to Wildfire Golf Club at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, LPGA golf stars Cheyenne Woods, Sadena Parks, and Lizette Salas participated in a one-of-a-kind media day to which they arrived by helicopter.

The exciting morning was fierce with competition, as the best female athletes took on some of the most celebrated male sports stars in history in a friendly competition. As expected, the LPGA pros dominated the challenges, but not without help from the golf prodigies of the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program.

Woods kicked off media day after receiving tips from Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Famer, Nick Lowery. Members of the media and the community had the chance to watch the LPGA stars, LPGA-USGA Girls Golf members, and former MLB pitcher Russ Ortiz attempt to break glass targets in a chipping contest on the range, according to a press release.

The LPGA pros also put on a putting clinic with LPGA-USGA Girls Golf members. Golf Channel Analyst and Valley resident Brandel Chamblee added color commentary during the friendly matchups throughout the morning’s events.

“There was some pretty tough talk between the opposing teams as we boarded the helicopters,” stated Scott Wood, tournament director of the JTBC Founders Cup, in the release. “But once the LPGA pros got warmed up, the demonstration of athleticism and skill on the course showed just how much game these ladies really have.”

The three LPGA pros representing the JTBC Founders Cup at Media Day brought an unprecedented level of beauty, brawn and skill to the course. Even though Woods has a golf dynasty bloodline as the niece of Tiger Woods, the Arizona native golf superstar has risen to celebrity status on the LPGA Tour thanks to her powerful swing, the release stated.

Her averagedriving distance on the LPGA Tour last season was a blistering 275 yards, putting her on par with some of the best players on the PGA Tour.

Cheyenne Woods (photo by Melissa Rein)

Cheyenne Woods (photo by Melissa Rein)

“Being from Arizona, the JTBC Founders Cup is by far my favorite stop on the tour. It is amazing to play in my hometown with our incredible weather and fans and have the support of family and friends in the crowd,” Woods stated in the release.

Recently featured in ESPN Magazine’s ‘The Body Issue’, Parks is inciting major buzz on the tour as one of the most competitive players in the field. In 2014 she made history at the SYMETRA Tour Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla. by becoming the fifth African American woman to receive her LPGA Tour card.

Sadena Parks demonstrating to young athletes (photo by Melissa Rein)

Sadena Parks demonstrating to young athletes (photo by Melissa Rein)

Rounding out the trio was Lizette Salas, whose consistency and accuracy is unmatched, according to the press release. She broke through in 2014 with a win at the Kingsmill Championship presented by JTBC and has had the distinct honor of being part of two recent Solheim Cup teams, including the 2015 dramatic victory in Germany.  Last year, Salas made a staggering 22 of 24 cuts and finished in the top ten for driving distance and putting average.

The day’s events marked the official countdown to the JTBC Founders Cup, which gets underway Tuesday, March 15 with player practice rounds. Wednesday, March 16 is the fan favorite Pro-Am with Arizona Cardinals; Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson are expected to attend, the release stated.

“The first five years of this event have been a story of steady growth but now it’s time to take it to a much higher level.  Media day with helicopters, star players, celebrity athletes and talented young girls was a chance to show everyone we’re serious about doing something special in the Valley,” stated Kraig Kann, chief communications officer for the LPGA. “The JTBC Founders Cup was built on the vision of Commissioner Whan and it’s grown into something really special in a short few years.  I think everyone in the LPGA feels like the best is still to come and we’re really excited about that.”

This premiere stop on the LPGA tour has a $1.5 million purse up for grabs. High profile players including last year’s winner, Hyo Joo Kim, Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park are expected to vie for the title.

The JTBC Founders Cup was created to honor the 13 women who started the LPGA in 1950. Today the Founders Cup has a strong charitable component that speaks to its roots, helping raise close to $3 million for the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program. The money has helped bring the program to new markets and expand the scope in existing markets.

Tickets are now on sale at http://www.lpgafounderscup.com/ or for sponsorship information contact the Tournament Office founders@lpga.com or 1-386-236-1369.

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