Defending tourney champion visits ToledoWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | email@example.com
Speaking at Sylvania’s Highland Meadows Golf Club on June 10, South Korean golfer So Yeon Ryu said she feels comfortable and energized at the location of last year’s Jamie Farr Toledo Classic win.
“It’s wonderful to be back here,” Ryu said. “After I won this tournament, I got a lot of confidence.”
Ryu will return next month to defend her title in the long-running LPGA tournament now called the Marathon Classic.
“I really want to defend my title. That’s really a big thing,” Ryu said. “I really remember all the spectators supported me so well last year. They encouraged me a lot.”
Ryu, last year’s LPGA’s Rookie of the Year, shot a 67-68-67-62 on the par 71 course to clinch a seven-stroke win. She won the U.S. Women’s Open in 2011, but last year’s win in Toledo was her first LPGA Tour victory as a member.
“[Winning in Toledo] made me [say], ‘Oh, maybe I can do it again. It wasn’t just only one win,’” Ryu said.
Ryu spent the morning June 10 at Spring Elementary School in North Toledo, talking to students about the science of golf, including why balls have dimples, what’s inside golf balls and why golfers need so many different clubs. She then visited Highland Meadows to speak with media before flying to New York.
Ryu, who lives in Los Angeles, said she enjoys watching professional sports, including baseball, ice hockey and basketball, and that she tries to learn something from all pro athletes.
‘Super busy time’
Preparations for this year’s tournament are in full swing, said Tournament Director Judd Silverman.
“It’s a super busy time pulling everything together,” Silverman said.
The 28th annual tournament will be held July 18-21 at Highland Meadows and will award $1.3 million in prize money, including $195,000 for the champion.
The lineup is shaping up to be one of the best in recent years, said Richard Hylant, general chairman of the tournament board.
“We have 10 of the top 10 on the money list, 16 of the top 20, and 45 of the top 50,” Hylant said.
Toledo-born Stacy Lewis, the world’s No. 2-ranked female golfer who spent several weeks at No. 1 earlier this year, plans to return as well as past tournament champions Paula Creamer (2008), Laura Davies (1988), Se Ri Pak (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007), Na Yeon Choi (2010) and Heather Bowie-Young (2005).
Last year’s tournament raised $301,000 for 10 local children’s charities. Since 1984, more than $7.75 million has been raised for more than 100 charities in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, Silverman said.
This year’s charities are Bittersweet Farms, Serenity Farm Equestrian Center, Diabetes Youth Services, Together We Can Make a Difference, Toledo Seagate Foodbank, Toledo Hearing & Speech Center, Imagination Station, Ronald McDonald House, Special Olympics Ohio, Sylvania Area Family Services and the Jamie Farr Scholarship Fund. The tournament will also award four college scholarships to area seniors.
Last year’s tournament featured a new event called Friday at the Farr, which encouraged cheering and interacting with players at the 14th hole. The hole was a hit with players and fans alike and will happen again this year, Silverman said.
“It was great,” Silverman said. “The players really embraced it, which was really fun to see. They came prepared. They were throwing all sorts of stuff up into the crowd — golf balls and hats and beads and all sorts of things — so that made it a lot of fun that the players were having fun with it.
“We’re very excited to build on that,” Silverman said. “We hope to double or triple the crowd out there on Friday afternoon this year.”
This year, Friday at the Far will be called Club 14. There will also be an After Play Par-tee near the 18th hole, featuring a performance by The Aaron Stark Band.
Farr, who retired from sponsorship this year, is still supportive of the tournament although Silverman didn’t think the iconic Toledo actor will be attending this year.
“I don’t think this year, but I don’t know about the future,” he said.
It was bittersweet to part ways with Farr, but reaction to the sponsorship change has been positive, Silverman said.
“We’re sad to see Jamie Farr retire after 27 years. He was such a integral part of the tournament every year. We will certainly miss Jamie and his smiling face and his wonderful personality,” Silverman said. “People realize when you get a new title sponsor it adds immediate financial stability to the event to go along with Owens Corning and Owens-Illinois as presenting sponsorships so that’s a wonderful trio of sponsors to have. It provides great opportunity for the future to continue to build the tournament’s stature and also to try to give more money to Northwest Ohio children’s charities.”
No matter the name, the LPGA tournament is always a thrill, Silverman said.
“We have the greatest women golfers in the world, so you’re going to get to see the best of the best and these ladies have never disappointed,” Silverman said. “The way they play the game is phenomenal.”
For more information, visit marathonclassic.com.