LPGA restart at Inverness offers a look at Solheim Cup venue, potential team members

TOLEDO, Ohio – The 8:11 a.m. group of Angela Stanford, Amy Olson and Madelene Sagstrom will be mic’d up on Golf Channel for the first round of the LPGA Drive On Championship at Inverness. Players and television viewers are getting an advance look at the 2021 Solheim track and Stanford, along with Michelle Wie, was recently named an assistant captain under Pat Hurst. Sweden’s Sagstrom won her first LPGA title back in January at the new Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio.

This marks the first time an entire group will be mic’d up for television on the LPGA. Coverage for Friday’s first round begins at 9 a.m.

Former Solheim Cuppers Nelly Korda, Lexi Thompson and Carlota Ciganda tee off at 8 a.m.

Thompson warmed up for this week’s restart by competing in two men’s mini tour events. She hit only two drivers off the tee in Thursday’s 18-hole practice round. On both holes, Thompson purposely aimed down the wrong fairway. She’s mostly using a driving iron off the tee, hitting it 210 to 215 before getting another 50 or so yards of roll.

“I would say keeping it straight of the tee is the main focus,” said Thompson, “because distance isn’t really super key out here, because a lot of run-outs are about 270-ish and the ball is rolling a lot. So you don’t have to hit it too far in the air.”

Nelly Korda can’t wait for the chance to let some adrenaline escape her system.

“It’s been just sitting inside me for a couple months,” she said.

The World No. 2 moved out on her own for the first time during the pandemic break, getting an apartment that’s about 20 minutes from her parents’ house.

“I still see them almost every day,” she said. “Hey, what are you guys doing for dinner? Can I come over?”

Korda also switched out most of the clubs in her bag over the break. She had one two-week stretch where she didn’t touch a club.

As the tour eases back into action and builds its protective bubble, physio trainers aren’t on hand for players these first few weeks. (At the Drive On, only players and caddies and allowed on site – no coaches or trainers or family members.) Nelly said she and big sister Jessica packed an entire suitcase full of “recovery stuff.”

“I’m a little nervous about that,” said Nelly, “how my body is going to hold up, because I’ve always had a physio with me.”

Another interesting group of past and potential Solheim Cuppers goes off at 7:49 a.m.: Danielle Kang, Anna Nordqvist and Jennifer Kupcho.

Kang, a self-described homebody, said the break was good for her mentally. She enjoyed walking to Einstein’s in the mornings with her dog, hiking with boyfriend Maverick McNealy and painting (anything but portraits). She also worked quite a bit on her golf game, taking advantage of being close to instructor Butch Harmon in Nevada.

“It’s been a good off-time, but I’m glad to be back,” said Kang. “Like I said, I love the competition and I can’t wait to play.”

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