Sunday at Sybase: Behind-the-Cart Scenes
By Stephanie Wei under General

Anyone LPGA-ed out yet? Somewhat shockingly, I’m not after my week at Sybase. I had a fantastic time. There’s something about being on-site to cover a tournament that gets me fired up, not to mention inspired. Obviously, it helps make reporting on it much better and easier in most regards, especially when the media receives such great access at LPGA events. Plus, it sure beats writing by myself in my apartment — yeah, I was actually interacting with people in real life! I mean, it’s not like I have a bunch of Internet friends or anything.

Anyway! Thanks to the LPGA, Sybase, the players, Hamilton Farm and the Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz (who tweeted for the first time on Saturday night, follow him!), for a wonderful week.

Now I’m sure you’ve all been secretly thinking I should shut up about riding in the damn golf cart. Clearly, I’ve already turned into a lazy and jaded journalist. Actually, no. Okay, not completely. But point is, I got to see, hear and learn a ton of interesting things that I wouldn’t have been able to even while walking inside the ropes. Well, at least I can share some pictures with everyone.

On Saturday, I was riding with Christina Kim, who talked about the shots and the holes from a player’s perspective, for the back nine of the Michelle Wie-Jiyai Shin match. Like when Michelle hit her approach shot over the green to the “soft and wet” collection area. CK chirped that Wie would probably get relief because it was “soft and wet down there” (that’s what she said!) and her legs are so damn long that she’d probably be standing on the sprinkler head.

Back to Sunday. Jerry gave me a little tour of the Golf Channel compound (seriously, it was a little village and the crew sets it up for their coverage and it’s taken down by Sunday night) and we scarfed down lunch in one of the trailers. Exhilarating, I know. And I’m sure you all care. But I did get to eavesdrop a little on the production team chatting with the on-air talent about their upcoming telecast. You know, just which on-course commentator would cover which player and what they’d have the guest-player commentators do, etc.

Oh, Jerry gave me a tour of the TV trailer — I’d never been inside one before. It was kinda cool to see. There sure were a lot of screens with post-it notes under them, buttons and lights, computers and video crap. I felt like my mind was going to explode just looking at everything.

I hopped into Jerry’s cart on the third hole (I think) for the final match between Angela Stanford and Sun Young Yoo. Brittany Lincicome was walking with Jerry as the Golf Channel’s guest player commentator. Like in the the picture above, they’re getting ready to preview the 8th hole, a 171 yard par 3, before Stanford and Yoo played it. Jerry was checking out what he found in — excuse me, I mean, on his nose. Not a bad shot for a crappy camera on a crappy phone, huh? For five holes he kept trying to get something off his face. I’m unclear what the problem was, but bugs were probably sticking to the sunscreen on his face. Gross!

Oh, this was funny. While Brittany walked inside the ropes most the time, her bag was on the back of the cart, but the side with her name was hidden, so when people walked by, everyone kept looking at me, like they were trying to figure out which player I was. Kyle, better known by the production team as “Jerry’s cart driver,” was convinced someone would ask for my autograph by the end of the day. On the rare chance that happened — if some moron didn’t catch the huge “MEDIA” sticker and badge hanging around my neck — I was trying to decide which player I’d pretend to be. Brittany suggested, “Oh, just say you’re Yang or Kang, they won’t know the difference. You can even say you’re Michelle Wie and get away with it.”

Um, I could get away with pretending to be “Yang or Kang,” or hell, get really crazy and say, “Kim,” but I’m pretty sure if fans can recognize just one LPGA player, it’d be Michelle Wie.

Here’s the gallery strolling up the 9th hole. At first I was impressed with the size of the crowd, but then I remembered there were only two matches being played.

Meanwhile, on the 12th hole, Spanish rookie Azahara (or Aza, pronounced kinda like Atha) Munoz rolled up to replace Brittany, who was heading to join Brian Hammons and Michelle McGann in the announcers booth. In the top picture, they’re getting ready to preview the par 3 12th. Obviously, I didn’t catch the coverage, but did they air it? It was totally cute, but awkward because as Aza said afterward, “They caught me off-guard.”

She didn’t realize that Jerry was going to ask her to talk about the hole and she goes something like, “Um, it’s a par 3, 178 yards. I don’t know,” and gestures toward the hole behind her. I hope they aired it because she’s so cute that her awkward moment was endearing.

Angela Stanford hit her approach on the 13th over the green into that “soft and wet” (I just like writing that because I enjoy being sophomoric) area. She also received relief, but her chip didn’t turn out as good as Michelle’s did the day before. After chunking it, the ball rolled back into the same vicinity, but at least it wasn’t sitting down in the rough nearly as deeply.

The Golf Channel had Aza recreate the shot. She dropped a ball in the same vicinity and it was sitting pretty down in the rough. And she totally showed up Angela (okay, I know, different circumstances) by knocking it to an inch. They probably edited out me in the background saying, “Great shot! Nice!”

Similar deal on the 14th. Angela, who later said she hit a perfect shot, just a yard short, knocked her approach into the right bunker. She flew her shot well past the pin. Meanwhile, Aza stepped up and ran it to a foot.

Aza joked, “That’s why I lost [to Beatriz Recari on Friday] — I hit too many greens. Just make me [recreate a] putt and I’ll miss.”

Well, she certainly put on a short-game clinic on Sunday. She stuck around because she’s playing in a US Women’s Open Qualifier at Hawk Pointe in Washington, NJ, on Tuesday. (Good luck!)

I’ve been rambling for far too long. We can wait to discuss Jason Day shaking in his shoes and chunking his approach on the 72nd hole in the water, yet still winning the HP Byron Nelson Championship, and 16-year-old Jordan Spieth finishing T16. Bye.