My summer beer of choice? Bud Light. It's refreshing and gets the job done. I find the flavor and price to be spot on. It is a solid if not spectacular choice.
Recently, while vacationing, I sipped an Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager. Wow! Smooth, flavorsome and stronger than your typical 3.2 store bought can. So here's my dilemma.
Should I forego my years of loyalty to Anheuser-Busch because of one chance meeting with this superb strawberry lager? Bud Light didn't do anything wrong. Should I punish my old friend?
This is the situation we face with this year's SemGroup Championship. We tasted Tiger, Phil, Woody and Daly last year. Will Ochoa, Pressel and Kerr go down as smooth?
"We hope that golf fans will buy their tickets early and make plans to spend time watching the top female golfers in the world tackle one of the most challenging golf courses on the LPGA Tour," said Tournament Director Doug Eibling in a press release.
The ladies of the LPGA have never drawn the hoards like the PGA. Don't kid yourself into thinking they get the respect they deserve. But, for my money, you can't beat the experience of seeing these pros up close.
I fought through layers of spectators to see Tiger Woods tee off on the eighth hole on Sunday last year. I missed his epic birdie putt because I couldn't see through people stacked 10 rows deep.
Two years ago I followed Lorena Ochoa, the female equivalent of Tiger, for an entire round of golf. She was paired with the well-liked Cristie Kerr. I was never more than 20 feet away. X-ray vision was not needed.
I guess what I'm trying to say is it's different. Duh. It's a different feel. A different crowd. A different experience.
The event expanded from a three-day to a four-day, 72-hole tournament. The purse totals 1.8 million. They expect a larger, more talented field. However, the top players have never shied away from T-Town in the past. The 10 top-ranked players in the world are committed to the Tulsa tourney.
Proceeds from the event will benefit local charities. The 8th annual SemGroup Championship announced this year's recipients will be The Children's Hospital at Saint Francis, Family and Children Services of Oklahoma and DaySpring Villa.
She Got Game
Lorena Ochoa, the reigning LPGA Player of the Year, committed to play again this year. Here's an idea for the daily paper. You know how the media tried to turn last year's PGA Championship into a Tiger vs. Southern Hills story? Well, Ochoa has yet to win at Cedar Ridge. You feelin' me?
The Mexican sensation should be the story entering the May 1-4 tournament in our backyard. Can she defeat the trees at Cedar Ridge (or what's left of the trees after last year's ice storm)?
The week revolves around the brightest star with the contagious smile. We heap praise on dominating figures like Roger Federer in tennis. Tiger Woods in golf. Peyton Manning in football. Wilt Chamberlain with the ladies. We applaud them for being the standard bearer in their respective fields.
Ochoa is left out of the discussion. What will it take to elevate her into the conversation? She blistered the field in the year's first major. She captured five of her first six starts to the season ala Tiger Woods.
Team SemGroup is in its third year. It consists of nine LPGA Tour professionals competing in a season-long points race. The Team SemGroup ladies compete for a first-place prize of $25,000 donated to their charity of choice.
Go ahead and write the check to Ochoa's charity. She is lapping the field. Here are the eight Team SemGroup ladies attempting to dethrone Ochoa and earn the scratch for their charities: Cristie Kerr, Morgan Pressel, Stacy Prammanasudh, Natalie Gulbis, Christina Kim, Helen Alfredsson, Carin Koch and Karin Sjodin.
A year ago TU grad and Tulsa favorite Stacy Prammanasudh entered the SemGroup Championship on fire. The media circus overwhelmed her. She turned in a below average performance in front of her friends and family.
She played very pedestrian golf to start this season. Only one top-10 finish in her first six events. Perhaps the slow start will secretly play into her favor this year. A little home cooking on her home turf sans the distractions.
Instead of questions surrounding her return home and possibilities of a breakthrough performance, she can quietly go through her ordinary preparations.
Championship Passes, valid for admission all week, are 50 bucks. Daily Grounds Tickets, valid any one day, are $20. Children under 18 are admitted free all week with a ticketed adult.
Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-877-583-9925 or by visiting www.semgroupchampionship.com
Now pass me an ice cold Bud Light or an Abita. My sports palate is just like my beer palate. Never turn down championship golf or a cold one.
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