LPGA golfers are descending on Northeastern Wisconsin this week for the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, and tournament officials expect 50,000-70,000 spectators throughout the tournament, which runs July 3-9.
Professional practice began Monday for the field of 144 golfers, and with little wind and clear skies, it was a perfect day for golf. The early consensus on the Thornberry course among golfers was a positive one.
"It's in great shape," said Amy Olson, who's been on the LPGA Tour since 2014. "It's a new course, so we're all kind of just learning it for the first time. It seemed fairly wide open over the tee, but (there are) some long holes that will definitely provide a challenge."
And these golfers welcome that challenge.
"The course is one that you definitely have to think around," said Megan Khang, who is in her second LPGA season. "I think you're going to be doing a lot of thinking out there, and you're going to start to see more players try to play more placement gold rather than just always aggressive golf."
Both Olson and Khang agreed the 17th hole is the most difficult, and they stressed the importance of staying on the fairways to succeed on this course.
"I think the key part of someone's game that's going to win this tournament is definitely staying in the fairway and just coming in hot with those wedges and short irons," Khang said. "If you can capitalize on those this week, then you'll definitely have a good chance to finish up top."
Also headlining the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic field are Ariya Jutanugarn, the world No. 2 golfer; Paula Creamer, the 2010 U.S. Women's Open champ; 19-time LPGA champ Cristie Kerr; and Brooke Henderson, a rising star who just finished second at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. Twelve of the golfers in the field have major championships on their resumes.
Wisconsin sports fans will find a face to cheer for in Osceola native Casey Danielson. The recent Stanford grad is making her pro debut at Thornberry Creek after receiving a sponsor invitation to the event.
The tourney offers a $2 million purse, and a $300,000 for the first-place finisher.
Practice rounds continue through Wednesday, and the 72-hole tourney tees off Thursday. Pairings will be announced Tuesday.