American golfing sisters Jessica and Nelly Korda returned to the UK last month to participate in the Women’s British Open at Royal Troon in Scotland. Due to Covid-19 it was played without a crowd in attendance and Jessica had to withdraw at the last minute because of a non-coronavirus health issue. Both returned to the US and joined the field in the second major of the year, the ANA Inspirational on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, where Nelly narrowly missed winning her maiden major, finishing second equal after a three-way play-off with the eventual winner, Miriam Lee from South Korea and Canada’s Brooke Henderson. It did however move Nelly up to No 2 in the world rankings.
The daughters of Czech tennis Grand Slam winner Petr Korda, Jessica (27) turned professional in 2011 with Nelly (22) joining her on the LPGA tour six years later. Jessica, who has finished in the top ten in all five majors, has won five LGPA tournaments and Nelly has collected three titles. Both were members of the 2019 US Solheim Cup team.
I sent this sketch to Jessica and Nelly at Royal Troon and was delighted to receive it, signed by both. During the pandemic very few items have been coming back so I was very surprised and especially pleased when the mailman delivered this last week.
Autographed drawing of golfer Annika Sorenstam
One of the greatest golfers in history is Annika Sorenstam. In a professional career spanning sixteen years from 1992-2008, the Swedish sensation and former World No.1 had 93 professional wins, the most of any player in the women’s game, including ten majors. She won the US Women’s Open, the PGA Championship and the ANA Inspiration (formerly the Kraft Nabisco Championship) three times and the British Open. She also tops the LPGA career prize money list. Annika competed for Europe in the Solheim Cup on eight occasions, winning six and won the World Cup, representing Sweden in 2006.
Annika’s list of Awards is a long one, most notably winning the Player of the Year eight times and the 2004 Laureus World Sports Awards Sportswoman of the Year. I sent this drawing to Annika at her Academy in Florida, where she kindly signed it for me.
Wildcard entry Suzann Pettersen sank an eight foot putt on the last hole to clinch the Solheim Cup-the women’s equivalent to the Ryder Cup-for Europe at Scotland’s Gleneagles course on Sunday. The 38 year-old Norwegian and double Major-winner then announced her retirement. “This is perfect closure. That’s it I’m done. This is a good end to a great career,” she said after the finest conclusion in the tournament’s 29 year history.
After taking a career break to start a family, Suzann’s ranking had dropped to 635th in the world. She was a controversial wildcard choice by Europe’s Captain Catrina Matthews and was unable to participate in the opening foursomes due to illness on Friday.
Europe were the underdogs, written off before the start of play against a very strong US team and with half an hour to go on Sunday afternoon it looked inevitable they would claim victory and retain the Cup. But Suzann’s pressure putt and last hole heroics against Marina Alex gave the hosts the one point win.
She signed my sketch at the Ladies Scottish Open hosted by the Renaissance Club last month.
English golfer Justin Rose returned to the World #1 ranking, defending his Turkish Airlines Open title after winning a playoff over Li Haotong on Sunday. Justin had briefly held the top spot in September this year as well as claiming the season-long FedEx Cup Playoffs and the $US10million prize. He was also runner-up at the Open Championship at Scotland’s Carnoustie Golf Links and was part of Europe’s Ryder Cup winning team in Paris a week later to round off a very successful month.
Justin won his maiden major – the US Open – at the Merioneth’s Golf Club in Pennsylvania in 2013 and has finished second twice at the Masters in 2015 and 2017 and was T3 at the 2012 PGA Championship. At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiroo he won the gold medal.
I sent this drawing to Justin while he was competing in the Scottish Open at the Gullane Golf Club in July this year, where he kindly signed and dedicated it for me.
Dusseldorf-born professional golfer Sandra Gal began playing the sport at the age of six and competed in her first competitive round at 14. The 6′ tall 33 year-old German turned professional in 2008 after a stellar amateur career and qualified for the LPGA tour on the first attempt. In 2011 she won the Kia Classic and was a member of the successful European Solheim Cup team that same year. Sandra resides in Florida and annually hosts the Sandra Gal Charity Challenge benefiting Volunteers of America. Away from golf she models, paints and plays the violin.
I sent this sketch to Sandra during the 2017 British Women’s Golf Open at the Kingsbarnes Links in Fife, Scotland, which she signed and dedicated for me.
British golfer Charley Hull is one of the rising stars on the women’s International golf scene. Introduced to the game at the age of two, the twenty-one year old turned professional in 2013, becoming the youngest player to compete in the Solheim Cup. She was part of the first European squad to win on US soil and was named Rookie of the Year She was also voted Best Newcomer by the Sports Journalists Association. In 2014 Charley became a champion on the European circuit before the age of 18 and was named the European Ladies Player of the Year. Last year she won the prestigious season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. Charley signed this sketch for me while competing at the Scottish Open at the Dundonald Links in Ayr in July.
Twenty-two year old American professional golfer Lexi Thompson is currently ranked Number 3 in the world. When she was 12 she was the youngest golfer ever to qualify for the US Women’s Open and in 2011 she become the youngest winner of an LPGA Tournament collecting the Navistar LPGA Classic title at sixteen years of age. Four years later Lexi won her first Major at the Nabisco Championships. She also finished in the top three at two other majors in 2015 with a second at the Evian and a third at the PGA. I sent this drawing to Lexi at this year’s British Women’s Open at the Kingsbarnes Golf Links in Fife, Scotland and it came back signed.
Champion golfer In Gee Chun, who is also known as Chun In-gee is South Korean, as are most of the planet’s champion women’s golfers. The 22 year-old, who turned professional in 2012, won the US Open at the Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania in 2015, coming from behind to post four birdies on the last seven holes to win by one stroke over fellow Korean Amy Yang. She was also tied for 2nd place at this year’s ANA Inspiration major tournament in Rancho Mirage, California. For a nice bit of symmetry, she is currently ranked number 8 in the world, with an eight place finish, scoring eight under par at the British Open in Milton Keynes a couple of weeks ago, where she signed this sketch.
Last time I posted a sketch of Korean-born New Zealand golf sensation Lydia Ko was in July 2014, which she signed for me during the Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale. At that time, it was her first year as a professional and she was already ranked number two, without winning a major title. She also wore her distinctive glasses.
Now Lydia is number one, a position she reached last February at the age of 17, becoming the youngest golfer, male or female to attain that distinction in the professional game. She has also won two majors, The Evian Championship in France with a record closing round of 63, which is the the lowest score in final round to win a major and this year’s ANA Inspiration at the Mission Hills Country Club in California. She nearly made it three in a row, being piped in a play-off by Brooke Henderson at the Women’s PGA in April.
Not surprisingly she is also the youngest player to win both a major and two majors.
Last week Lydia returned to the UK for the British Open at the Woburn Golf Club prior to representing NZ at the Rio Olympics and signed this updated drawing – minus her distinctive specs – for me.
Current world number three, eighteen year-old Brooke Henderson became the youngest player to win the Women’s PGA golf championship in June this year when she beat fellow teenage sensation and top-ranked Lydia Ko in a sudden death play-off at Washington’s Sahalee Country Club. The ‘Canadian phenom’ as her local newspaper describes her, was 18 years, 9 months and 2 days, which makes her the second-youngest ever to win one of the LPGA’s five major tournaments, behind Lydia, who won the Evian Championship last year aged 18 years, 4 months and 20 days.
She played the British Open last week at the Woburn Golf Club, just outside London, where she signed this drawing for me.