LPGA stars expect tough conditions for Swinging Skirts Classic

DALY CITY — For the first time since 2010, the LPGA Tour is making a stop in the Bay Area.

The Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic opens today in Daly City at the Lake Merced Golf Club as the LPGA has partnered with Taiwan-based Swinging Skirts Golf Team, bringing over the Swinging Skirts to American soil for the first time. The winner of the event will receive a hefty $270,000 check.

“The strength of our field demonstrates that the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic has already taken foothold as one of the most important events on the LPGA,” Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic Executive Director Kevin Hopkins said. “We hope the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic will become one of the most favored tour stops among the LPGA’s stars.”

The world’s top golfers — including No. 1 ranked Inbee Park, Hall of Famer and Bay Area native Juli Inkster, American Stacy Lewis, Norwegian star Suzann Pettersen, the popular Michelle Wie and Pleasanton native Paula Creamer — will tee it up today through Sunday.

Players expect the conditions at Lake Merced to be as tough as a U.S. Open, and many have mentioned that missing the fairways this weekend will be difficult to overcome.

“It’s an old, traditional, tree-lined course,” Pettersen said. “It’s narrow, the rough is up, really firm greens. If you really miss the fairways, you’re going to have a hard time holding the balls on the greens.”

Creamer, who mentioned she last played at the Lake Merced course when she was 11 years old, will have a difficult task off the course with ticket requests.

“Yeah, I feel bad for the tournament office,” Creamer joked. “My dad has been in there the last couple days 10 times dealing with tickets and this and that. But it is great. I’ve definitely taken my past experiences being home. I just feel really good when I walked out here. Having my family being able to come out and support me, it’s just pretty cool to be able to come home and have that. Not a lot of people can do that, can have that experience.”

In her final season on the LPGA Tour, Inkster is pleased to see major professional golf back in the Bay Area. With 32 tour events this season (23 last year), and a big purse for this tournament, Inkster recognizes the LPGA’s growth and hopes it continues even more here in the Bay Area.

“I’m very happy that Lake Merced has decided to host this thing,” Inkster said.

“Everybody has asked me all year, ‘What is Lake Merced like?’ It’s not a country club. It’s a golf course. It’s going to be all you can bring. And I haven’t heard one bad thing about it. Everybody has been very happy about the way it’s set up and how hard it’s playing.”

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