Meijer LPGA Classic field: veterans, rookies

Sports
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PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The competitive field at the sixth annual Meijer LPGA Classic will include a former champion coming off a win last week and a West Michigan native in her first LPGA event.

Lexi Thompson won the Meijer LPGA Classic in 2015 and the ShopRite Classic just last week. She said she’s feeling confident coming off a win, but she’s still working on areas that need improvement and to stay consistent where she’s doing well.

“I just love Grand Rapids in general; a lot of great memories on this golf course, “Thompson told 24 Hour News 8 at Blythefield Country Club in Belmont Tuesday. “It’s always in good shape for us. It’s an amazing layout in general. And really the fan base in here, we get a lot of fans to come out and support us and just the community really supports us as well, but the tournament gives back.”

She was referring to the tournament’s $4.2 million in donations to Meijer’s Simply Give, which supports food pantries across the Midwest.

Thompson is first in the rankings for the Solheim Cup, a prestigious event that American golfers earn a spot in by the way they play throughout the season.

“The Solheim Cup means the world to me. Anytime I can represent my country, it’s the highest honor, my No. 1 goal to be on that team wearing my country’s colors,” she said.

On the other end of the spectrum, Gabrielle Shipley is just getting her LPGA career started.

She qualified for her first event Monday and it happened to be at the Classic, an event she knows well. A Hastings native and Grand Valley State University alumna, the last time she was at the Classic was as an intern helping set up for the event and running the merchandise booth.

“It’s very exciting,” she said of qualifying. “I think just come the first round, I’ve just got to stick to what I know that I can do and not try to do anything that I’m uncomfortable with or do anything that maybe I’ve never practiced before. So just kind of stick to my own routine and just keep doing what I’ve been doing my whole life and I think it’ll be a great weekend.”

Shipley hopes to stick with the LPGA tour and it’s a realistic dream. But she knows where she needs to improve:

“I’ve always been really good off the tee … I’m hitting greens fine (but) it’s just out here, you need to do more than just hit the greens. You have to be tighter to the hole and misses need to be better. … And just constantly making putts. You can putt well but if you’re not draining maybe a couple 20, 25-footers, it’ll show on the scorecard,” she said. “So I think just continuing to work on my putting and my approaches into the green.”

Tournament play begins Thursday. 24 Hour News 8 will be keeping an eye on Thompson and Shipley as the competition progresses.

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