golf

Tracy Kerdyk, vice-president for new business of the Duramed Futures Tour, spoke at a press conference Wednesday.

What do Lorena Ochoa, Karrie Webb and Cristie Kerr all have in common?

Not only are they three of the top ladies’ golfers in the world today, but all three, at one time or another, played on the Duramed Futures Tour.

And come August, that same tour will make a stop in Laurel County when Crooked Creek hosts the inaugural Commonwealth Crooked Creek Classic, which will run Aug. 8 to 10.

“This is an exciting day for the tour,” said Tracy Kerdyk, vice-president of new business development for the Duramed Futures Tour at a press conference Wednesday at Crooked Creek.

“This is a beautiful facility, and the course will be very challenging for our players. I expect to see some interesting and great golf, and we are proud to be a part of this plan, proud to bring women’s golf back to Kentucky.”

The last time a Duramed event was played in the state was in 1991.

“We hope this will be a marquee event year after year,” Kerdyk added. “With this event and the Ryder Cup next year (to be held in Louisville), golf is hot in the state of Kentucky.”

The tournament will feature 144 of the best women professional golfers in the world, who will compete for the $100,000 tournament purse. The Duramed Futures Tour is now in its 27th year, and is a stepping stone for golfers to earn the LPGA tour card. The top five players on the money list at the end of each season automatically move onto the LPGA Tour as exempt members. The next 10 receive automatic entry into the LPGA’s qualifying tournament. This event will be the fourth-to- last on the Duramed Futures Tour schedule.

The week of the tournament will feature several different activities, including a pair of Pro-Ams. The professional tournament will begin on Friday morning, and there will be a 36-hole cut to the low 70 players. The final round will be on Sunday.

“This is tremendous, that we get to bring women’s golf back to Kentucky,” said Myra Blackwelder, who was the Rookie of the Year in 1980 and played 13 years on the LPGA tour. She is currently the women’s golf coach at the University of Kentucky. “This will be a great event, not only for this community, but also for the entire state. Everyone in Laurel County can be proud of this event, to get a chance to see the next generation of LPGA tour stars.”

The event, which is expected to bring around $500,000 to Laurel County, was made possible by the recent renovations to Crooked Creek, thanks to new owner Mike Nami. State Senator Tom Jensen acknowledged Nami’s vision.

“We need to applaud (Mike) Nami for his vision to bring events like this to Laurel County,” he said. “This will be a showcase for us, and it’s off to an outstanding start. The idea that he had to bring events like this to Laurel County and this part of the state should make us proud.”

“It takes all of our efforts to pull off this event,” Nami said. “I love southeastern Kentucky and want to showcase this area.”

This event will also present a chance for former Kentucky golfers Mandy Goins, Whitney Wade, Marci Turner and Brittany Klein to return to their home state to participate. All four have earned playing privileges on the Duramed Futures Tour.

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