For the first time since 2017, there’s a match play event on the LPGA Tour schedule. And it happens to be the Bank of Hope Match Play hosted by Shadow Creek, right here in #VegasGolf. It’s the first time the LPGA Tour has played in Las Vegas since the 2006 Takefuji Classic at the Las Vegas Country Club. And keeping a close eye on the happenings was Pat Hurst, the captain of the United States Solheim Cup team. –By Brian Hurlburt, Las Vegas Golf Insider.
There’s a lot of time left between now and Sept. 24-26 when the Americans and Europeans will battle for the Cup for at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, so it was a bit premature for Hurst to have a set mission in Las Vegas. But Hurst was front and center, and decked out in full Solheim Cup gear on Wednesday at the MGM Resorts International/s Shadow Creek, meeting, greeting and supporting her potential team members.
“I’m not trying to accomplish anything this week; I’m just here to give support,” Hurst said while sitting in a cart adjacent the 18th green. “I’ve shown up as many times as I can to different tournaments, and this is one of them. So, like I said, we’ve got a lot of golf left until we do our picks. So, I’m just giving a little bit of support.”
There are several players in the Vegas Bank of Hope who should be on the team later this year, including unofficial Vegas event hostess and resident Danielle Kang. She had to impress her future captain–Kang is second in U.S. Solheim Cup points–as she trounced Abilene Valenzuela 7&6 in round one. And then on the second day defeated Madelene Sagstrom 2 & 1. Among the other players in Vegas who could play for Team USA were Austin Ernst, Angela Stanford and Ally Ewing.
Hurst was happy to see the match play format return to the LPGA Tour, especially during a Solheim Cup year. And she also thought Shadow Creek was a solid match play test.
“It’s going to help all the ones that are playing just because we don’t get to play that much match play,” said Hurst. “We play a little bit as amateurs and now they’re doing obviously college golf, but you know, you don’t get to play that that much. And so anytime we can get an extra round or two in playing match play stuff, that’s going to help.
“I played the course on Monday in the Pro-Am, and I think it’s a good match play golf course. There’s a lot of risk/reward out here, which makes match play a lot of fun where you can take some risks. But then there’s other times where you have to come back a little bit and not be as an aggressive player like I am, and kind of take what it is giving you and what the match calls for.”
Hurst will take her personal traits with her as a captain, but understands that each player is different. She will also make sure everyone enjoys the experience.
“I’m definitely aggressive on the golf course, but I don’t know if they would want me to come help them out there on what kind of shot to pick, because I’d say, ‘go for it,’ you know? But, I’m pretty laid back and I think that the team room is going to be that way where it’s pretty laid back. I mean, when I want something done, I get it done and I expect the same from them. I’m just a straight shooter and that’s just the way it’s going to be. I do know that Team USA is going to have a lot of fun and that’s the main thing: to make memories out here and to bond for the rest of our lives.”
And spending some in Las Vegas and Shadow Creek only will add to the list of memories of those who will play and represent country in a few months.