We can’t say for sure, but our guess is that never in the long history of the LPGA Tour has a champion been driven via Rolls Royce to a victory celebration featuring a fountain show. Until, that is, the LPGA Tour held the Bank of Hope Match Play hosted by Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, the sports and entertainment capital of the world. –By Brian Hurlburt, Las Vegas Golf Insider.
Ally Ewing earned every minute of her Rolls Royce excursion via a hard-fought and grueling week of match play golf at one of the world’s best courses, the Tom Fazio-designed Shadow Creek, which is owned and operated by MGM Resorts International. Ewing defeated Sophia Popov 2&1 in the final, and then gave a big hug to husband, Charlie, on the 17th green. The hug not only celebrated her second LPGA Tour victory, but also their first wedding anniversary.
It was scripted pretty much as only Vegas can, and after the obligatory photos and trophy presentation, then a media session, Ally and Charlie jumped in the Rolls and transformed into ultimate Vegas VIPs for the evening. On Monday, they were flown via a private jet arranged by MGM Resorts to San Francisco, site of the U.S. Women’s Open.
Life. Was. Good.
Check out our championship recap and relive all the excitement 💚 pic.twitter.com/QB8VRkcd7o
— Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play (@LPGAMatchPlay) June 1, 2021
And not just good for Ally and Charlie, but each of the players throughout the entire inaugural event, which is scheduled to return in 2022.
“From start to finish, (it has been) world class treatment by MGM Resorts,” said Ewing. “They’ve run the golf tournament really, really well, and I think they’ve set a pretty high standard for just the special treatment that we have gotten this week. It is definitely a unique event, and I think players are going to be super excited to come back with how we’ve been treated.”
Players were given gifts nearly every day, including Vegas Golden Knights hockey jerseys with their names on the back upon their arrival. Basically they were wined and dined during while in Vegas.
Even following the loss in the final, Popov still looked back in awe of the week and Vegas experience.
“Obviously Shadow Creek is an incredible place,” said Popov. “I watched the guys play here in the last year and it’s amazing. You don’t really feel like you’re in Vegas. You don’t have a desert-y feel. It’s very green. Just really cool golf holes, and I think it suits match play exceptionally well because you just never know. Like, anything can happen at any point just because the greens are so firm. You need to hit the right spots on the greens. Need to miss the greens on the right sides. So I just think it makes it very, very interesting, especially for match play.”
Unofficial tournament hostess, Vegas resident and MGM Resorts-sponsored player Danielle Kang could still find the silver-lining in her quarterfinal loss to the eventual champ.
“At the end of the day, it’s the way MGM Resorts treated everyone,” said Kang. “They’re big partners of mine and we have been all talking about how they really wanted to host a women’s event out here. Shadow Creek is one the best golf courses (anywhere) by far, in my opinion. It’s a major championship golf course, and they treated us like a major, the way it should be. The way they hosted us, the
way they invited us and made the stage for us, I’m so thankful, and I can’t wait to be back next year.
“I really, really wanted to win this event. I guess my time has come to an end this time. But, all in all, I had all the MGM crew come out and support me every day, so I’m really thankful. It’s Vegas and I hope
the girls really liked Shadow Creek.”
Indeed they did, just as the PGA Tour players did during the CJ Cup, which was played on the layout in October 2020. MGM Resorts-sponsored golfer Jason Kokrak won that event, but the similarities in ultra positive comments about Shadow Creek were pretty much unanimous by both the men and women.
As Popov and Ewing battled down the stretch, the match became must see Golf Channel viewing and for the fortunate few able to attend the event live. Some huge moments highlighted a back nine of intriguing–if not exceptional–golf.
Popov cut the lead to 1 up thru 12 and then appeared to be moments from getting the match back to even when she stuck her tee shot on the par 3, 12th hole, to within a few feet of the hole. However, Ewing matched the shot nearly identically, and both walked off the hole with birdies. It was probably the moment of the match.
Popov then lost the next hole when Ewing made a 62-foot birdie putt from the off the green. Popov then appeared to be in more trouble on the par 4, 15th, when she hit her tee shot in the water.
Ewing was in command in the middle of the fairway, but hit a bad approach shot nearly in the hazard, and the two ended up halving that hole with bogeys. They then both bogeyed the par 5, 16th hole before heading to the treacherous par 3, 17th hole with Ewing still 2-up.
When both made double bogey, Ewing earned the title. Minutes later, the Rolls Royce chauffeur started warming up the victory ride. And following the fountain show, a dinner at Prime at Bellagio also awaited.
That’s Vegas. And that’s the LPGA Tour, Vegas style.
MGM Resorts Golf Note:
It was a big weekend for MGM Resorts golf. Jason Kokrak won the Charles Schwab Challenge on the PGA Tour and Alex Cejka won his second major, the senior PGA, on the PGA Tour Champions. Both are MGM Resorts partners.