Posted: July 7, 2015 10:43 pm
When the first group of LPGA players sat down for their press conferences with the media Tuesday, there was one common message across all of the interviews.
After answering questions about the course and changes in their game plan after the second practice day at the U.S. Women’s Open, all eight of the golfers — Cristie Kerr, Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, Morgan Pressel, Lydia Ko, Inbee Park, Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson — could not stop raving about the spectator turnout.
“But coming here, I think the biggest thing is the fans,” Creamer said when talking about the Lancaster Country Club course. “The people have just been so supportive this week. I registered on Sunday and I couldn’t believe how many people were out there on Sunday. Each day it’s just getting more and more.”
“It’s great to see that many people out here,” Thompson said in the following session. “I think during this week we’ll get the biggest crowds we’ve ever had. But it’s great to see just the whole community come out and support us, and everybody in town. That means so much to us that they come out to support us every day this week.”
Just walking the course, anyone can see the crowds are growing, and not just around defending champion Wie. While no official attendance numbers were released, organizers agreed Tuesday’s contingent was larger than that of the first day.
Fans have come from all over the county, the country and even the world to watch the tournament, but it was the younger generation in the majority on what was unofficially dubbed “Kids’ Day.”
Wednesday is Junior Day at the championship, where visitors ages 17 and under will have special access to the course.
“It’s pretty fun just walking around and getting the girls’ signatures and watching them just play on different holes,” said 10-year-old Bryce Thomas, of Lancaster, who plays golf at Meadia Heights. “I can kind of learn from what their doing because I can see what some mistakes I’m doing and learn from them.”
Ten-year-old Mia Michel of Scranton agreed.
“It’s fun,” she said with a laugh while showing off her new collection of autographs, including one from her favorite player, Stacy Lewis.
Michel, standing with her dad and watching the golfers practice, came to Lancaster with LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, an organization which tries to mentor young girls while growing the game of golf. The group will play a special role in the Junior Day festivities, with members getting to assist championship volunteers inside the typically roped off areas of the course.
Also part of the group was Quinn Crispell of Wilkes-Barre and her mom, Debbie.
“I got Lexi Thompson and and Ryann O’Toole,” said the 11-year-old, showing off her newly signed hat. “Maybe I’ll get Paula Creamer, we’ll see.”
Crispell did not have to wait long to find out, as Creamer, walking off the 18th green, handed her a freshly inked golf ball.
“I played at 6:45 in the morning, I got on the range at 6 and I was already signing 30 autographs,” Creamer said during the morning media session of her round Monday. “I’m like, ‘Whoa, did they sleep here?’
“It was pretty cool though,” she continued. “There’s a lot of kids out here, young girls wearing their golf clothes, so I know they’re excited to be out here and watch. But, quite truthfully, the fans, they’re incredible.”
Diana Pugliese is an LNP sports writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her at @dianapugs.