GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — As Jaye Marie Green stepped up to the tee on the 10th hole Saturday during the second round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic, she reached out her hand and handed her golf ball to 8-year-old Jolie Pastorick.
The gesture showed why Anna Matos has brought Jolie and 6-year-old Ella to the event the past two years.
“The players are so nice, they take the time to acknowledge the kids that are out supporting them,” said Matos, 42, of suburban Philadelphia. “The access to the player, the crowd, it’s all perfect.”
Fans came out in droves Saturday to watch the best female players in the world battle the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club. More than 65,000 people are expected to attend the event, tournament officials said.
Jolie is no stranger to the Donald Ross-designed Bay Course. Last year during a junior event at the facility, she birdied the 10th hole. She hoped to watch Michelle Wie at some point during her round.
“It’s great that I can see my favorite players,” Jolie said as she showed off the ball and her flag that had been signed by more than 20 players at the event.
Wie was featured in the marquee group of the day with two-time defending champion Anna Nordqvist and Charley Hull. The group drew Saturday’s largest crowds.
Niina Laitinen, her 10-year-old daughter, Maya, and her mother, Reija, scurried to get in position to the watch the group play their second shots into the fourth green.
“It’s a lot of fun to have all of us here,” said Niina Laitinen, 41, of Philadelphia. “Maya just started taking lessons, and it’s great for her to be able to see the best players in the world.”
When I told a friend I was playing in the ShopRite LPGA Classic Pro-Am, he chuckled and warn…
For Frank Culmoney, 64, of Long Island, New York, the Classic offered him the chance to take his grandchildren to an event without having to deal with the expense and the crowds of a PGA tournament.
“For them, it’s perfect,” Culmoney said as he watched the play at the second hole. “The kids can get up close and see what the players are doing.”
Mariel Mercado, Culmoney’s 9-year-old granddaughter, said she was enjoying the event despite the fact that her favorite player, Lexi Thompson, was not playing.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Mariel said.
The event was the perfect way for Shelley Machamer to celebrate her 56th birthday. Machamer got the tickets from her son for Mother’s Day.
“I think that I might have to do this every year for my birthday,” Machamer joked as she watched players play their second shots into the fifth hole. “It’s amazing to see what these players can do. They seem to hit every shot perfect.”