Indian professional golfer Sharmila Nicollet received a spot in the upcoming ShopRite LPGA Classic by winning a Twitter poll Monday conducted by the tournament.

It was believed to be the first time a professional sports organization used a social media platform to determine participation for an event.

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The idea was created by ShopRite Classic Executive Director Tim Erensen.

“We were thrilled to provide our fans an opportunity to help pick the final spot in our field,” Erensen said in a statement. “The international exposure generated by this fan vote was extremely valuable for our tournament and women’s golf.”

Nicollet received 30 percent of the 27,652 total votes cast in the weeklong poll. She finished 9 percentage points ahead of Golf Channel host Blair O’Neal. Scottish golfer Carly Booth was third with 25 percent, followed by Bolivia’s Susana Benavides with 6 percent.

The four golfers were selected from data compiled by MVPindex, which follows social media platforms of sports and entertainment figures.

“I would like to thank the sponsore ShopRite for conceiving the brilliant idea of having fans vote their choice,” Nicollet said in a statement. “In a small way, the poll has helped boost awareness of the game in India, where it is still a niche sport.”

Nicollet, 25, is one of only six Indian women to play on the Ladies European Tour (LET), where she has competed in 64 tournaments.

She turned professional in 2009, when she was 18 and at the time was the youngest Indian golfer to qualify for the LET. Nicollet is a 13-time winner on the Women Golf Association of India tour.

Her biography on the LET website states her hobbies as music, books, photography, fitness, fashion, gadgets and chess.

In addition to the Twitter poll, the tournament plans to hold a mini-qualifier consisting of nine or 10 players on Sunday, May 28 to determine another spot in the 144-player field.

Mays Landing native and former Oakcrest High School golfer Joanna Coe will play in that qualifier.

The 29th edition of the ShopRite Classic will be held June 2-4 on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway Township.

Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist is the two-time defending champion.

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Contact:

609-272-7201 DWeinberg@pressofac.com Twitter @PressACWeinberg

Member of The Press sports staff since 1986, starting my 25th season as The Press Eagles' beat writer. Also cover boxing, MMA, golf, high school sports and everything else.

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