'Focus Should Be On Golf' - LPGA Stars Frustrated With Locker Room Saga

LPGA stars upset with "silly" locker room drama taking focus off Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona

Brooke Henderson at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions on the LPGA
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While the LPGA faces questions about the bizarre lack of lockers for their star players at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, several of those stars are upset that the furore has taken the headlines away from the actual golf on show.

In the LPGA curtain-raiser, a select field of tournament winners of the past two years play at Lake Nona alongside celebrities and athletes from other sports in a Pro-Am format.

However, in what should have been a glitzy and glamourous start to the new season, the headlines were bad ones as the players had no locker access for themselves at Lake Nona.

Temporary lockers did get brought in to use, but it turned the event into a bit of a farce, while also made the LPGA seem less than professional in the process.

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What’s angered some LPGA players though, is that the incident has taken the shine off the tournament itself, and ruined what should have been a big new season launch.

“I just think it’s a silly thing to talk about when we’re here at the first week of the year for the Tournament of Champions,” Marina Alex told GOLF.com.

“It’s a great event, different than anything we play in all year, and I just think we should be talking about the start of the 2023 season. The focus should be on the golf.”

World No.2 Nelly Korda also thought that the event is such a unique one on the circuit that something like a lack of lockers was something she wasn’t really bothered by.

“To me this event is so unique in the sense where that stuff doesn’t really bother me,” Korda said. “You’re out here competing with different celebrities, former athletes, current athletes.

“To me, this event is so special and different that something like that doesn’t bother me at this event. Obviously, if it would be at a regular LPGA event, it would bother me. At this event, I think there are so many different, unique, cool stories that I didn’t even think twice about it.”

Three-time LPGA winner Ally Ewing agreed with Korda’s stance and thought that the focus should have remained with the golf regardless of the locker room situation.

“It’s such a different week than any other week we have,” Ewing said. “There’s so much importance in the partnerships that we have with our sponsors and the LPGA.

“The last thing that I think a partner wants to see is something taking away from the event. I just want the focus to be in the right area and away from that.”

Paul Higham
Contributor

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.