The hype leading up to the inaugural Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, which kicks off the LPGA 2019 season Jan. 17-20 at Tranquilo Golf Course at Orlando’s Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club, has been relentless, fun and justified. There’s nothing else like it in golf.
Actually, it’s actually two events in one, featuring 26 LPGA champions from 2017-18 playing for $1.2 million over 72 holes of stroke play while, at the same time and in the same groups, 49 sports and entertainment celebrities compete for $500,000 in a Modified Stableford format. Sure, it’s serious business with so much cash and prestige on the line, but it’s also a recipe for all-out fun under the Florida sun.
But how does the event figure into the larger golf landscape in terms of what quality of play the golfing public can expect to see either in person or over four days of coverage on the Golf Channel and NBC, especially with all the new Rules of Golf changes? And how will the celebs stack up against the world’s best women players at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions? What kind of synergy will result, and will we learn anything new? What tips will the celebs pick up just watching the gals tee it up in competition?
Golf Tips editor Vic Williams joined several other journalists to asked those and other questions over two recent phone interviews with two LPGA champions, Marina Alex and Brittany Lincicome, and three of the celebrity tour’s most recognized names — former Atlanta Braves ace and Fox Sports baseball analyst John Smoltz, 1992 Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien and former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer.