Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg Receive Praise at Kingsmill Championship Media Day

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From left to right: Jay Colley, Matthew Schulze, Lizette Salas and Kathleen Ekey. (Ty Hodges, WYDaily)
From left to right: Jay Colley, Matthew Schulze, Lizette Salas and Kathleen Ekey. (Ty Hodges/WYDaily)

Two LPGA players praised the reputation of Kingsmill Resort and Williamsburg during Wednesday’s Kingsmill Championship media day.

Reigning Kingsmill Championship champion Lizette Salas was on hand to help ring in the 11th staging of the tournament that is expected to draw more than 60,000 spectators to Kingsmill Resort.

Kathleen Ekey, one of two players specially invited to the tournament through a sponsor’s exemption, joined Salas at the event.

The Kingsmill Championship, which will run May 12 through 18, has become one of the favorite destinations for LPGA Tour players, in part due to the appreciation and support they feel from the Williamsburg community and Kingsmill Resort staff.

“I love the way this golf course is set up,” Salas said. “I think Busch Gardens down the road helps here a lot. The fans are always so happy to see us. It’s just the little things. I hear this year they’re going to put different variations of golf balls on the range just to accommodate the players and to help prepare us. The layout of the golf course, it’s just so beautiful. There’s hardly any complaints about Virginia and the Kingsmill Resort.”

Ekey, who has seven top-10 finishes in LPGA Tour events, shared Salas’ sentiments.

“If you polled players on the LPGA, Kingsmill would be one of the favorite events,” she said. “Over the past few years, this has become one of my favorite spots to play in the LPGA. It’s a special place, an incredible course with terrific staff and fans.”

The reputation of the Kingsmill Championship has gone a long way to attract some of the LPGA Tour’s top players. This year’s tournament field includes eight of the top 10 LPGA Tour money leaders for 2015, including top earner Sei Young Kim.

The popularity of the tournament has spread beyond just the competitors.

Tournament Director Matthew Schulze said more than 1,300 people have volunteered to help work the event and more businesses than ever have volunteered to help make sure the tournament runs smoothly.

“The community is open arms with everything we do,” he said.

Based on preliminary ticket sales, Schulze guessed more than 60,000 spectators would attend the event, citing a spike in ticket sales this year compared to last year. Schulze attributed last year’s attendance of around 54,000 to poor weather conditions during the tournament, which runs over four days with a $1.3 million prize purse for competitors.

New to the tournament this year is a new Patriots’ Outpost that will be located by the 15th green. The Patriots’ Outpost will feature a hospitality area reserved for members of the military and their families, and will provide them with complimentary snacks and beverages while they watch the action unfold on the course.

The 18th green scoreboard features Salas' round-by-round scores from last year's championship. (Ty Hodges/WYDaily)
The 18th green scoreboard features Salas’ round-by-round scores from last year’s championship. (Ty Hodges/WYDaily)

The tournament will also feature expanded grandstands behind the 18th green, which sits just behind the Kingsmill Resort golf clubhouse. Schulze said in the future he would like to see the entire 18th green be surrounded by grandstands.

Schulze also announced more kid-friendly activities at the tournament Fun Zone, which is an area where families can bring their kids in between watching golf.

Joking that many kids do not like to watch golf, Schulze said local PGA professionals will be offering lessons and tips to children, allowing them to get hands-on with the game of golf at a young age.

The tournament is also placing extra emphasis on social media this year, encouraging attendees to tweet about what is different about the tournament from last year. The social media campaign is based on an LPGA Tour marketing campaign launched in 2011. The campaign centers around the phrase “See Why It’s Different Out Here,” and has served as a way for the league to promote its players.

For more information on the Kingsmill Championship, click here.