MT. PLEASANT, S.C. -- 17-year-old Michelle Wie has received a sponsor's exemption to play in the Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA at RiverTowne Country Club May 31-June 3. The inaugural LPGA tournament will be Wie's first since injuring her wrist during a fall in February. Pending final clearance from her doctors to play, the inaugural LPGA tournament is projected to be Wie's first competitive appearance since injuring her wrist during a fall in February.
Last year, Wie earned six top-5s in eight LPGA events, including all four majors, the only exception being a tie for 26th in the Weetabix Women's British Open and a 17th in the Samsung World Championship. Her $730,929 in earnings would have placed her at No. 15 on the season-ending ADT Official Money List.
"I am very pleased to see that the first Ginn Tribute has been so well received amongst my fellow competitors, and I am grateful to them for their participation," Annika said. "This level of interest is just what we envisioned when we laid the groundwork for this tournament. A world class field, great venue and unbelievable purse will lead to a very exciting event at RiverTowne Country Club. It's tough being out right now, but I hope that my rehab will allow me to compete in Charleston, being that I'm the host. I look forward to a great week."
Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA Tournament Director Kevin Krisle said, "Michelle is an incredible talent, and we're excited to add her to an already deep field. The Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA is sure to be a special event as Annika honors the game's past. Nothing could be more appropriate than showcasing its future stars."
The LPGA players of today are turning out in hordes to honor Annika by committing early to her event. In addition to Annika playing, the top 10, and 22 of the top 25, players on the ADT Official Money List have already stated their intention to play with Sorenstam in the Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA the Arnold Palmer-designed RiverTowne Country Club course. The $2.6 million purse ties the Ginn Open as the third largest on the 2007 LPGA schedule.
Among the LPGA's world class contingent that will be vying for the $390,000 winner's check at the Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA are reigning Player of the Year, LPGA money list and Vare Trophy winner Lorena Ochoa, LPGA Tour Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, ever-popular fan favorites Paula
Creamer and Natalie Gulbis, as well as 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship winner Morgan Pressel, 2006 ADT Championship ($1 million) winner Julieta Granada and 2006 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Seon-Hwa Lee.
All six winners on the 2007 LPGA have also entered early - Creamer (SBS Open), Stacy Prammanasudh (Fields Open in Hawaii), Meaghan Francella (MasterCard Classic Honoring Alejo Peralta Presented by Televisa Deportes), Ochoa (Safeway International Presented by Coca Cola), Pressel (Kraft Nabisco Championship) and Brittany Lincicome (Ginn Open).
In addition to the LPGA player commitments, the tournament has also extended a sponsor's exemption to teenage prodigy MacKinzie Kline, of Encinitas, Calif. (near San Diego). Kline, 15, is one of the top junior golfers in the country while coping with a congenital heart defect. At the age of 10, Kline became the National Spokesperson for the Children's Heart Foundation.
"This is a dream come true for me," said Kline of her first LPGA appearance. "I've always had the dream to play on the LPGA Tour and Annika has made this a reality for me. Words cannot express my appreciation for this honor."
The Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA will be televised nationally: Thursday, May 3, Golf Channel, 6:30-8:30p.m. EST; Friday, June 1, Golf Channel, 8:30-10:30p.m. EST; Saturday, June 2, NBC, 4:00-6:00p.m. EST; and Sunday, June 3, NBC, 4:00-6:00p.m. EST.
Advanced ticket sales are available now and it provides the best value to what is one of the richest events and best fields on the LPGA. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the official Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA website at www.ginntribute.com, or by calling the official Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA ticket outlet at 888-695-0888. Tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. For tournament information, please visit the website or contact the tournament office at 843-849-2380.
There are a plethora of ticket plans for the 2007 Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA. The best value may be the Fan Pack (two weekly badges and a $25 merchandise tent voucher) for $135. The Palmer Pavilion ($110) offers a weekly badge and access to the Palmer Pavilion, a luxury suite-like experience which features TV's and a spirited atmosphere with food and beverages available for purchase. Tickets are limited and will sell out quickly.
Corporate packages include the Palmetto Package ($350), a $500 value that includes five weekly and 10 daily tickets; the Lowcountry Package ($700/a $1,000 value), which includes 10 weekly and 20 daily tickets; and the Tribute Package ($1,400/a $2,000 value), which provides 20 weekly and 40 daily tickets. Packages purchased before April 30 include a sponsor listing in the program.
Single-day tickets can be purchased for any day. They are $10 per day for Monday and Tuesday practice rounds and $10 for Wednesday's pro-am if purchased in advance ($20 at the gate). Daily Thursday through Sunday tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at the gate, and weekly passes - always the best value - are $60 in advance and $80 at the gate.
Seniors and all military, fire and police personnel with ID will receive a 50 percent discount and kids 15 and under with a paid adult get in free all days.
The Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA is accepting volunteer applications. Become a part of the team and the greater Charleston area's support of the LPGA's return to South Carolina. For more volunteer information, visit www.ginntribute.com.
The RiverTowne Country Club was named the 2004 South Carolina Course of the Year by the South Carolina Golf Course Owners Association. The 18-hole, par 72 layout measures 6,679 yards from the medal tees.
Ginn Resorts commissioned golf legend Arnold Palmer to develop Charleston's first Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course. The course includes 13 holes that wind along the Wando River and Horlbeck Creek. The five sets of tees on this 7,200-yard venue provide spectacular challenges that are meant to deliver a memorable golfing experience to every player of the game. RiverTowne Country Club received a 4.5-star rating in Golf Digest's Places to Play in 2005.
About Ginn Resorts
Ginn Resorts is a privately-held resort development and management firm specializing exclusive leisure lifestyle and vacation destination communities. The firm owns and operates communities across the United States and the Caribbean. Headquartered in Celebration, Fla., the firm's principals have more than three decades of experience in creating large-scale, master-planned resorts and recreation-oriented communities. For more information, visit www.ginnresorts.com.
About Ginn Sports Entertainment, LLC
Ginn Sports Entertainment, LLC (GSE) was created in 2006 by Bobby Ginn, president and Chief Executive Officer of Ginn Resorts, and directed by GSE president and Chief Operating Officer Kent Atherton. GSE is dedicated to the organization, production and marketing of Ginn Resorts professional sports properties in golf and auto racing. Currently, GSE serves as the event organizer and title sponsor to two tournaments on the LPGA Tour (the Ginn Open at Ginn Reunion Resort near Orlando, FL and the Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika at the RiverTowne Country Club course at Ginn Belvidere Resort on Charleston Harbor in SC) and one tournament on the Champions Tour (the Ginn Championship at Hammock Beach at Ocean Hammock Golf Club in Palm Coast, FL). Additionally, GSE hosts the Champions Tour's ACE Group Classic at Quail West, a Ginn Resorts private community in Naples, FL, and has sponsor endorsements with professional golfers Annika Sorenstam, Cristie Kerr, May Wood, Lucas Glover, Lee Janzen and Brian Gay. GSE also manages sponsorship marketing and hospitality on behalf of Ginn Racing, Bobby Ginn's NASCAR team, which next year includes Nextel Cup drivers Mark Martin (01), Joe Nemechek (13), Sterling Marlin (14) and Regan Smith who will also drive the Ginn Busch Series car, along with Kraig Kinser, who competes in the Craftsman Truck Series and Late Model/ARCA drivers Rick Carmichael and Jesus Hernandez. For more updates and information on Ginn Sports Entertainment, visit www.ginnsportsentertainment.com.
About IMG and IMG Media
IMG is the world's premier Sports, Entertainment and Media Company. IMG is a diversified global business with two major business segments: IMG Sports & Entertainment, and IMG Media. IMG employs over 2,300 people in 30 countries. Forstmann Little & Co. purchased IMG in 2004. More information about IMG is available at www.imgworld.com and www.darlowsmithson.com.
Ryan Julison, Ginn Resorts, 321-939-4705