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LPGA Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor builds off first-year success

LPGA Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor builds off first-year success


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ANN ARBOR - About 30,000 spectators attended the inaugural 2016 LPGA Volvik Championship at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, according to tournament director Keith Karbo.

Early reports indicate this year's attendance at the Volvik Championship, which ran Thursday through Sunday, eclipsed last year's mark, Karbo said.

Rain on Thursday led to a smaller crowd, but the weather was cooperative the next three days, including Sunday, when the final tee times were moved up to beat thunderstorms that began around 4:30 p.m.

"We had great attendance on Friday, Saturday and today," Karbo said following Sunday's final round. "Right now the estimate is we are over last year's mark. That is based on the parking lot being filled every day with 8,000 cars, and concessions did really well. Those are two barometers without looking at exact ticket numbers."

New tournament additions, including more grandstands on holes nine and 18, and Tito's Terrace, which offers a unique hospitality experience during the tournament, were a success, Karbo said.

"Every day, the grandstand on nine was packed," he said. "Tito's Terrace did a great job. There also was bag toss up there and great vantage points. It was in the right location. I think we will expand on that again next year based on feedback we have already received."

Livonia's Royce Payne, who attended Sunday with his daughter, praised the accessibility to the players.

"It is great to come out with the family and hang out and see some of the stars," Payne said. "They (the players) have been really easy-going. We didn't get out here last year, but we will start coming regularly in the future. It has been a fun day here."

Jim VanBoven, who has attended several professional golf tournaments, said he continues to be impressed by the skill level of the players.

Karbo said there were many positives to take away from the tournament, which Shanshan Feng won by finishing 19-under-par.

"I think it went really well," he said. "We had great crowds the whole week, despite the weather. There was fantastic sponsor support, we had 550 local volunteers and a wonderful champion. We couldn't ask for a better week other than a little more sun at the beginning of the week."

More data from this year's event will be available in the next few days, Karbo said, and tournament officials will begin planning for next year's Volvik Championship on Tuesday. Next year will be the final year of the three-year contract for the event at Travis Pointe.

"We'll see how things go," Karbo said. "We are in discussions right now to hopefully continue the tournament here. It's a great venue and a great city. I think all parties involved want it to continue.

"Last year we were selling the invisible. Now, no matter where you go -- one of our volunteers was at Starbucks, and the lady working said she couldn't believe how many people were coming in wearing Volvik merchandise."