Michelle Piyapattra Wins 1st Women's Canadian Tour Event of 2015

The Canadian Women's Tour just wrapped up its first tournament of 2015, and the winner is Michelle Piyapattra. The tournament took place in Calgary at Glencoe Golf and Country Club, and was 36 holes in length.

Piyapattra shot rounds of 71 and 69, finishing at 140 and three shots ahead of runner-up Seul-Ki Park. It's a valuable victory for Michelle and not just for the winner's check: it also gets her into the LPGA's Canadian Pacific Women's Open later this year.

It's the second career win for Michelle in Canada; last year she won while still an amateur.

And you might recall something else Michelle won in 2015: Inclusion in Golf.com's Most Beautiful Women in Golf feature.

See our earlier post about Michelle for more on her background.

5 of RantSports.com's '25 Female Athletes You'd Like to Date' are Golfers

The website RantSports.com published an article, or listicle, last year titled 25 Female Athletes You Wish You Could Take on a Date. And how many of those athletes are golfers?

Five of them. That's a whopping 20-percent of RantSports.com's list. Yay golf!

So we're a little behind in noticing this article, but here at Golf Babes we were way ahead in noticing these five golfers. Here are the five, listed in alphabetical order:

Meghan Hardin

Instagram - Twitter

Sharmila Nicollet

Brooke Pancake

(Brooke is not the least bit date-able - she's married! But the article does specify wishing you could date these athletes.)

Instagram - Twitter

Michelle Wie

Instagram - Twitter

Cheyenne Woods

Instagram - Twitter

Nicole Castrale Helping 'Swing Away' Movie Get the Golf Right

We told you yesterday a little bit about the movie Swing Away that is currently in production, including shooting golf scenes this week at the site of the ShopRite LPGA Classic tournament. What we left out of that first post is that LPGA Tour winner and 2-time Solheim Cupper Nicole Castrale is involved in the movie's production, too.

For a movie that tells the story of a Greek-American LPGA golfer, Nicole is the perfect choice to serve as "consultant," because Nicole, after all, is a Greek-American LPGA golfer!

In her role as consultant on the movie, what is Castrale actually doing? These photos, which she shared on Instagram, show us:

Busy on the set of #swingaway Thanks @sirdommypants for the photos #Greece #Rhodes

A photo posted by Nicole Castrale (@nicolecastrale) on

That is, I believe, young actor Viktoria Miller getting help with her golf setup from Castrale, who is there to make sure the golf scenes look like, well, good golf. On Twitter the movie's director, Michael Nickles, told me, "She's an essential part of it. Feel lucky to have her here."

Of course, Nicole's time spent at the production locations hasn't been all work. Here, on the island of Rhodes, Nicole and the movie's star, Shannon Elizabeth, take a plunge into the cold waters off St. George Beach:

One more image from Twitter:

Emma Talley Wins NCAA Championship

Emma Talley of the University of Alabama is the 2015 individual champion at the NCAA Women's Championship tournament. It's not the first huge trophy she's won. Here's a photo of her holding the U.S. Women's Amateur trophy she claimed in 2013:

Talley, a Kentucky native, shot 69 in the final round, finishing at 3-under 285 (only three golfers finished under par). That was one shot better than the runners-up, Gaby Lopez of Arkansas and Leona Maguire of Duke.

At the 2013 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship, Talley beat Cindy Feng in the championship match by a 2-and-1 score.

Emma was a member of the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team in 2008 and the Curtis Cup team in 2014. Talley was undefeated (3-0-1) last year in the Curtis Cup.

Also in 2014, Emma played in four of the five LPGA majors (all but the Evian), making the cut in two of them. She tied for 17th place in the Women's British Open. She previously made the cut in the 2012 U.S. Women's Open.

Emma is 21 years old and wrapping up her junior year at the University of Alabama. Her first college win came at the 2013 PING/ASU Invitational, and she recorded eight Top 10 finishes in her first two seasons. In the 2014-15 season, she added four more Top 10s.

With her victory in the 2015 nationals, Emma becomes just the fifth woman to win both a U.S. Amateur and an NCAA championship.

Shannon Elizabeth Star of New Golf Movie, 'Swing Away'

There's a new golf movie called Swing Away currently filming in Greece, one the LPGA Tour itself has taken a role in supporting and promoting. And the star of it is Shannon Elizabeth. Shannon is probably best-known for the American Pie movies (personally, we loved her as the baby mama of That 70s Show idiot Kelso).

How good of a golfer is Shannon? We know from her social media accounts that she's been working very hard on her game, although we haven't seen any of her swings in a couple months. Back in March she shared this short video clip:

Swing away.....

A video posted by SHANNON ELIZABETH - OFFICIAL (@shannonelizabeth) on

We love that look of delight on Shannon's face after her instructor compliments the progress she is making. That look is one we all know well, at least all golfers who've ever tried to master a new shot or get better at a part of the game - and finally did what they were trying to do.

In that clip, Shannon doesn't look like a low-handicapper, but given how hard she's been working for the movie (not just on her golf swing, but also learning to speak some Greek), we bet she's much-improved by now.

Regardless, the Swing Away movie definitely is not Elizabeth's introduction to golf. The photo at the top of the page was taken at a golf event back in 2005. The following image shows Shannon playing in the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation's Fifth Annual All-American Golf Classic To Benefit The Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation that same year:

So what about this movie, Swing Away? A press release posted on LPGA.com call the movie a "sports comedy with heart and romance" and "an engaging, heartwarmingly inspirational coming-of-age movie." The release says:

Swing Away tells the story of Zoe Papadopoulos, (played by Shannon Elizabeth, from American Pie fame) an LPGA golfer who retreats to her homeland in order to escape the media spotlight following an incident of bad behavior during a tournament event, one that results in her temporary suspension from the tour. She reconnects with her Greek roots and discovers a much larger story involving the townspeople, whose unfailing optimism and resilient spirit inspire her to find greatness in the face of insurmountable odds.

Another in the cast is John O'Hurley, along with Greek actors Manos Gavras, Renos Haralambidis, Alexandros Mylonas, Olga Damani, and Christos Sougaris. Plus "young actress Viktoria Miller stars as Stella - a promising young golf prodigy whose game Zoe helps develop, and vice versa."

The movie's golf scenes will be shot during this year's ShopRite LPGA Classic, taking place this week.

If you want to keep up to date with the progress of Swing Away, follow @swingawaymovie; you can also follow Shannon at @ShannonElizab.

Related:

Anna Rawson Gets Her MBA

Congratulations to former LPGA Tour golfer Anna Rawson: As of this past Sunday, she is the holder of a Masters degree in Business Administration from a very prestigious school:

Anna is some kind of modern Renaissance woman: golf career, modeling career, and now she can embark on a business career. In 2014, Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper had an article about Rawson's pursuit of her business Masters and wrote: "She sees herself combining her past life with her keen interest in business, and feels Columbia will help her do that."

The article explains that Anna's interest in an MBA was spurred by all the corporate CEOs she met during golf tournament pro-ams, and suggests she might put her MBA to use with a business focused on golf clothing:

Ms. Rawson admits that students who are concentrating in finance have a hard time believing the kinds of people – from portfolio managers to CEOs – with whom she’s played golf. “They’re shocked at the access that I got.”

That access allowed her to pick the brains of some of the most successful people in U.S. business, helping her in and out of the classroom. Ms. Rawson says that she is going to try to embark down an entrepreneurship path in the clothing industry, particularly active wear.

Of course, Anna still models and still plays golf, and sometimes combines the two as in photoshoots for the golf magazines, or video series. Who knows, maybe someday we'll see Anna Rawson running one of the big golf companies.

More Anna Rawson on Golf Babes

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Melissa Reid Returns to the Winner's Circle

A huge "congrats!" goes out today to Melissa Reid, winner of the 2015 Turkish Airlines Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour. And not just from Golf Babes, but from so many of her peers, both on the LET and on women's tours around the world. You only have to check Twitter to find messages of congratulations from so many of her fellow golfers.

Melissa was one of the up-and-comers in European golf when she won on the LET in 2010 and twice in 2011. She played in the Solheim Cup in 2011.

But her last victory - before today - was in 2012. And that win, at the Raiffeisenbank Prague Golf Masters in the Czech Republic, was an incredibly emotional one. It came just one month after the death of Reid's mother in an automobile accident during the Ladies German Open.

That crushing loss was, as you can imagine, difficult to deal with. She also suffered an injury in the last tournament of 2012. The time since then wasn't without glimpses of her former form - she had two Top 10s in both 2013 and 2014 - but her play suffered.

But the signs Reid was close to making it all the way back to her former form were there already in 2015. Her finishes before Turkey were 12th, 21st, 14th and second.

And now she's a winner again. Great to see her back where she belongs.

Checking In With Tisha Alyn Abrea

It's the time of year when college seniors everywhere are taking their final college photos and contemplating the future. That's true for college golfers, too, especially those with options both inside and outside of golf.

So when Tisha Alyn Abrea - a college golfer with options - posted the photo above, I decided to check in with her. As we told you when we wrote about Tisha previously, she's a broadcast journalism major at Cal State Fullerton who already has some significant on-the-job training: she's been getting airtime on a regional network in Southern California that programs for the Filipino-American community.

She's also an NCAA winner: Tisha had a terrific Fall season late in 2014, including victory at the Rose City Collegiate. So what are her plans? Will she focus on golf or on broadcasting as she leaves the college life?

"I plan on going professional," Abrea told Golf Babes. "I plan on going to Q-School this summer if I feel like I'm ready. I'll do the broadcasting thing after my golf career unless a golf broadcasting opportunity comes my way."

Unfortunately, Tisha's Spring season didn't build on the success of her Fall season after she suffered an injury.

"I ended really rough due to an injury at my conference championship. So it's been rough even thinking about going professional. But because of my success in the fall I don't want to give up trying. I haven't touched a club since conference, but I intend to hit it hard and get back into it in a week."

Best of luck to Tisha - and all the other graduating college golfers - as she chases the pro dream starting this summer.

If you want to keep up with Tisha's journey, follow her on Twitter: @Tisha_All_in

Minjee Lee Grabs First LPGA Win

Minjee Lee was the cover girl on the April 2015 Issue of Golf Digest Australia - almost perfect timing. Of course, as talented as Minjee is, it was only a matter of time until she grabbed her first win on the LPGA Tour.

Today, the almost-19-year-old Lee did just that, closing out the victory in a Monday finish at the Kingsmill Championship. Lee held a 4-shot lead when darkness forced an end to play on Sunday. She and the other contenders returned Monday morning to finish, Lee having three holes left. She stumbled just a bit on the 16th hole, but ended with two pars and a 2-shot win over So Yeon Ryu.

Minjee is about nine days shy of turning 19. This wins makes her one of the handful of golfers in LPGA history to win before turning 19.

LET Experimenting with Wednesday Finish in Turkey

L-R: Kelsey MacDonald, Stephanie Na, Amy Boulden, Henni Zuel, Melissa Eaton

The Ladies European Tour is conducting a couple experiments this week in Turkey at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open that could, down the road, have a big impact on how the LET (and perhaps other tours) schedules its events.

One thing to know about the LET is that it's a tour with a large supply of young, attractive, hip golfers - players who are social media savvy (some of the best tweeters and Instagrammers are LET golfers) and brimming with personality. A few of them are pictured on this page. If you don't yet know the LET but love women's golf, you should definitely get to know it.

But that's the problem: there is so much golf on TV that even with channels dedicated to nothing but golf there are tournaments and tours that get squeezed out. The LPGA runs into this issue, too: When every tournament across all the pro tours around the world are played on the same days, and end on Sunday, it's often women's golf that gets overlooked by the networks.

I assume the LET's broadcast situation in Europe and other places the tour plays is much better than it is here in the USA, where LET broadcasts are difficult to find. But it's still a situation that suffers from what the LET calls "Sunday clutter."

How can the LET improve its slots on the TV schedule, raise its ratings, boost its profile with fans? Start by thinking outside the box. Outside the Thursday-through-Sunday box, for starters.

And that's what the LET is doing this week in Turkey. The Turkish Airlines Ladies Open begins on Sunday (May 17) and concludes on Wednesday. The Turkish Airlines Ladies Open thus becomes the first tournament on any major pro tour to finish on a Wednesday. The LET explains:

The pioneering move is one of a tranche of innovations aimed at boosting the profile of the sport both on television and at the event and has been met with enthusiasm from broadcasters and commercial partners.

The growing tournament will be broadcast on live television in 60 countries and 243 million homes, and there is record prize money of 500,000 euros, an increase of 100 per cent on 2014.

An example of the improved TV times made possible by this move: On the US Golf Channel, the LET is getting live, 3-hour blocks on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings this week.

The scheduling isn't the only innnovation that was tried this week in Turkey. Four LET members played a night golf exhibition under floodlights at The Carya Golf Club, which is the only lighted golf course in Europe. The tour says such exhibitions "may prepare the ground for a potential floodlit tournament in the future." Wouldn't that be something.

So take this opportunity to get to know the Ladies European Tour. You can bet the LPGA and other pro tours will be paying close attention to the LET's experiment, too.

L-R: Maria Balikoeva, Carly Booth, Sharmila Nicollet, Maha Haddioui)

Jennifer Brumbaugh Nets First Pro Win

There's a new first-time winner in professional golf, Jennifer Brumbaugh. Brumbaugh is in her second full season as a pro after graduating from San Jose State University in 2013. She won one NCAA event while at SJSU.

But now she is a winner of a pro tournament, the most recent event on the SunCoast Pro Golf Tour mini-tour in Florida (formerly known as the Suncoast Series). Brumbaugh shot rounds of 73, 69 and 68 to win by one stroke.

Jennifer played 13 times on the Symetra Tour in 2014, and also played on the Canadian Women's Tour in 2014 with a best showing of 18th.

And she's getting into her first Symetra Tour event of 2015 this week - she's in the field at the Mission Health Wellness Classic. Pretty sweet to be coming in off her first pro victory.

She can also portray Lara Croft for Halloween:

And Jennifer is a winner in another way. We hereby declare her the winner of the Best Golfer's Tan Award for this photo:

You can Like Jennifer on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

Paula Creamer Given 'Dove Real Beauty Women of the Military Award'

Congratulations to Paula Creamer, the 2015 recipient of the Dove Real Beauty Women of the Military Award. She received the award at a luncheon this week prior to the start of the Kingsmill tournament:

This is the second year of the award, which was also presented by Dove to an LPGA Tour golfer - Stacy Lewis - in 2014. The LPGA explained the award's purpose in last year's announcement about Lewis:

The Dove Unilever Luncheon helps spread the message of enhancing self-esteem and true beauty inside and out for women that are associated with the military- either a spouse or active duty service member. There were 200 military women in attendance for the inaugural luncheon, and attendees were selected by helping spread Dove’s Real Beauty campaign’s initiative.

Paula has long been a supporter of military families and has made numerous visits with troups at military facilities over the years. But her relationship with the miliary became much closer when she married an Air Force pilot, Derek Heath: "Paula’s father and Derek’s father flew together in the Navy and both became commercial airline pilots. They remain close friends. Paula and Derek met at the Kia Classic in March. Derek, an Air Force Academy graduate, flies C-17s, large military transports, for the Air Force. He recently moved into active reserve status." (via Golf Channel)

More Paula Creamer posts on Golf Babes

Alejandra Llaneza

Alejandra Llaneza is the winner of the 2015 Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women's Health Classic. The Symetra Tour event concluded on May 10 with Llaneza one shot better than runner-up Casey Grice.

It's the first Symetra Tour win for Llaneza, who has had conditional LPGA Tour status since the 2013 season. She turned pro in 2012 after finishing her college career at the University of Arizona.

But it's not a surprise that Llaneza, who hails from Mexico, is in the winner's circle. She had nine previous Top 10s in her Symetra Tour career, and in 2015 her finishes have improved with each tournament: 29th, 23rd, 19th, 8th and now 1st.

Llaneza won the Women's Health Classic with a birdie on the final hole, one of three birdies (against no bogeys) she made on the back nine during the final round.

Alejandra was the 5-time Junior National Champion in Mexico. While still in college she won a tournament on the Cactus Tour in 2011. In 2012, after joining the Symetra Tour, she made 14 of 16 cuts. In 2013, Llaneza improved to 13 out of 13 cuts and posted her best previous finish on the tour, runner-up at IOA Golf Classic. She had two Top 10s in five starts on the Symetra in 2014.

The photos on this page are screengrabs from a behind-the-scenes video of a photo shoot Alejandra did in 2013 with Record Mexico:

German Amateur Olivia Cowan Gets First Win in Pro Tournament

(Photo: instagram/olleeeyy)

If you don't follow women's amateur golf, you might not know this: But there are a lot of very good young German golfers on the way up. And Olivia Cowan is definitely on the way up.

She's so "up" that she just won her first professional tournament, doing so while still an amateur. The 19-year-old Cowan won the ASGI Ladies Open today in Switzerland, an event on the LET Access Series. The LETAS is the developmental circuit of the Ladies European Tour.

Cowan posted scores of 71-67-69 for a final score of 9-under par and a 3-shot winning margin.

Olivia is currently ranked No. 23 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. She finished ninth in a previous LETAS start in 2015. And in amateur events Cowan has wins so far in 2015 at the Portuguese International Ladies Amateur Championship and the Spanish Ladies' Amateur Championship (which makes her Queen of Iberia, right?).

Sandra Gal Is Really Looking Forward to the Solheim Cup

Where is Sandra Gal from? Germany. And where does the 2015 Solheim Cup take place? Germany.

And that has Gal fired up to be on Team Europe. Look, she's already siccing her dog on American opponents:

In her most recent diary for USA Today, Gal wrote:

I couldn't be more excited for German golf fans to have a chance to see some of the best of women's golf and for me to have a reasonable prospect of making the team. It is an honor to represent Europe and Germany and an even bigger honor to be able to perform in front of my home country, fans, and friends.

She added: "This year, I am going to give everything to be a part of the team."

Sandra writes that she has "a reasonable chance" to make Team Europe after being passed over in 2013. I'd put it in stronger terms - I don't think there's any chance Gal will miss out this time. Not because she's German, although that helps: They'll definitely want a German golfer on the team for a Solheim Cup played in Germany.

But Gal happens to be playing very good golf in 2015. A check of the Solheim Cup standings for Team Europe currently shows Gal nabbing one of the nine automatic qualifying spots.

Sandra rarely plays the Ladies European Tour and so will not qualify via the points list. If she gets an automatic spot, it will be through the world rankings. And Gal is currently the fifth-highest-ranked European in the Rolex Rankings (behind Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist, Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda). Overall, Gal is No. 36 in the world rankings at this time.

Through the early part of the LPGA schedule in 2015, Sandra is 18th on the tour's money list. She's 13th in scoring average - first in eagles and fifth in birdies. She's 13th in putts per GIR and 18th in sand saves.

In six of her 10 LPGA starts in 2015, Sandra has finished in the Top 15. That includes a tie for 13th last week at the North Texas Shootout; a tie for 13th the previous week at the Swinging Skirts; and a tie for sixth place the week before that at the Lotte Championship.

You can follow Sandra's Solheim Cup quest by following her on Twitter or on Instagram. And she's very much worth the follow.