New Sponsorship Deals for Jennifer Kirby, Victoria Elizabeth

We like to occasionally highlight new sponsorship deals signed by women pro golfers because in women's golf - unless you're one of the biggest stars - coming by such deals can be a struggle. So here's some good news: a pair of LPGA youngsters have new deals with a company called Paylocity.

Jennifer Kirby (left), in her rookie season, and Victoria Elizabeth (below), in her second year with LPGA status, now have Paylocity as a sponsor. Paylocity is a "cloud-based provider of payroll and human capital management software solutions" that is traded on the NASDAQ exchange.

Kirby and Elizabeth join Brooks Koepka as pro golfers sponsored by Paylocity. "... It's their passion and dedication to improvement and future success that made them the obvious choices," Michael Haske, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Paylocity, said. "We wanted to find players who shared our commitment to innovation and growth."

Here's how Paylocity ran down the backgrounds of Kirby and Elizabeth in its announcement:

A native of Paris, Ontario, Kirby first caught the golf world's attention during her amateur career. In 2009, she became the first individual to win both the Royale Cup Canadian Women's Amateur and the Royale Cup Canadian Junior Girls Championship in the same year. Kirby then went on to attend the University of Alabama where she helped lead her team to a NCAA National Championship title in 2012 and was named a first-team SEC All-American. Kirby turned professional in May of 2013 and claimed her first professional victory in her first start at the CN Canadian Women's Tour Quebec. She earned her LPGA Tour card for the 2013-14 season with a fifth place finish at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.

As a rookie on the LPGA Tour, Kirby is known for her passion for the game and long-distance driving ability. ...

Victoria Elizabeth began her LPGA Tour career in 2013, taking a different route to the top of women's golf. Before turning professional, the Dayton, Ohio native was a successful junior player with four victories on the AJGA, seven wins on the Future Collegians World Tour and was named the FCWT Player of the Year in 2007 and 2008. Elizabeth turned pro in 2009 and played on the Symetra Tour for four seasons. She had a breakthrough year on the Road to the LPGA in 2012 and recorded her first-career victory at the Credit Union Classic in Syracuse, N.Y. In addition to her win, she posted four top-10 finishes and ranked third on the Tour's money list.

With a full season of LPGA Tour experience under her belt, Elizabeth is primed for future success.

Thanks to Paylocity for helping support the young careers of two promising golfers.

Did You Know Charley Hull is a Magazine Columnist?

(Photos: @charleyhull1)

Did you know that English golf phenom Charley Hull is also a magazine columnist? Not content with being an LET champion and Solheim Cup member at age 17, and one of the most exciting young players in women's golf at age 18, now Charley is also writing a column for Lady Golfer Magazine.

Lady Golfer is published by the UK's National Club Golfer. Charley was announced as a new columnist earlier this year and her first report appeared in June. She began it by saying, "Welcome to my first column for LG where I look forward to telling you all about my exploits on the course and hopefully a few wins!"

In her second column, published in September, Charley shared some insights into her mental approach:

I like to visualise everything off the tee, rather than being too technical, and after a few weeks off (other than some games with my mates) it is easy to forget the mental visuals and then, after a couple of weeks of tournaments, it comes back and I get my confidence back.

I don’t work with a sports psychologist and just do it myself and it seems to work pretty well. I have got to know Ian Poulter, who also plays at Woburn, and he does the same thing. It helps me to be really positive, play my normal attacking game and to really focus on the target, whether it is off the tee or on the greens.

If you're a Charley Hull fan, you might want to bookmark this link; it takes you to all her columns (plus other articles and videos about her) in Lady Golfer Magazine.

Krista Bakker

(Photos: Instagram/krideee_)

Krista Bakker is a 20-year-old rookie on the Ladies European Tour. She was born in Espoo, Finland, but spent her teen years in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She has both Finnish and Dutch citizenship.

She got her start in golf at age 8, working with her father - a golf instructor - during the Finnish summers. She played on the Dutch national golf team during her early teens, but for the third-place Finland team at the Espirito Santo Trophy in 2012. Today, Krista plays under the Finnish flag.

One of her best achievements as an amateur was her third-place finish at the 2013 European Championship. Bakker turned pro after winning one of the LET's Q-School pre-qualifiers, and then finishing in the Top 30 in the Q-School proper at the end of 2013.

After her Q-School pre-qualifying win, Bakker was interviewed for the LET website, which asked her to describe her game. She replied:

"I think my driver is pretty good. I hit it far enough, not much, but it is always on the fairway. In total it is around 230 meters far. My putting is pretty constant, with an average of 29 putts."

And areas she needs to work on?

"My short game, I would need to improve my chipping and pitching. ... It needs to get better."

So far in the 2014 LET season, Krista has gotten into nine tournaments and made the cut in five of them, including a pair of Top 15 finishes. Her first cut was at the Turkish Ladies Airlines Open and she finished 15th. In her next LET start, she improved to a 9th-place finish at the Deloitte Ladies Open.

It gets cold, very, very cold, in Finland ...

... so how does Krista keep her game sharp during the winter?

"I normally go to Spain, Costa Ballena and Arcos Gardens. ... We normally go in March and also in November. In Finland we practice inside, with the Trackman."

Not a bad life, being a European tour pro.

You can follow Krista on Twitter: @kristabakker93

Will Christien of Back9Network

Last week we told you about two of the on-air personalities we'll be seeing when the Back9Network makes its cable television debut on Sept. 29 on the DirectTV system: Erica Bachelor and Caite Upton.

Today, let's meet Will Christien. Christien is the co-host of Back9Network's The Clubhouse, which will air every weeknight at 10 p.m. (Eastern). Her co-hosts are former PGA Tour player John Maginnes, and former Golfweek writer Jeff Rude.

Back9 describes the show thusly:

The playful banter of Christien, Maginnes, and Rude will echo the conversations one would hear at the 19th hole. The trio’s no-holds-barred conversations will cover the latest happenings both on and off the course, as they incorporate questions and guidance from viewers at home, celebrities and the game’s professionals.

“Our show is a conversation; we talk about life, but use golf as a theme," Christen says. "It’s for you if you’ve played once and it’s for you if you play every day.”

So who is Will Christien? As with Bachelor and Upton, Back9Network reached outside the traditional golf circles to find her. Will is a native of England who wound up traveling the globe in search of adventure; her earliest interests were in water sports such as wakeboarding and scuba diving.

She eventually became a competitive wakeboarder, even winning the British National Women’s Wakeboard championship. Along the way, Christien got into modeling and hosting, and, later, broadcasting.

Her earliest broadcasting stints were as host of wakeboarding and motocross shows; Will later branched into travel shows.

And now, she adds golf broadcaster to the list.

MJ Hur

MJ Hur won the 2014 Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic, her first LPGA win in five years. And she did it with a tournament record score of 21-under.

Hur has always looked like one of those golfers just on the verge of breaking out, and perhaps this victory will do it for her. (The MJ, by the way, is short for Mi Jung.)

Hur first made her mark when she got into the 2006 Hana Bank-Kolon Championship in her native Korea and finished sixth. After that, her father sold his sporting goods store and moved the family to America so that Hur could pursue the LPGA Tour via the Futures Tour. She won on the Futures Tour in 2007, then returned in 2008 and finished fourth on the money list. And that moved her up to the LPGA Tour in 2009.

And in that rookie season, Hur first won at the Safeway Classic.

She hadn't won since, however, until the Yokohama. There were signs it was coming, though: She finished ninth at the Portland Classic two starts prior; and was third at her previous start, the major Evian Championship.

MJ is still only 24 years old.

Demi Runas Plays Her Way Onto LPGA Tour at Symetra Finale

As the season-ending Symetra Tour Championship began, Demi Runas sat 15th on the tour's money list. Problem: Only the Top 10 finishers in the "Race to the Card" earn LPGA Tour status for 2015.

Runas needed to finish in the Top 5 in the Tour Championship in order to jump into the Top 10 on the money list. And after three rounds, she was only in 21st place in the tournament.

Problem? Turns out, it was no problem! Runas played the round of her life in the final round of the Symetra Tour Championship, carding a 65 that included birdies on the two final holes. That jumped her all the way up into a tie for first. She went into a playoff against Jackie Stoelting and Marita Engzelius.

A storybook ending would have had Runas winning the tournament to secure her LPGA card. But this is life, not a storybook, and Engzelius won the playoff. But something tells me Runas isn't beating herself up too bad over that missed opportunity at a victory.

By finishing second in the Symetra Tour Championship, she jumped up to ninth place on the tour money list. And that means she'll be making the jump to the LPGA Tour in 2015. What a way to finish off your rookie season as a pro.

Demi is an American who played her college golf at Cal-Davis. She won four NCAA tournaments while there, won the Big West Conference Player of the Year award three straight seasons (2011-13), and was second-team All-America as a senior. She also won the Arizona Women's Open while still in college, and recorded victories on the Cactus Tour and Suncoast Series in 2013.

On the Symetra Tour in 2014, Demi had two runner-up finishes (including at the Tour Championship), a pair of third-place finishes and a fifth-place showing.

Welcome to the LPGA, Demi Runas.