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.

Paula Reto

The second-round leader the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic might be an unfamiliar name (at this point) even to LPGA fans. So let's introduce Paula Reto.

Reto shot 65-66 the first two rounds of the Yokohama, the tour's Alabama stop, and held a 3-stroke lead at that point. We don't know how she'll finish, but she's made an impression.

The 2014 season is Reto's rookie year on the LPGA, and entering the Alabama event she had played 17 tournaments and stood 105th on the money list. She was 316th in the world rankings at that point.

Reto got off to a rough start in 2014, missing 10 of her first 12 cuts. But since that time Paula has made some money, including a season-best tie for 9th at the Portland Classic, her last event before the Yokohama.

She's a native of Capetown, South Africa, who played NCAA golf at Purdue University. She was a 3-time All-Big 10 Conference selection and, as a senior in 2013, led the conference in scoring average and earned All-America honors. Pretty impressive given that she didn't take up golf until age 16.

Paula turned pro in June 2013 and headed to the Symetra Tour, where her best finish was a third-place showing in the Symetra Tour Championship. She earned LPGA status by placing 13th at Q-School.

What's her game like? Looking at her LPGA season stats, she appears to be a player who combines two pretty good qualities: Distance off the tee and putting. At the time of the Yokohama event, Reto was seventh in driving distance and eighth in putting average. But her weaknesses are easy to spot, too: She was 144th in driving accuracy and 146th in greens in regulation.

On Twitter, you can find Paula Reto at @paularetoSA.

Caite Upton and Back9Network's 'Off Par'

We wrote earlier about Back9Network's The Turn and its co-host, Erica Bachelor. Let's turn now to another of the shows that will debut when Back9Network makes the leap from online content to television network: Off Par, co-hosted by Caite Upton.

First, a reminder about what Back9Network is up to: The network has existed for a couple years as an online content destination, with plans to grow into a television network. That time arrives on Sept. 29, 2014, when Back9 debuts on the DirecTV platform. The network plans to expand to other cable providers in the future, as new deals can be struck.

How will Back9Network differ from the Golf Channel? Focus. While Back9 will provide golf news, that's not its focus; golf lifestyle is. Says Senior VP of Programming Scot Thor: "While we will certainly pay attention to professional golf's leaderboard, our coverage will focus on the lifestyle of the game where golf enthusiasts are spending their time and money - the courses and resorts they can play, the latest fashion, gadgets and equipment, and the behind-the-scenes stories that will highlight the personalities and characters that make golf so much fun."

Off Par is described as "an inventive look at the world of golf and entertainment, with a comedic twist." The co-hosts are comedian/actor Matty Blake and model Caite Upton. Off Par will air in the 8 p.m. (Eastern) timeslot on weeknights, with its hosts and a "rotating cast of characters" having fun with "viral internet videos, user-generated social media content, golf-themed skits and guest appearances by other comedians."

Upton was Miss South Carolina Teen USA in 2007, and in 2010 she was a contestant on the 16th season of the popular ABC reality series Amazing Race. Her full name is Lauren Caitlin Upton, but professionally she goes by Caite Upton. (Perhaps Caite Upton can welcome Kate Upton onto Off Par someday!)

At the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant, Caite had an infamous meltdown trying to respond to a question about geography from one of the judges (why do they try to ask "serious" questions at beauty pageants?). It was an embarrassing episode, but to her great credit Upton never ran from it. On her Facebook page today, she describes herself this way: "I'm a Model/Host/Actress, former Miss South Carolina Teen USA (Yes, I'm THAT girl) AND Amazing Race finalist!"

Good luck to Caite and the rest of the Back9 talent as they prepare for lift-off.