SINGAPORE | Dr. Cheng Wen-Haur, the chief life sciences officer at Wildlife Reserves Singapore, and Mike Whan, commissioner of the LPGA, turned out to have plenty in common during the HSBC Women’s World Champions. Each is equally excited about having a big baby boom on his hands.
At the Singapore Zoo, where Charley Hull and Georgia Hall breakfasted with a couple of orangutans and their offspring, officials recently recorded the first birth in seven years of a Celebes Crested Macaque, a species of monkey on the critically endangered list.
The women golfers may not be on such a list but, according to Whan, the fact that the number of babies in the LPGA daycare centre is rising from its regulars – Cristie Kerr’s son, and Karine Icher’s two daughters – could not be better news for the LPGA Tour.
“It sends out all the right messages for us,” said Whan. “It changes people’s perception of the tour. They will see that it’s possible to play golf, take time off to have a family, and then come back when you’re ready. I picture all the new arrivals growing up together, like back in the days when Juli Inkster and Nancy Lopez were at the top of their games.”
For Whan, a seminal moment came when Kerr’s older child, Mason, came running onto the 18th green as his mother won the Lotte championship of 2017. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow that’s impressive,’ as I ran through the list of things Cristie does. Golf and motherhood apart, she’s got her own wine business and runs a charity. Of course it can’t be easy but she does it just the same.”
Along much the same lines, Whan talked of the emotions that attached to a recent Mums-on-Tour luncheon which covered present players and past. “When it came to the dinner,” he said, “one mum after another stood up to say how much it meant to her to be able to have family and to keep playing. I’d never seen Laura Diaz cry before but she was certainly crying then as she spoke of how she had been given the chance to keep playing, and how her children had been able to see ‘a different side of motherhood.’”
“It takes time to get used to having a child, and then to getting back into competitive mode. The main thing is to make sure you get the rest you’re going to need.” – Cristie Kerr
Smuckers, the peanut butter people who sponsor the LPGA’s daycare centre, have been adding to their staff to accommodate all the new arrivals. For the moment at least, the list of babies and children on the register, and expected to join it, reads like this:
- Juli Inkster – Hayley (born 1990) and Cori (born 1994)
- Catriona Matthew – Katie (born 2006) and Sophie (born 2009)
- Karine Icher – Lola (6 years old) and Maya (born 2018)
- Cristie Kerr – Mason (5 years old), and Griffin (born 2018)
- Sydnee Michael – Isla (born 2017)
- Stacy Lewis – Chesnee Lynn Chadwell (born 2018)
- Gerina Piller – Ajeo “AJ” James (born 2018)
- Brooke Pancake – Lucy Reese Rende (born 2018)
- Rachel Rohanna – Gemelia Grace Virgili (born 2018)
- Suzann Pettersen – Herman Alexander (born 2018)
- Sarah Jane Smith (due date: July)
- Brittany Lincicome (due date: September 1)
Gerina Piller, who is married to Martin Piller from the PGA Tour, and gave birth to “AJ” in April 2018, is back for a first time at this week’s HSBC Women’s World Championship, while Sarah Jane Smith has been playing through the heat at around five months pregnant. Plenty of the women would pick out Smith as having one of the finest swings on tour and, watching her at Sentosa, you had to wonder if the baby was even now picking up on her lovely timing.
Duane Smith, her husband and caddie, says he could not have been more touched with the way their baby news was received on tour. “There was a congratulatory e-mail from Mike Whan and then we had a moment to remember in Thailand when everyone was told to return to base because of an impending storm. There were two top players and their caddies being ferried back to base in a buggy and, the moment they saw Sarah Jane, the caddies leapt from the buggy and insisted that she should get on instead.”
Kerr, who had a second child via surrogate in August of last year, had a message for all the new mums. “Don’t think it’s going to be easy to have a baby and to keep playing,” she said. “It takes time to get used to having a child, and then to getting back into competitive mode. The main thing is to make sure you get the rest you’re going to need.”
Though players in the HSBC Women’s World Championship have always enjoyed their visits to see the orangutans there will be no reciprocal arrangements for the monkeys to visit the golfers’ little ones any time soon. So far, the daycare centre has yet to travel outside America.
Cristie Kerr points at her son, Mason, now 5 years old and a regular in the LPGA daycare centre, after winning the 2015 CME Group Tour Championship. Photo: David Albers, Naples Daily News via AP
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