Final ShopRite LPGA Classic spot to be determined by Twitter vote

May 1, 2017

Updated: Sharmila Nicollet has won the final spot in the ShopRite LPGA Classic field, with 39% of the vote. 


The organizers of the ShopRite LPGA Classic are trying something new with setting their final field: the last sponsor exemption will be given to the winner of a Twitter vote held this week.

According to reports, ShopRite officials worked with sports social media tracking firm MVP Index to identify the top female golfers in social media who don’t already have a spot in the event. Fans will vote between Golf Channel host and reality golf star Blair O’Neal, Indian social media star Sharmila Nicollet, Scottish golfer and Ladies European Tour member Carly Booth, and Susana Benavides, the only Bolivian-born golfer to have played in an LPGA tournament.

O’Neal has played in more than 75 events on the Symetra Tour and was the winner of “Big Break: Dominican Republic” in 2010. Nicollet has 11 professional wins and was the youngest Indian player to qualify for the LET. Booth has two wins on the LET and, when she was 17, was the youngest player ever to qualify for that Tour. Benavides played golf while at Ohio State University and has competed on the Symetra Tour. All four women have substantial social media followings.

Tournament executive director Tim Erensen told ESPN that the officials have always been proud of the exemptions they’ve handed out. “In the past, we’ve given exemptions to Brooke Henderson, Lexi Thompson and Paula Creamer at the beginning of their careers. We think this idea adds to the excitement of what we do.”

“Women’s golf has always been at the forefront of fan engagement on the course, so it makes perfect sense that the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer would be the first professional golf tournament to use fan engagement to help shape the field of play,” Kyle Nelson, co-founder of MVPindex, said in a press release. 

The LPGA fully supports the effort, telling, “We applaud the tournament organizers at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer for being innovative and engaging the LPGA fan base around the world in this social media opportunity. We’re excited to see the results of the polling and look forward to finding out who will be joining 143 of the LPGA’s best at Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club in June.”

Fans can visit to vote until 11:59 a.m. ET May 8.