How much did the Tidewater area miss having a professional golf tournament at Kingsmill the last two years?
A lot would be the answer judging from Thursday’s attendance. The 10,209 fans who showed up at the Kingsmill Championship broke the first-round record of 7,762 set in 2009. As of 10 a.m. on Friday, more than 10,000 had already entered the gates at Kingsmill.
Many players were surprised by the support, especially on Thursday, as a storm swept through the River Course shortly after noon and delayed the tournament for 1 hour, 51 minutes.
“It’s very special to be back because these people, they know what they’re doing,” Kim said. “They love their golf. They’re passionate about it. They’re thankful to have us here, which I don’t understand why because we’re taking up all their tee times.”
Kingsmill hosted a PGA Tour event from 1981-2002, then moved to the LPGA in 2003. When Belgian firm InBev bought Anheuser-Busch, it discontinued its affiliation with professional golf and sold Kingsmill to Colorado-based Xanterra.
The LPGA and Xanterra came to an agreement to host the LPGA for two years as they seek a sponsor to take over the event. This week’s big crowds should facilitate their efforts, especially considering it is competing with a NASCAR race in Richmond, college football games on Saturday and the NFL on Sunday. Next year the Kingsmill Championship will move to a more optimal date in May.
“The great thing about hosting a first-rate sporting event like the Kingsmill Championship is that all the fans are eager to come out and watch,” tournament director Wayne Nooe said in a statement. “With a clear forecast and stellar leaderboard ahead, we anticipate even larger crowds on the weekend.”
Tickets are available at www.thekingsmillchampionship.com.