The LPGA Tour has been riding a positive wave since the appointment of Michael Whan last October, and most people say that Whan's accessible, laid-back attitude are among his best qualities.
So while his latest move might not surprise those in his inner circle, it did catch our eye. In an attempt to get a better sense for what the Duramed Futures Tour (the LPGA's developmental tour) is all about, Whan will caddy for Lili Alvarez at the Florida's Natural Charity Classic, the first round of the tour's first event this season.
"There's no way to get to know our business partners, players, volunteers, caddies, fans, etc without being there," said Whan, who spends a lot of time on the driving ranges and often walks the course during competitive rounds. "That's how you become part of the team, and I'm a new member of the team."
Whan added: "I hope Lili thinks it's cool."
That's an understatement, according to Alvarez.
"I had no idea this would happen," said Alvarez, an energetic 26-year-old who speaks with spunk and enthusiasm. "I was just sitting at home in Mexico, comfortable, doing my own thing when Zayra Calderon [CEO of the Futures Tour] called me to tell me the news. I was like, 'That's so awesome!'"
Chances are, you haven't heard of Alvarez. The native Texan studied Political Science at Tulane University, and grabbed three wins in collegiate competition. Alvarez turned pro in 2007, but life on the road has been rough. Alvarez has earned about $11,000 after two full seasons (33 starts) on the Futures Tour, so she's hoping to turn a corner this season.
"It's my third year on tour, and I've always said golf is a lot like baseball," said Alvarez. "I've been given three chances to prove myself."
Whan and Alvarez have never met, and they've exchanged just one email. So when I asked Whan about what advice he plans to give, he laughed and returned with an insightful reply:
"I'll say very little. I'll show up, keep up and shut up."