Indian professional golfer Sharmila Nicollet has won a fan Twitter poll to determine the final playing spot in the 2017 ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer. Nicollet tapped into India’s large population and fervent sports fan base to win by nine percentage points over runner-up Blair O’Neal.
Nicollet is one of only six Indian women to play on the Ladies European Tour (LET), where she has competed in 64 tournaments. She turned professional in 2009 when she was 18 years old and at the time was the youngest Indian golfer to qualify for the LET. Nicollet is currently a 13-time winner on the Women Golf Association of India tour.
The poll received nearly 28,000 total votes over seven days and unprecedented promotion for the LPGA. The poll was tweeted or retweeted to an estimated 85 million followers from domestic and international athletes, celebrities, brands and media outlets. Votes were cast from an estimated 90 different countries.
“We were thrilled to provide our fans an opportunity to help pick the final spot in our field, and we’re excited to offer a playing opportunity to a deserving professional golfer such as Nicollet,” said Tim Erensen, Executive Director of the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer. “The international exposure generated by this fan vote was extremely valuable for our tournament and women’s professional golf and we want to thank the tens of thousands of fans across the world who cast their votes.”
O’Neal, a former member of the Symetra Tour, and Carly Booth, a Scot currently ranked 19th on the Ladies European Tour, traded the lead for the first five days of the poll. Nicollet moved to the top spot on Saturday and widened her lead over the final two days, the beneficiary of a fan campaign on Twitter dubbed #GetSharmilaToLPGA. Susana Benavides, a member of the Symetra Tour and the first Bolivian to play in an LPGA event, finished fourth. The final results:
Total Votes: 27,652
Sharmila Nicollet 39%
Blair O’Neal 30%
Carly Booth 25%
Susana Benavides 6%
"I would like to thank the sponsor ShopRite for conceiving the brilliant idea of having fans vote their choice," said Nicollet. "In a small way, this poll has helped boost awareness of the game in India where it is still a niche sport. I would also like to thank all my supporters and my countrymen who voted for me. I plan to make the most of this opportunity while I continue to work on achieving peak form. To Carly, Blair and Susana, you girls are such great ambassadors of the game. Keep going."
The four professional golfers were chosen from data provided by MVPindex, the de facto social media index and valuation platform for sports and entertainment. They hail from four different continents – Europe, Asia and North and South America – and have a combined total of more than one million followers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
The 2017 ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer will take place May 29 – June 4 at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club near Atlantic City, New Jersey. For more information visit www.shopritelpgaclassic.com.