One of golf’s great New Year’s traditions is the highly successful Morgan & Friends charity event, which raised nearly $1 million this year for the fight against breast cancer.
Every January, Morgan Pressel brings some of the LPGA’s biggest stars to his home community of St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida. Members of St. Andrews always rise to the occasion, as does Banyan Golf Club in nearby West Palm Beach, which hosts a second outing the next day.
Pressel, 34, began her founding shortly after becoming the youngest major winner in circuit history 16 years ago, in what is now known as the Chevron Championship. Pressel’s mother, Kathy, died of breast cancer in 2003 and her memory is at the heart of this beautiful mission.
Now, as lead analyst for the Golf Channel’s coverage of the LPGA, Pressel has a different take on the tour he literally grew up on. golf week met with the two-time LPGA winner to discuss her foundation’s work and what fans could see on tour this season.
Congratulations on another highly successful event. Can you tell us who you honored this year and how the money will be used?
Meaghan Francella, Denise Francella and Morgan Pressel at the Morgan & Friends gala. (courtesy photo)
For our honoree this year, we honor Denise Francella, Meaghan’s mother. It was really special to have her there after everything she’s been through in the last 15 months, and to have her healthy and cancer free. Meaghan has been one of my best friends for so many years, and it was very special to honor Denise in that way, and she spoke so beautifully. … We have a couple of really great programs that we fund through Boca Raton Regional Hospital, the first being the MammoVan and our Cancer Genetics Center.
What we’ve found, and we’ve been talking to the hospital over the last year, is that the demand for the MammoVan is very, very high. Let’s work together to put another MammoVan on the road.
How much does a MammoVan cost?
Morgan Pressel and his MammoVan Jason Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports
$1.5 million. That’s just the van and equipment. Then, of course, the technicians, the gasoline, the driver.
Last year, more than 1,000 women got their mammograms in the van, and 43 percent of the patients, which is a pretty good statistic, were new. … We put on some wonderful events, and they’re so much fun, but that’s really what it’s all about, reminding people to get their mammograms. It’s very important to stay on top of your health and that’s our big, big message. Even if someone is driving down the road and sees the van go by, it might remind them to schedule their mammogram. It’s like a billboard on wheels.
What intrigues you the most for 2023?
Nelly Korda at the 2022 CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
I think it’s going to be very interesting to watch the battle for No. 1. We have Lydia (Ko), Nelly (Korda), Atthaya Thitikul. Will Jin Young Ko regain his form? Will someone else we can’t even predict find their way to No. 1 in the world? I mean, how much did it change last fall? I think I would predict that it would continue this year, and I think it will be a fun little race to watch.
Do you think Lydia Ko can dominate again?
Lydia Ko poses with the CME Globe trophy after winning the 2022 CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida. (Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
It’s hard to bet against him, the way he’s brought himself back to the top of the game. His CME form, to do it the way he did, stay ahead and held the throttle down. It certainly was a rough week, there was weather, but she never seemed nervous, she never seemed upset and just kept going.
Of course, for Lydia and most players who make it to world number 1, it’s the intangibles. It’s what you can’t see, and I feel like she’s got that back in the way she had it when she was so dominant.
No one is on top of the world forever, it’s too hard, there’s too much competition. In any sport there are fluctuations. He has rebuilt his game in a sense, perhaps even more mentally than anything else. Obviously, she’s happy off the golf course. We saw her beautiful wedding a couple of weeks ago. She’s in a different place in her life, and I think that shows on the golf course as well.
Shifting gears to your other Solheim Cup assistant captain job, what are your main responsibilities right now? What has Stacy (Lewis) got you doing?
Angela Stanford, Natalie Gulbis, Morgan Pressel, Beth Daniel, Kristy McPherson and Brittany Lincicome of Team USA’s Solheim Cup at Rich Harvest Farms on August 20, 2009 in Sugar Grove, Illinois. (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
stacy [Lewis, 2023 Solheim Cup captain] She’s so incredibly organized that I feel like she doesn’t need much help. You know, we’re really sounding boards, a lot of discussion about ways to make the week special, bring players together.
They’ve definitely put me on as the lead outfit advisor; I don’t say it correctly (laughs). We are done with the golf course outfits and now we focus on the opening ceremony outfits. … All these things that go on behind the scenes that, as a player, it’s not that I’ve never thought about it, but how early these decisions are made and how much thought is put into them.
Stacy has been very careful about how to really bridge the past and the present. I don’t want to give away too much, but she has put so much detail into so much of the experience and what you see visually. I think she will be very cool.
From an inside the ropes point of view, Europe have won four of the last six. Does it feel like a must win for Team USA?
Catriona Matthew with the Solheim Cup. (Photo courtesy of the Ladies European Tour)
Every team I’ve been on felt like a must to win. That’s just kind of, I guess, certainly my nature. You know, I think with the history of Europe, going to Europe and how strong their team has become, in the last couple of years, however, they’re going to be a tough team, and we know it. We have to bring the best of us. Stacy is really putting some new things into the mix to make sure that we’re fully prepared.
Without looking at playing records, who do you think has the most talent on the LPGA right now? Just raw athletic talent.
Lexi Thompson plays her shot from the 11th hole during the first round of the 2022 Pelican Women’s Championship at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Florida. (Photo: Mike Ehrman/Getty Images)
It would be hard to argue against Lexi (Thompson). She talks about sheer athleticism and her ability to swing the ball so spectacularly over and over again with her own swing. She’s not very mechanical, and she’s not textbook. But if you’re going to talk about athletic ability, she was the first one that came to mind.
Same thing, without looking at the record, who has the best swing in your mind?
In Gee Chun tees off on the 15th hole during the second round of the 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
In Gee Chun. I love her rhythm. I love her rhythm, and I think that’s what makes her so unfazed under pressure.
What is your history with Pebble Beach and who do you like for that week (US Women’s Open 2023)?
A general view of the seventh hole before the final round of the 2010 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
I played it a couple of times, at what used to be the Callaway Invitational around Thanksgiving time. I was there last February for the AT&T and I was walking around thinking how cool it would be this year to go to Pebble Beach for the US Open, and I’m excited to get the chance to be a part of it from the broadcast side.
It’s such an iconic place. I feel like I say this every chance I get, but places matter. The places are very important. …When the ladies get a chance to play and create their own story around these tracks, it attracts more of an audience. I think Pebble is going to absolutely take it by storm, being prime time TV on the East Coast. It will be amazing.
Lydia Ko poses for a portrait ahead of the 2022 HSBC Women’s World Championship at Sentosa Golf Club on March 1, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
I keep thinking of different names, but then Lydia keeps popping up in my head. Just think of her success on greens with Poa annua, like Lake Merced, potentially cooler weather, very small greens that require tremendous short game. She keeps showing up again.
We’ve watched Lucy Li since, like you, she was very young, and now she competed in the final group of an LPGA event. What do you expect from Lucy (an LPGA rookie) after seeing how her game has progressed over the past year?
Lucy Li, 11, during the first round of the 2014 US Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
I was very impressed to see Lucy last year, especially calling Toledo. We talk about Lexi with her athletic ability, I think Lucy has this kind of homemade golf swing, not terribly textbook, that has tremendous flowing rhythm. …Lucy was here this weekend. She came to my event. It was a lot of fun having her here. I think she has a very bright future, and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I remember her when she was little in Pinehurst field, with her colorful skirts and her red, white, and blue outfits. She showed a lot of personality there, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.
The story originally appeared on GolfWeek