Sharmila Nicollet tops poll, wins ShopRite LPGA Classic exemption

The results from the controversial LPGA twitter vote are in. Sharmila Nicollet is the winner of the sponsor’s exemption into the June 2-4 ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The real battle was between Golf Channel personality and tour golfer of sorts, Blair O’Neal and pride of India, Ms. Nicollet, as both golfers exceeded 30 percent of the votes. More than 25,000 votes were cast in the course of the May 1 through May 8 poll.

Nicollet did her best to make her case on social media, starting the hashtag #GetSharmilatoLPGA and posting daily about the contest. Arguably the most famous female golfer in her native India, Nicollet had a base of support none of the other three women could match.

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Nicollet, 26, has teed it up twice in LPGA Tour events. She missed the cut at the 2011 and 2012 Evian Championship, but plays mostly on the Hero Women’s Professional Golf Tour in India. She’s won 14 times on that tour and has twice won its Order of Merit. She has played sporadically on the Ladies European Tour with little success, most recently pegging it at the Tipsport Golf Masters in June 2016.

Here’s the final tally. As you can see, it was a two-horse race.

There was an obvious “sex sells” component to the contest. None of the four ladies in question have distinguished pedigrees, but all have distinguished social media presences. Certainly, Nicollet relied heavily on Indian support and a massive social following. And if you’re wondering what her presence on the aforementioned social media looks like, here are a few items from her Instagram.

What a world we live in. Not the most high-brow of press. Exploitative to a degree, but press nevertheless in a sport that needs it. It will be interesting to see the ShopRite LPGA Classic’s approach to handing out sponsor’s exemptions represents the beginning of a trend.

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