SELECTING SONDERS: Tiger Woods may be the world’s number-one ranked golfer again, but he didn’t make the cut for the cover of Golf Digest’s May issue. Instead, the magazine opted for Golf Channel’s Holly Sonders.

Sonders, cohost of “Morning Drive” and “School of Golf,” was selected for her sexy and athletic image as the cover girl for the magazine’s fitness-themed issue.

This story first appeared in the April 5, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Ron Kaspriske, who penned the article on Sonders and spearheaded the fitness package, said she was chosen because the magazine thought she’d be “an inspiration to our readers.” Before a knee injury ended her hopes of a professional career in golf, Sonders was “an accomplished amateur player,” he said, racking up two American Junior Golf Association wins and helping Michigan State win the 2007 Big Ten Championship. Kaspriske said having a woman on the cover is “unusual,” but the chatter around Sonders was the tipping point. “We usually go with a professional or an amateur, but she’s gotten so much buzz, we decided to go out with her first,” he said.

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He said the 35-page fitness section is intended to help golfers “slowly march toward getting fit” and includes exercises, nutrition tips and even “home-spun advice” from Mark Wahlberg, also an avid golfer and fitness buff. “We wanted people to know this is the sport of a lifetime,” Kaspriske said. “You may not be the guy with the six-pack abs, but there are a lot of things you can do to improve the experience and the way you look and feel.”

A teaser for the issue on the magazine’s Web site with outtakes from the Sonders photo shoot is quickly closing in on a record number of hits, Kaspriske said. The tablet version of the magazine came out Tuesday and the print edition hits newsstands on April 9.