No 8 Watch Your Language

By Brian HewittDecember 14, 2008, 5:00 pm
The LPGAs critics ' and they are nasty and legion ' have long insisted that the organization should be renamed, The Gang That Couldnt Shoot Straight Unless It Was Aiming At Its Own Foot.
 
This is largely unfair, especially if you consider all the progress the LPGA made under the stewardship of former commissioner Ty Votaw, now a senior executive at the PGA Tour.
 
But in August, Votaws successor, the controversial Carolyn Bivens, stirred up a hornets nest of negative publicity for womens golf when it was reported that she had plans to threaten fines and suspensions for foreign players who couldnt pass minimum English language requirements.
 
Worse, Bivens reportedly announced these plans in a meeting to which only players of Asian descent were invited.
 
Bivens was coming from a marketing standpoint. And, to be fair, there has long been an understanding that the LPGA, struggling to keep sponsors in certain cities, needed to make all of its players more fan friendly. At the very least, the LPGA needed to make its players capable of communicating with well-heeled pro-am partners. Its a language fluency that most agree is the price of doing business on the golf course in the womens game.
 
But the threats came off as being heavy-handed. And the blowback from the Asian-American community in the United States was fast and furious.
 
It should be noted here that Asian women won three of the LPGAs four majors in 2008. Lorena Ochoa, a Mexican, captured the other one. There are 121 international players from 26 countries, including 45 from South Korea on the LPGA. Many of them have minimal English language skills.
 
Don Shin, whose Global Sports Management is based in Orlando, Fla., represents South Korean LPGA players Meena Lee, Sarah Lee and four other Asian women. He told GolfChannel.com that the LPGAs move was appropriate. But he said none of his players were initially told what the oral evaluation would entail.
 
Shin made several very good points at the time. He said he wasnt worried about any of his players passing a test. And, he added, most of them have been receiving English tutoring, two months out of the year, since as early as 2005.
 
But he pointed out that Korean, like Japanese or Chinese, is very different than English ' much more so than, say, Spanish, Italian or French. And, he said, any Asian women who fail an oral evaluation should be given a proper amount of time to receive more help with the English language.
 
Bivens responded by saying the LPGA wouldnt begin considering suspensions until the end of 2009.
 
The goal was to eradicate this stereotype: Four cigar-chomping, middle-aged American men say hello to a 22-year-old South Korean woman who bows at the introduction on the first tee of the Wednesday Pro-Am. There are smiles but very few words exchanged over the next five-and-a-half hours after which the men scratch their heads and wonder why their foursome paid $10,000 for little or no conversation.
 
Who was to blame is a matter of opinion. But an imposition of oral evaluations carried with it no small whiff of infringement upon civil liberties.
 
By September, Bivens had changed her tune. Under increasing criticism, the Tour backed off plans to suspend players.
 
'We have decided to rescind those penalty provisions,' Bivens said in a statement. 'After hearing the concerns, we believe there are other ways to achieve our shared objective of supporting and enhancing the business opportunities for every tour player.'
 
By October there were signs of progress when Korean-born In-Kyung Kim won the Longs Drug Challenge.
 
Kims victory did not come as a surprise to anybody who noticed that she finished in the top 10 in each of the last two womens majors this year. But the performances that put the most smiles on the bosses back at LPGA headquarters were the one turned in by the 20-year-old Kim in the press room and at the trophy presentation.
 
Kim was the first Korean to win an LPGA event since the storm of controversy accompanied the organizations announcement that it was going to mandate more English language proficiency from its foreign-born players.
 
At her Longs news conference Saturday, Kim made it through without an interpreter and referred to herself self-deprecatingly, but endearingly, as a
Little punk kid. Very American.
 
The word she probably was looking for was underdog. But all the present knew
what she was trying to say. Then Kim revealed that she had been taking English classes two days a week at the University of South Carolina but that she struggled in other parts of the country because the South Carolina accent was so different.
 
Finally, with the sponsors beaming in the background at the presentation of the winners check, she blushed and said, This is like my English class. If they had been handing out grades that Sunday, the consensus is that In-Kyung Kim
would have received an A on the course and an A off the course as well. Rosetta Stone language courses, she said, have also helped.
 
Finally, at the LPGAs season-ending ADT event in late November, Bivens updated her tours progress. Our intention, she said, is to develop a cross-cultural program in addition to a language policy that will be inclusive, and meet the diverse needs of all the members of the LPGA.
 
Bottom line, our primary goal and intent is to do the right thing by our entire membership, our sponsors, our fans and the golf community at large.
 
Getting more specific, Bivens added: What has come out of all of this are offers, in some cases for some pro bono work, from some pretty impressive groups and organizations and were taking them up on it.
 
So were actually going to make this more extensive then wed ever intended to in the very first place. Our goal is to come out of this a year to 18 months from now and have a model program.
 
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''