Solutions to LPGA Problems

By Brian HewittNovember 24, 2008, 5:00 pm
2006 ADT ChampionshipWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. ' Tough season-ending week for the LPGA. Some of the problems were of its own making. Others were outside the control of an organization that is, at best, star-crossed right now and, at worst, in deep trouble if the world economy doesnt rebound by 2010.
 
For starters, the shadow of ADTs departure as an LPGA title sponsor for its championship, cast a pall over the entire event.
 
Then there was the failure of the LPGAs two marquee players ' Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa ' to advance to the weekend.
 
There was nothing embattled commissioner Carolyn Bivens could do about that. But there were plenty of people who thought Bivens could, and should, have stepped in to prevent Sorenstam from undergoing the ignominy of drug-testing after her final round Friday.
 
Saturdays story revolved around the gritty struggles of rising star Paula Creamer. Creamer fought a stomach ailment throughout the third round and toughed her way into Sundays final eight. Then it was revealed that she had to spend the night in a nearby hospital.
 
She made it back Sunday. But Ji-Yai Shin won the golf tournament. And if you are of the myopic persuasion that golf is relevant only when it piques the interest of ESPNs SportsCenter, you werent impressed.
 
In the face of all of this, there actually are at least a couple of reasons for the LPGA to feel better about itself right now.
 
For starters, there was the report late last week in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that Donald Trump has begun talking again with ADT officials in an attempt to restore the popular ADT Championship, and its compelling format, to Trump International as early as 2010.
 
The LPGA, which is suffering across the board from decreased leverage at bargaining tables, should do its best to baby-sit any agreement reached by The Donald and ADT. The LPGAs harsh critics ' and they are legion ' will cynically regard this development by suggesting that the LPGA just stay out of the way: Allow Trump to do the deal and let him tell the LPGA if and when a renewal happens.
 
The other development that got lost in the shuffle of the controversy that surrounded Sorenstams drug test late Friday was the fierce integrity displayed by LPGA general counsel Jill Pilgrim in explaining the importance of maintaining her tours random drug-testing protocol.
 
Pilgrim was close to defiant when she met with reporters moments after Sorenstams test. Im busy, she said. The group of reporters, gathered to question her, fired right back, saying they, too, were busy.
 
But the more you listened to Pilgrim, the more you realized that the LPGA had little choice when Sorenstams name and number came up for drug-testing. The LPGAs legal liability, if it had caved to pressure to give Sorenstam a pass, would have been huge.
 
Any player who had previously tested positive ' only to later find out that another player had been let off the hook ' would have had a huge and potentially-crippling potential lawsuit against the LPGA.
 
Pilgrim, whose background includes drug testing administration in the high levels of track and field, was acutely aware of the potential for trouble here. And to hers, and the LPGAs credit, she wasnt about to breach the protocol even at the expense of angering Sorenstam, the justifiably miffed icon, playing in her last event before stepping away.
 
Sorenstam was upset and puzzled because she had been tested just last month. The results were negative; she was clean. Pilgrim, meanwhile, confirmed there had been players whose name and number for testing had come up two days in a row on more than one occasion in this, the first year of drug testing on the LPGA.
 
Australian Katherine Hull, who played in the final group Saturday, was detained for drug-testing Friday and didnt leave the grounds until 7:30 p.m. She was not able to hit practice balls after her Friday round. Given those circumstances, few were surprised when she bogeyed four of her first six holes Saturday and failed to advance to Sundays final round.
 
Clearly, something needs to be done about repeat testing. The concept of random-testing is sound. But there should be a provision exempting a player who has recently passed from being randomly selected again for a period of, say, four weeks.
 
Then theres the humiliating process of the testing itself. It was described, in detail, by a source who had spoken to one of the players. I will spare you the details. Suffice it to say, it is an extremely dehumanizing procedure.
 
Drug-testing should stay. The baby is OK. But the LPGA needs to throw out the bath water.
 
Finally, while were at the business of solving the LPGAs problems, especially as they relate to ADT, the million-dollar first prize, as official money, has got to go. The amount is fine. But the fact that all of it counts as official money skews the money list. Give the winner the million bucks but make half of it official money and the other half a bonus.
 
The FedEx Cup first-place money doesnt count as official money, nor will all the money earned by the winner of the first Race to Dubai. The LPGA needs to take a cue from the men, in the future, when large, season-ending sums are being doled out to its players.
 
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  • Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

    Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

    Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

    ''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

    ''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

    Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

    ''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

    Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

    Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.