Setting the agenda for the week ahead with five questions for tournament golf at large ...
So who’s going to pay back the LPGA for paying it forward?
If you believe in karma, or what goes around comes around, the LPGA’s future ought to be bright.
This week the LPGA devotes itself to making the world a better place at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.
The 134 pros playing the U.S. start to the tour schedule are donating the event’s entire $1 million purse to LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf and player-designated charities.
It’s a significant sacrifice because this isn’t the rich men’s game.
PGA Tour pros will play for more than $280 million in prize money over 47 events this year. The LPGA will play for $42 million in 24 events.
The last player to hold onto his tour card on the PGA Tour last year made $786,000. The LPGA’s equivalent made $80,000.
LPGA pros can’t afford to be this charitable, and that’s what makes this event all the more remarkable. A $1 million purse typically pays out $150,000 to the winner in LPGA events. A rookie or rank-and-file player could break through to win the Founders Cup and not receive what would be the biggest paycheck of her life, a payday that could turn her career around. A breakthrough in Phoenix will be for greater causes.
Real giving hurts, and nobody will know that better than a rookie or rank-and-file player, should they win this event.
The LPGA’s making the world a better place, and if what goes around comes around, more than a few business entities will step forward as title sponsors next year to make the LPGA a better place.
Who’s the favorite at the inaugural RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup?
Yani Tseng’s the hottest golfer, male or female, on the planet.
This week she is going for her fifth worldwide title of the year, her second LPGA title this season.
She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year last season, holds the No. 1 ranking in the women’s game and will be the defending champ when the season’s first women’s major is played next month.
Tseng is the hands-down favorite to win.
Can Nick Watney win the Transitions Championship for back-to-back titles?
If Watney wins at Innisbrook outside Tampa, he’ll be the first player to win back-to-back events on the PGA Tour calendar since Tiger Woods won the Buick Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in the summer of 2009.
Watney’s moving up in the world, specifically from No. 31 in the world rankings last week to No. 15 this week with his victory at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.
His swing coach, Butch Harmon, will tell you Watney’s improved short game has much to do with making him a more consistent threat.
Can Watney win again this week? Absolutely. He seems to be in the hunt every time he tees it up lately. Here’s his record this year:
- Farmers Insurance Open, T-6
- Waste Management Phoenix Open, T-5
- AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, T-6
- WGC-Accenture Match Play, T-9
- WGC-Cadillac Championship, Win.
How’s the future of golf looking?
Watney, winner of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, is 29.
Dustin Johnson, who dueled Watney down the stretch at Doral, is 26.
Martin Kaymer, who joins Watney in this week’s Transitions Championship field, is also 26.
The average age of the top eight on the leaderboard going into Sunday’s final round at Doral was 28.5.
“Golf is in a great place,” Harmon said. “We’ve got so many great young players all over the world. We’ve got them right here in the States; it just seems that the world rankings have shown off more of the Europeans than the Americans. That’s because they’ve played well. But we have a lot of great young players over here, and I think you’re going to see that in the majors this year.”
Exactly how young could the new PGA Tour look at Innisbrook?
How about 17 years old?
Italy’s Matteo Manassero isn’t a PGA Tour member, but he’ll be playing the Transitions Championship on a sponsor’s exemption. He became the youngest winner of a European Tour event when he won the Castello Masters in Spain at 17 years and 188 days old. If he wins the Transitions, he’ll become the youngest winner of a PGA Tour event at 17 years and 355 days old.
A pipe dream? Manassero eliminated world No. 10 Steve Stricker and world No. 26 Charl Schwartzel in the Accenture Match Play Championship before being eliminated by the eventual champion, Luke Donald. Manassero is the No. 55 player in the world.
Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell