Women's golf needs USA vs Asia team competition

By Randall MellOctober 25, 2012, 6:38 pm

USA vs. Asia.

In women’s golf, there wouldn’t be a more compelling competition.

While there are no plans in the making to pit the Americans against the Far East in a biennial team competition similar to the Solheim Cup, it presents itself as a natural rivalry, as an event that holds the potential to complement the Solheim Cup as a platform to promote the women’s game with unique nationalistic appeal.

With the LPGA in the middle of another successful Asian fall swing, it presents itself as a possibility worth pondering.

The Asians are the most dominant force in women’s golf, and with the Lexus Cup’s demise, they aren’t part of any international team competition that showcases their talents as a region on any stage beyond the normal LPGA schedule.

That’s a shame.

Yes, that will be changing soon enough, with the LPGA getting ready to unveil its first Olympic-style competition as part of its future scheduling, a competition that will feature as many as eight international teams, but that’s a markedly different idea than pitting two international forces against each other.

While some folks might disagree, the feeling here is that there’s a lot of room for more international team competition in women’s golf.

If I’m an Asian corporation with interest in women’s golf, I’m talking to the Solheim family about how they so effectively built the USA vs. Europe competition. I might even be exploring the possibility of a partnership, but I’m definitely approaching the LPGA in exploring a way to bring the Americans and Asians together to play.

There are obstacles for the LPGA, but USA vs. Asia offers another great opportunity to maximize the enormous popularity of women’s golf overseas.

A segment of American women’s golf fans may believe Asian domination has hurt the LPGA, but the facts scream differently.

If not for the explosion of Asian interest in the game, the LPGA might be on its deathbed.

Seven of the 27 title sponsors of LPGA events are Asian companies with six events staged in the Far East. Notably, the LPGA’s largest single revenue stream is from Korean TV agreements. The second largest is from Japanese TV agreements.

Yes, there’s no doubt a successful American contingent is important to the LPGA’s success, but Asian and American success don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The Americans just need to step it up a notch, and a USA vs. Asia competition helps both causes in focusing so much attention on the personalities of players within the competition.

Of course, as the game is playing out today, the Americans would be heavy underdogs.

There’s probably a snickering element of even American golf fans who think the USA would get waxed in any such competition with Asia, and statistical comparisons reveal why, but feisty American women players would relish proving otherwise.

Here’s a quick look at how American and Asian players compare:

• If you took the top 12 Americans in the world rankings today, the USA team would feature No. 2 Stacy Lewis, No. 11 Paula Creamer, No. 14 Cristie Kerr, No. 20 Angela Stanford, No. 21 Brittany Lincicome, No. 23 Lexi Thompson, No. 27 Brittany Lang, No. 34 Morgan Pressel, No. 52 Michelle Wie, No. 63 Jessica Korda, No. 71 Katie Futcher and No. 75 Vicky Hurst.

• The Asian team would feature No. 1 Yani Tseng (Taiwan), No. 3 Na Yeon Choi (South Korea), No. 4 Shanshan Feng (China), No. 5 Inbee Park (South Korea), No. 6 Jiyai Shin (South Korea), No. 8 Ai Miyazato (Japan), No. 9 Mika Miyazato (Japan), No. 10 So Yeon Ryu (South Korea), No. 12 Sun Ju Ahn (South Korea), No. 13 Amy Yang (South Korea), No. 18 I.K. Kim (South Korea) and No. 19 Chi Arimura (Japan).

• The average ranking of the American team: 34.4.

• The average ranking of the Asian team: 9.0.

The competition might be lopsided on paper, but there’s enough American talent to intrigue in the unpredictable match-play format.

Again, there are obstacles, to be sure.

With the LPGA’s new Olympic event, would two international events in the same year work together?

How would the Solheim family react to another team event in opposite years? Would USA vs. Asia pose a threat to the Solheim Cup? The family deserves consideration after all it’s done for the women’s game.

How would the different golf ruling bodies in Asia come to terms? While the Ladies European Tour is the sole governing body for Europe in the Solheim Cup, Asia has different ruling bodies in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China. There would be challenges, but they would be worth pursuing.

There’s also a reasonable concern that the competition might divide American and Asian golf fans in unhealthy ways as rivalries can do, but a genuine emphasis on sportsmanship and higher ideals will make that work as it does so many international competitions.

USA vs. Asia?

Is it a missed opportunity in women’s golf?

With the Asian swing fully engaged, it’s a question worth pondering.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.