For perspective on this let us take a look back at 1950. That was the first year the LPGA kept a money list. At the end of that season the name at the top was Babe Zaharias. Her earnings: $14,800.
To steal a line from womens tennis, youve come a long way, baby.
Granada, who celebrated her 20th birthday Friday, was still a teenager when the tournament began Thursday. Her mother, Rosa, is her caddie. All of which helps make Julieta Granada the first million dollar baby in womens golf.
Just two years ago Granada was playing in the U.S. Junior Girls. She has come a long way in a short period of time. For more perspective, it should be noted that the first million dollar winners check on the PGA Tour was issued to Jeff Maggert in 1999 for capturing what was then called the Anderson Consulting Match Play.
Are the women catching up?
Maybe. A little. Cable viewership, commissioner Carolyn Bivens tells us, is up 59 per cent from 2005. Page views on LPGA.com are up almost 40 per cent in the same period.
Youre going to hear a lot about our priorities, Bivens said before the ADT Championship had ended. And you are going to see that while we are building on our success, were out front investigating ways in which we can change in order to meet the demands of an ever-changing fast moving marketplace.
Bivens has our attention. To be fair, much of this is because of the groundwork laid by her LPGA predecessor, former commissioner Ty Votaw.
The ADT format was brilliant. Cutting the field from 32 players to 16 after Fridays second round created an instant drama as six women vied for three spots in the playoff hopes of surviving for Sundays million dollar payday.
Lorena Ochoa has emerged as the games new big star ands the LPGAs Player of the Year. Karrie Webb, the first woman to win a million dollars in a season (1996), is its Comeback Player of the Year. Its a credit to where the LPGA is going that the group of Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie, Natalie Gulbis, Morgan Pressel and Ai Miyazato produced a total of zero LPGA wins in 2006--yet womens golf remained compelling throughout.
Last Wednesday Bivens was asked if she had any regrets in her first full year as commissioner. There were several brush fires early on and not all of them are entirely extinguished.
I regret having to call my mom and dad so many times and say, Dont open the newspaper today, youre not going to like it, Bivens said. And Im going to leave it there.
Fact is, the LPGA has enough traction and momentum at the moment to be able to withstand growing pains and missteps here and there.
It really has come a long way.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt