But it was said by an Australian ' Karrie Webb. Her statement? Webb said that, for the LPGA to truly achieve world-class fan status, it needs to have a number of Americans playing good golf. The reason ' it IS based in America and most of the tournaments are in America. If it were based in Australia, it would need to have the majority of good players be Australians. If it were based in Korea, the majority should be Koreans to have the greatest fan support. The same if it were based in Sweden.
I think thats what the LPGA has been needing the last five or six years to create a lot more interest from not just the golf community, but outside the golf community, reasoned Karrie. I think its unfair in a way, but I can see why everyone (in America) has gotten really excited about it.
This year, the American women have taken a step back in the excellence department. The top seven money winners on the LPGA are all from outside the U.S. ' Lorena Ochoa (Mexico), Webb (Australia), Mi Hyun Kim (Korea), Hee-Won Han (Korea), Sean Hwa Lee (Korea), Annika Sorenstam (Sweden) and Jeong Jang (Korea.) Not until you get to No. 8, where Cristi Kerr sits, do you find a Yank.
Thirty-five participants in this years U.S. Open field are from the Asia ' either the South Korea or Japan. There are 36 Koreans playing the Duramed Futures Tour, the LPGAs developmental circuit. Among the great unwashed of the American public, it is getting to be a bit much. It is becoming an issue.
Perhaps it shouldnt be. The Ladies Professional Golf Assn. (note that there is not a single reference to American in the title) is meant to be a tour devoted to the best female golfers ' period. The tour doesnt belong to just the U.S. It is a tour of the world, and as such the members come from all corners of the earth.
OK ' why dont some Americans dont warm up to the Koreans and Japanese? Well, some lament that many, naturally, dont speak much English. Almost all are trying, to various degrees. But because they cant express themselves in English, many Americans dismiss them as they would any outsider.
And, they have very non-Western names - naturally. Shi Hyun Ahn Sean Hwa Lee Jeong Jang Mi-Hyun Kim even Se Ri Pak. When something is different, some people are just naturally leery of it.
And, of course, some people are just naturally prejudiced against anyone who is not American. For those ignorant individuals, these words will NEVER cause a change. For everyone else, maybe a good, frank analysis will be beneficial.
Now, lets examine why we Americans should embrace the Asian players:
Number 1, first and foremost, they are terrific golfers. This is reason enough for most people. But there are some who want to look beyond that for other reasons to like-dislike a person.
How about this ' many are very attractive. Yes, that IS a key. Just the same as Fred Couples or Adam Scott or Tiger Woods are hugely popular with female sports fans, so are attractive ladies popular with males. The image of an Asian woman with a pie face and wearing a costume that looks like pajamas is so terribly out of date. Todays Korean or Japanese golfer is fair of face AND possesses a striking figure. You don't see an overweight Asia golfer. Ai Myazato? Mi-Hyun Kim? Meena Lee? All fit the description.
(The Asians) are young, and they have such a great opportunity, said Se Ri herself, a product of South Korea. This (the LPGA) is the best place for golf ' ladies golf. Its good for them, theyre having their own dream about playing the LPGA. Everybody on the LPGA listens to them, and tries to help them.
At the same time, Se Ri says the Korean women are trying hard to learn English. They are trying hard to learn our culture. But it just doesnt happen in one or two years, as an American in Korea couldnt be expected to learn the Korea culture in one or two years.
In short, if Americans want more Americans at the top of the money list, Americans need to play better golf. Most of the American girls started playing when they were six or seven or eight. Most Asians dont start until they are 12 or 13. Are Asians more naturally athletic? No. Are Asians bigger, more imposing in stature? No, of course not. Does she have more time in each year to practice? Come on ' you know the latitude of Korea and Japan, compared to most cities in the U.S.?
Since I am American, I naturally want to see Americans play well. But even more importantly, I want to see great golf, smart golf. I want to see a woman play the way that I could never have played. And Im proud that the LPGA is a part of the American sports scene.
I understand, though, that America doesnt have a lock on all the great golfers of the world. Golf belongs to all the people of the world. I may have a preference, but may the best woman win!