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Punch Shot: Which player's success most benefits LPGA?

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Cheyenne Woods won her first professional tournament this past week at the Australian Ladies Masters. It wasn't an LPGA event and she's not an LPGA member, but her victory raises the profile of women's golf. With that in mind, which player's success would most benefit the LPGA? Our writers weigh in


By RANDALL MELL

Cheyenne Woods.

This isn’t a prediction that we’re going to see the emergence of a Cheyenne “Tigress” Woods in the women’s game. It’s simply an answer to the question proposed here: Which player’s success would most benefit the LPGA?

It’s a tossup between Woods and Michelle Wie.

The LPGA has a lot of bonafide stars, but it takes a player with some special intangibles to cross golf’s niche boundaries and seize the attention of the world beyond golf, beyond even sports. Those are the rare game changers for a sport.

Woods and Wie have that quality we really can’t define, that “je ne sais quoi” that fascinates us beyond their shot making. For Woods, it’s her name, of course, but it’s more than that. It’s her ethnic makeup, her cover-girl looks and smile, her dynamic presence. Wie is another glamour girl with a dynamic presence. Yes, she’s a lightning rod, both beloved and despised, a powerful chemical equation that makes her irresistible.

The dream scenario for women’s golf would be Woods and Wie emerging as winners and rivals. A final pairing of these two with a championship on the line would do ratings the likes of which women’s golf has never seen.


By JASON SOBEL

From the time she first teed it up in a PGA Tour event at the age of 14, Michelle Wie has been the most polarizing female golfer on the planet.

Though she hasn’t blossomed into the world-beater we’d all believed she would become – and maybe because she hasn’t blossomed into that player – Wie continues to be the single LPGA competitor who can pry spectators away from men’s events and even other sports.

From the early years of waiting for potential to turn into performance, to more recent years of watching her hit pull-hooks and bend over 90 degrees to hit putts, Wie is the rare player from whom we can’t look away. She was built up to the be the game’s next – and perhaps greatest – superstar. These days, fans are either rooting for her to finally fill that role more than a decade later or offering the schadenfreudistic view of rooting for her to fail. Either way, though, they’re compulsively watching.

Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson may each own more talent right now; Cheyenne Woods has the famous bloodlines. But after all these years, after so much tumult throughout her young career, Wie remains the one player whose success would mean the most to the LPGA going forward.



By RYAN LAVNER

Lexi Thompson.

The 19-year-old has game-changing talent.

She’s tall. She’s lean. She’s powerful. And her continued success could have a huge trickle-down effect on the younger generation.

For years, taller girls have been drawn to sports like volleyball, soccer, basketball and lacrosse, but Lexi has made it cool for young girls to swing hard, hit the ball a long ways and wear colorful clothes.

The standout performer in a golfing family, Lexi possesses superstar talent, an intense competitive drive and the power to cut down courses.

She’s John Daly without all of the vices – yes, that’s something the LPGA can market.


By BAILEY MOSIER

With apologies to the rest of the LPGA’s darlings (and there are plenty of them these days), Cheyenne Woods has the potential to elevate the tour and female professional golf in ways no other woman could.

Before I hemorrhage hyperbole over the 23-year-old, let’s be clear about a few things. Woods is not an LPGA member (she’s a second-year pro on the Ladies European Tour), she’s ranked 154th in the world and her win at the Australian Ladies Masters was her first major-tour victory since turning pro in 2012. She’s not exactly a top-10 machine or a major championship connoisseur … yet.

But if and when that day comes, every other female golfer will simply be the Rory McIlroy to her Tiger Woods. Just like her uncle, Cheyenne will not only be the reason the needle moves, she’ll be the needle, and the largest draw to the LPGA.

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