Ladies Golf Outshines PGA Tour


LPGA Tour players Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam did not disappoint in their appearance Down Under this past weekend.
After much jockeying by fellow competitors - let's call them potential spoilsports - Webb and Sorenstam positioned themselves as leaders of the ANZ Australian Ladies Masters then proceeded to lock horns in a four-hole playoff.
In the end it was Sorenstam who denied Webb her fifth consecutive victory at the Gold Coast venue. 'The Main Event' - as Aussie organizers had coined the tournament - turned out to be just that. Two fierce contenders, dueling it out and denying anyone else in the field a victory. Yet, even if spectators and tournament organizers alike were pleased with Sunday's outcome - no one should be more so than LPGA Tour Commissioner Ty Votaw.
For Votaw, who three short months ago made a controversial announcement that the LPGA was reducing the number of events in this year's schedule, the timing could not have been more poignant. 'Annika's and Karrie's duel this weekend would certainly suggest that we are in for more of the same from them this year as we were in 2001,' Votaw commented. 'And that can only mean that they (and the LPGA generally) will continue to live up to our brand promise, which is to present the very best of women's professional golf to our fans. And when that happens, only good things and more excitement will occur.'
Now, as the 2002 season officially begins this week at the Takefuji Classic, it does so under a heightened sense of excitement and expectation of what Webb and Sorenstam have in store for the year.
Finally, Sorenstam and Webb are doing for the Ladies Tour what Tiger did for the men's. Add Se Ri Pak to the mix and Votaw has his own version of Charlie's Angels. It's undeniable that the trio definitely has what the LPGA Tour has been searching for - someone to stir the excitement of spectators much like Nancy Lopez did in the 70's.
The tide has turned. While the LPGA Tour top duo were putting on a first rate show, the PGA Tour's elite were losing matches.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson lost their first matches on Wednesday, while David Toms, Vijay Singh and Davis Love III wrapped up play on Thursday. By the third day Toms was the only top-five player on the 2001 PGA Tour money list to remain standing. By Saturday he fell victim to Kevin Sutherland - ranked 32nd in earnings a year ago.
In the end, all the PGA Tour had going for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship was longevity as Sutherland and Scott McCarron withstood a grueling 36-hole final match - eventually won 1-up by Sutherland.
The Match Play event fizzled before viewers' eyes while half way around the world Ladies golf was making a name for itself.