LPGA Ahead of the Curve in Global Golf

By Associated PressNovember 16, 2004, 5:00 pm
2004 ADT ChampionshipWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Thanks to Vijay Singh winning nine times, foreign-born players established a PGA Tour record by winning more than half of the years tournaments.
All that means is that the men are finally catching up with the women.
Were already there, Meg Mallon said Tuesday on the practice range at Trump International, an appropriately named course for the LPGA Tour to end its season. There are good tours in Europe and Japan, but they send their best to the United States. Weve been international for over 10 years.
Heading into the ADT Championship, international players have won 20 out of 31 times on the LPGA Tour. Annika Sorenstam of Sweden has seven of those trophies, with the rest split among players from South Korea, England, Scotland, Mexico, Australia and the Philippines.
But thats nothing new.
There were 24 foreign-born winners last year. The dominance was really pronounced in 2000 when Americans combined to win only six LPGA events. In fact, you have to go back to 1997 to find the last time Americans won the majority of the LPGA tournaments.
Many of our players long for the day when the LPGA Tour looked the same and talked the same and came from a similar junior golf background, commissioner Ty Votaw said. But those days are over.
Is that bad for golf?
Votaw doesnt think so. And neither does Arnold Palmer.
The King gave another passionate speech Monday night at the World Golf Hall of Fame. Palmer praised the diverse class of inductees that included the first Canadian player (Marlene Stewart Streit), the first black player (Charlie Sifford) and the first Japanese player to win on the PGA Tour (Isao Aoki).
The future of this game is international, Palmer said. Its something we have to recognize and enjoy.
Palmer helped to get that process started.
At a time when the only golf that mattered was played in the United States, he traveled to the British Open in 1960 in pursuit of the Grand Slam. Palmer finished second, then won the claret jug the next two years. But his presence helped restore prominence to the Open and generated excitement throughout the world of golf.
What was the reason for going? It was to create a relationship I thought the world needed, Palmer said.
The U.S. tours now are a melting pot of success.
The ADT Championship features 18 foreign-born players among a field of 30 at Trump International. That isnt much different from two weeks ago at the Tour Championship, where 15 players from 11 countries joined 16 Americans at East Lake.
The mistake is suggesting that American golf is on the slide.
Instead, its time to treat golf like an Olympics medal table.
True, international players won 26 of the 48 events on the PGA Tour. But the United States still accounted for 22 titles, twice as many as any other country. Fiji won nine (all by Singh), while Australia had seven.
American women won 11 times on the LPGA Tour, followed by Sweden (eight) and South Korean (four).
The only fear is that while golf has gone global like never before, it is killing the international tours.
More and more Europeans are playing a full schedule on the PGA Tour ' Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Luke Donald and Darren Clarke, soon to be joined by Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington. Adam Scott is skipping the Australian Open to play in the Skins Game. Shigeki Maruyama of Japan has a home in Los Angeles and a membership at Riviera.
The World Golf Championships are played overseas once a year (sometimes less), and Americans always get singled out for poor attendance. Why bother going to Ireland or Spain or Australia for a $7 million purse when they can go to Charlotte or Dallas and play for almost as much?
But while the LPGA Tour is taking great players from their native tours, it also is giving back.
The LPGA, which has a lot more wiggle room in its schedule, will be played in seven countries next year ' the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, France, England and two new tournaments in Mexico. The next stop could be China.
Votaw presided over the first World Congress of Womens Golf meeting this spring, and said there was concern that the LPGA Tour was going to make obsolete the smaller, less lucrative Ladies European Tour and the Japan LPGA.
I want there to be a strong LET. I want there to be a strong JLPGA, Votaw said. I dont mean this to be condescending, but thats where players are developed. And thats good for all of us. We will then be smart in bringing those golfers back to their home regions to develop it further.
That doesnt mean the LPGA Tour, no matter how successful its foreign-born stars become, is going to disrupt its U.S. schedule to crisscross the globe.
The most competitive golf is in the United States. Thats why the best players from all over the world are here.
And they are here to stay.
Related links:
  • ADT Championship - Full Coverage
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    Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

    The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

    Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

    The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

    Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

    "If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

    "Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

    "In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

    "I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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    Wallace holds off Olesen to win BMW International

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

    PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

    Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

    ''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

    Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

    Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

    ''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

    Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

    England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

    Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

    Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

    By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

    Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

    Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

    This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

    Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

    Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

    Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

    “I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

    “It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

    The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

    The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

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    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.