LPGAs English-only policy draws criticism

By Associated PressAugust 28, 2008, 4:00 pm
NORTON, Mass. -- Imagine what could have happened to Angel Cabrera if he belonged to a tour that required its players to speak English.
 
A powerful Argentine who rose from an impoverished childhood, he won the U.S. Open last year at Oakmont by holding off Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. In the hours after the trophy presentation, Cabrera made his way through a maze of media interviews in Spanish with an interpreter at his side.
 
Under a new LPGA policy effective next year, Cabrera might have been suspended. Or, he might not have played at all if an official on that tour deemed he was ineffective in English.
 
You dont have to speak English to play golf, Cabrera said Thursday in Spanish, joining a chorus of male players perplexed by the LPGA's decision to be punish women golfers for not speaking English in pro-ams, trophy presentations and media interviews.
 
K.J. Choi of South Korea recalled his rookie season on the PGA TOUR in 2000, when his English was so limited that he often got lost going to the golf course because he couldnt read street signs. He wasnt comfortable enough to speak English for five years, despite constant study.
 
Asked about the LPGAs policy, he shook his head.
 
It is a difficult situation, Choi said in English. It is good for them to help players learn English. When I learned English, I became a better player. But to suspend them? I dont think so.
 
And if the PGA TOUR had a policy like that in 2000?
 
I would have had to go home, Choi said.
 
Golfweek magazine first reported the LPGAs new English-only policy Monday, leaving the tour scrambling to explain and defend itself over the past several days as the issue has stayed on the forefront of public discussion.
 
The LPGA didnt get this much attention when Annika Sorenstam said she was retiring.
 
We have been puzzled, if not surprised, by some of the reactions, said deputy commissioner Libba Galloway, who previously was the LPGAs top attorney. We see this as a pro-international move.
 
Galloway said title sponsors offer individual endorsement deals to players' Sorenstam has a longtime deal with Kraft'and players who cant interact in pro-ams or with sponsors because of limited English are hurting themselves financially.
 
The LPGA is still working on the policy, which will be delivered to players at the end of the year. She said its professional development group is consulting with outside experts, and the LPGA will administer the evaluation itself.
 
Players wont have to be fluent, rather what Galloway described as effective.
 
You have to interact effectively with your pro-am partners. You need to be able to do media interviews. And you need to give a winners acceptance speech in English, she said. They must speak at a level that effectively accomplishes those three things.
 
Strangely absent during this debate is LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens. According to Golfweek, Bivens held a meeting with only the South Koreans last week in Portland, which led some to believe they were being singled out.
 
Galloway said Bivens was returning from the West Coast on Monday and Tuesday, and I drew the long straw to handle media inquiries.
 
The LPGA for the last three years has offered language training through a Rosetta Stone online program and has offered a cross-cultural program for its international players.
 
But there has never been a mandate until now.
 
Its not a sign that its not working, Galloway said. What were seeing is that a handful of players dont speak to the level they need to be.
 
But if only a few players struggle with English, why develop a policy equipped with a penalty?
 
Were not just looking at the LPGA as it is now, Galloway said. Were looking at the future of the LPGA. As you well know, we have a large international membership. All indications are its not going to get smaller.
 
Se Ri Pak was the only South Korean on the LPGA in 1998, when she inspired a nation with her victory in the U.S. Womens Open. Now, there are 45 players from South Korea on tour'two of them won majors this year'and 121 international players representing 26 countries.
 
International players have won 19 of 24 events this year'six by Lorena Ochoa of Mexico, seven by Asians. Most of them are capable in English, including LPGA champion Yani Tseng of Taiwan and U.S. Womens Open champion InBee Park of South Korea.
 
We believe so much in what were doing, Galloway said. If were getting any criticism, its coming from outside the organization. Its not coming from the players, and those are the people to whom it applies.
 
Padraig Harrington, who has won the last two majors, wondered if the LPGA is taking on too much. Like others, he wants to know how much English a player is supposed to learn to be effective.
 
Surely if you can say, Hello, thats English. Is that good enough? he said. Who draws the line about how many words youve got to know in English? What if you have a person who genuinely struggles with learning a new language; they have a learning disability? Thats tough to ask somebody with a learning disability, who might have found golf as the saving grace in their life, to ask them to learn a different language or else you cant play.
 
Theres a lot of different issues to that, he said. Its a big step to actually put it out there.
 
Cabrera understands the importance of speaking English, and he realizes it only hurts him. He said he has a good relationship with Woods, but because of the language barrier, it always will be limited.
 
What troubles the big Argentine is why language should affect performance inside the ropes.
 
I remember what (Roberto) de Vicenzo once said to me, Cabrera said. If you shoot under 70, everybody will understand you. If you dont, they wont want to talk to you, anyway.
 
A few months ago, Choi had finished a brief interview when a reporter tried to say, Thank you in Korean, but told him he forgot the word. Choi laughed and playfully shared this thought with his agent.
 
I taught him one word seven years ago and he still doesnt remember, he said. And he expects me to learn his entire language?
 
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    Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

    By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

    SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

    Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

    Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

    ''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


    Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


    Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

    Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

    ''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

    Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

    Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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    Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

    Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

    The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

    Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

    As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    "Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

    Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

    "We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

    Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

    "You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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    Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

    There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

    No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

    On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

    The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    "It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

    It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    "My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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    Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

    Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

    Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

    What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

    Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

    Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

    Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

    Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.