PGA TOUR players critical of LPGA language rule

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 LPGAs decision to 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 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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    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.

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    Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

    Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

    Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

    Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

    “I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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    Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

    Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

    “I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

    “We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

    Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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    Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

    This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

    Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

    “My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

    Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

    “Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”