Players Rebuff Stephensons Remarks
'She has her own opinion. I just don't like the fact she picked on Asians and I'm Asian,' Park said. 'She should come and play with me. I have great emotions. She made her points and if that's how she feels, well. ... Everybody has their own opinions and Jan stated her own and that's what was published.'
Stephenson's comments appear in an article in the November edition of 'Golf Magazine,' due out Tuesday.
'This is probably going to get me in trouble, but the Asians are killing our tour. Absolutely killing it,' she told the magazine. 'Their lack of emotion, their refusal to speak English when they can speak English. They rarely speak.
'We have two-day pro-ams where people are paying a lot of money to play with us, and they say, 'Hello and goodbye.' Our tour is predominantly international and the majority of them are Asian. They've taken it over.'
Annika Sorenstam, the world's No. 1 player, called the comments 'pathetic.'
'Jan has done a lot for this tour, and I think the tour has done a lot for her,' Sorenstam told the Houston Chronicle. 'We have a lot to be thankful for out here. It's not just a single person's effort. This tour has grown. I think the LPGA is stronger than ever, and I think as an international member it's important to have international players because it shows this is a world tour.
'I totally disagree with what she said. It's sad that it was said, and I enjoy playing with Se Ri [Pak]. All the Asian players have done a lot for the tour and raised the level of golf, which is why we're here. It's pretty much a pathetic comment.'
Four of the top six money winners on the LPGA Tour are Asians, and Koreans have as many wins this year (six) as American players. Take into account the three wins by Taiwan's Candie Kung and Asians have won nine tournaments this year.
'Part of it I think is true, but we have a lot of sponsorships from Asia, like Samsung, but with the language barrier, a few of us have that problem,' Kung told the Chronicle. 'That's because we're coming from a different country. I'm not worrying about it that much.'
Stephenson, who for years has said the LPGA should use sex as a marketing weapon, also said lesbians on the tour are harmful.
'I used to get teased by the girls that I didn't need a woman problem because I always had a man problem,' she said. 'They never really bothered me, because they knew I was straight. Society is more open now about gay relationships, but it does hurt the tour. It hurts with sponsors. But if you had two gorgeous girls who were gay, I don't think that would hurt.'
Fellow Aussie Rachel Teske told the paper that the comments were disappointing because the LPGA has battled those issues for years.
'We have great players out here, and all the girls on tour are playing so much better and so well,' she said. 'It doesn't matter where you come from. The girls from Korea and Asia actually bring a lot of strength to our tour because diversity is one of our strengths.'
Pak, who led the World Championship after Friday's round, was noncommittal, saying she doesn't believe Stephenson meant what she said.
'There are a lot of talented players coming from all different kinds of countries,' Pak said. 'The LPGA is getting better. I think it's a better thing for the LPGA.'
Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage
NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:
Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)
Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)
Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.
1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.
Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.
Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.
“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”
It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.
Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.
“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”
It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.
Tweets by GCTigerTracker
McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.
McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.
But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.
“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.
“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.
“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”
McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.
“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”
McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.