Listen Up LPGA

By Michael FechterSeptember 5, 2008, 4:00 pm
Let me start by thanking the LPGA for making my job easy. Sometimes I struggle with what might be worthy to commit thought and energy for the voracious reader of columns, blogs and CNN tickers. Golf and comedy usually go as well together as chocolate and liver. That 'Hershey's pt' never caught on like it should.
So, thanks for announcing that all 'foreign-born players' must pass an oral English test to retain their playing privileges on your little tour.
Great rule. Doesn't seem racist or xenophobic to me.
Only, it doesn't go far enough. For now on, lets only let blue-eyed blondes play on the ladies tour. Congrats Laura Baugh, you now have exempt status. You, too, Paris Hilton. We feel certain your bag will match your shoes, which will also match your eyeliner. The tour needs a sense of style and you're the lucky winners.
Wow, all LPGA players must now speak English to play a game that truly transcends cultures and national borders. One language, under God, because the tour is worried about sponsors and TV ratings. Jump away from humanity and our right to speak in the language of our native lands. Will the LPGA ban deaf / mute players in the future because they cannot speak at all?
C'mon, LPGA, if you want TV ratings and you want your sponsors to have 'positive experiences with your players,' lets spice things up a bit. For now on, no one over 30 is allowed to play on tour. No need to come back for a personal appearance, Nancy Lopez. Oh, and Juli Inkster, sorry, but there is no tee time for you.
Better yet, let's set a weight limit for the LPGA. One John Daly in the world of golf is enough. We dont need his female counterpart filling up our Hi-Def TV screens. Or, perhaps the tour can start restricting players caloric and fat intake because, seriously, sponsors relate better to players with a BMI under 25. Dont worry Krispy Kreme, the LPGA Tour will still gladly accept your sponsorship money. But, if a player happens to sneak one of your hot original glazed or, worse, a chocolate iced custard-filled doughnut, shes banished from the tour. No exceptions. Theres not a place for cellulite in todays sponsor-driven LPGA.
If the LPGA is so worried about ratings and sponsors, why not take a cue from the wildly successful Olympics. Today, its all about beach volleyballers with their rock-hard physiques and tattoos. I felt like I was cheating on my girlfriend when I was glued to the set for hours while watching digs and smash overheads for gold.
Just think what bikinis on players will do for the ratings. Lets not just limit it to the players. Lets insist that the announcers also wear bikinis. Yes, that IS Beth Daniel in an aqua marine, tee back from Victoria's Secret. Nice.
The LPGAs prepared statement says that they are instituting this English requirement because 'athletes now have more responsibilities and we want to help their professional development. State Senators from California to the Carolinas are slapping their heads because they failed to think of this tactical genius. For years, theyve been deporting day workers, landscapers and meat packers when they should have been concentrating their efforts on the scourge of professional athletes. Yao Ming, Ichiro and Dice K beware. Youre next!
An LPGA spokeperson said, 'There are more fans, more media and more sponsors. We want to help our athletes as best we can succeed off the golf course as well as on it.' Well, who can argue with that? But, lets take a look at how things got to this point.
For years, the LPGA has struggled to be more significant. And, for the past decade or so, it has done a wonderful job doing just that. Annika and Lorena easily enter into any conversation about the most dominant athletes in their sports. As purses rose, the money attracted more and more players from all over the world. The level of competition rose dramatically to the point where nearly every winner on the LPGA can legitimately say that, for at least one weekend, she was the best golfer in the world.
The LPGA has about 170 active players. Of that number, 120 or so are from outside the U.S. and 45 are from Korea. Currently, 14 of the top 25 money winners are of Korean heritage. Its been said that there are more Kims on tour than there are in a Korean Kim Chee factory. (Kim Chee is a traditional and delicious Korean fermented cabbage appetizer, but you probably already knew that.) And, there are more Korean Parks on tour than there are American theme parks.
In America, you are allowed to say whatever you want as long as it does not incite a riot -- as evidenced by this column. You are allowed to dress as you wish as long as it is not 'indecent' and does not incite riot (Thank you for exercising your rights, Ms. Gulbis and others). And, the last I heard, you are allowed to speak in whatever language you want -- unless you are actually applying for citizenship. If Reilly Rankin wins the U.S. Open next year, Im all for allowing her to conduct her interview in pig Latin.
Let's be honest, the LPGA wants all the foreign-born players to speak English so that the American viewer can relate to them. We love, love, love athletes who have stories. That is why the Olympic coverage spent so much time on the back-story of how this or that pentathlete overcame dyslexia or Tourettes or even dyslexic Tourettes. It helps us relate. And, it adds some colorful words to our vocabulary. We want the story behind the story.
I have actually heard friends complain that they 'don't like' Michael Phelps because he isn't personable enough. Well, he's a swimmer. He swims. Michael Phelps eats, sleeps and swims. And, Korean golfers practice, practice and practice. They also seem to win, win and win.
So, the LPGA wants all the foreign-born players to speak English. Lets also make a rule that all the American players must learn Korean, or French, or that bastardized English they speak in England whenever they play a tournament on foreign soil. It's only fair play, which is something we are so proud of in golf.
Personally, I would love to speak Korean. I would never get shorted again on Kim Chee by my Korean produce vendor, a man who, oddly enough, is actually named Kim Chee.
Perhaps the problem is that the LPGA has never heard of something called a 'translator.' It has been popular in little places like the United Nations for years. During my stint as lead investigative reporter during The Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika, I made friends with a Korean-American who offered to translate for me whenever I wanted to interview a Korean player. C'mon, LPGA, with the present number of Korean players on tour, you can certainly afford her services. Just take the whole salary out of Seon Hwa Lee's next championship check.
So what if Americans have only won six times on tour this year. Golf is a global game. Get used to it. The American men's Olympic basketball team has and they did just fine. It's a big orb out there with people of many skin colors and many languages. It's one of the great beauties of humanity -- a thing we call 'diversity,' which should be celebrated, not squashed.
Is it really that important to hear a Korean-born winner on your tour in 2009 say in halting English ''? Lord knows, the gent that runs the Mexican food truck hates it when I speak in Spanish that way. He gives me something different each time I ask for a Burrito Vegetarian, and it has only served to increase my appreciation of foods I can neither pronounce nor recognize. I dont know what kind of a plant carnitas comes from, but it makes for a hell of a burrito!
But, thanks, LPGA. In the days without a young George Wallace, a Sen. Joseph McCarthy or even Andrew Dice Clay, you have made us Americans look racist, arrogant and short sighted. Thanks for making us appear additionally mean-spirited, shallow, driven by consumerism and xenophobic.
By the way, in case an actual employee of the LPGA takes note of my words, I am available to do your P.R. damage control.

Email your thoughts to Michael Fechter
Editor's footnote: Mr. Fechter's opinions are not necessarily those of GOLF CHANNEL. As noted previously by Golf, Mr. Fechter is a humorist and a jackass. His Spanish is minimal and his Korean is non-existent.
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    Lincicome grouped with two rookies in Barbasol

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 9:54 pm

    Brittany Lincicome will tee it up with a pair of rookies when she makes her first start in a PGA Tour event Thursday at the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

    Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, is scheduled to go off the 10th tee at 9:59 a.m. ET in the first round with Sam Ryder, 28, and Conrad Shindler, 29. They’re off the first tee Friday at 2:59 p.m. ET

    Lincicome will become just the sixth woman to play in a PGA Tour event, joining Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie.

    “The first three or four holes, I’ll be a nervous wreck, for sure,” Linicome said.



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    Lincicome thrilled by reception from male pros

    By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 8:31 pm

    Brittany Lincicome wondered how PGA Tour pros would greet her when she arrived to play the Barbasol Championship this week.

    She wondered if there would be resentment.

    She also wondered how fans at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky., would receive her, and if a social media mob would take up pitchforks.

    “I can’t stop smiling,” Lincicome said Tuesday after her first practice round upon arriving. “Everyone has been coming up to me and wishing me luck. That means a lot.”

    PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, husband of LPGA pro Gerina Piller, welcomed her immediately.

    Other pros sought her out on the practice putting green.

    She said she was also welcomed joining pros at a table in player dining.

    Fans have been stopping her for autographs.

    “It has been an awesome reception,” said Dewald Gouws, her husband, a former long-drive competitor. “I think it’s put her much more at ease, seeing the reception she is getting. There’s a lot of mutual respect.”

    Lincicome, 32, wasn’t sure if she would be playing a practice round alone Tuesday morning, but when she made her way to the first tee, Domenico Geminiani was there, just about to go off.

    He waved Lincicome over.

    “He said, `Hey, Brittany, do you want to join me?’” Gouws said. “Come to find out, Dom’s a pretty cool guy.”

    Geminiani made it into the field as a Monday qualifier.

    “The two of us were both trying to figure things out together,” Lincicome said.

    Keene Trace will play to 7,328 yards on the scorecard. That’s more than 800 yards longer than Highland Meadows, where Lincicome finished second at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic last weekend. Keene Trace was playing even longer than its listed yardage Tuesday, with recent rains softening it.

    Nicknamed “Bam Bam,” Lincicome is one of the longest hitters in the women’s game. Her 269.5 yard average drive is 10th in the LPGA ranks. It would likely be dead last on the PGA Tour, where Brian Stuard (278.2) is the last player on the stats list at No. 201.

    “I think if I keep it in the fairway, I’ll be all right,” Lincicome said.

    Lincicome is an eight-time LPGA winner, with two major championships among those titles. She is just the sixth woman to compete in a PGA Tour event, the first in a decade, since Michelle Wie played the Reno-Tahoe Open, the last of her eight starts against the men.

    Lincicome will join Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Wie in the elite ranks.

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    What are Lincicome’s expectations?

    She would love to make the cut, but . . .

    “Just going to roll with it and see what happens,” she said. “This is once in a lifetime, probably a one-and-done opportunity. I’m just going to enjoy it.”

    Lincicome grew up playing for the boys’ golf team at Seminole High on the west coast of Florida. She won a couple city championships.

    “I always thought it would be cool to compete against the guys on the PGA Tour,” Lincicome said. “I tend to play more with the guys than women at home. I never would have gone out and told my agent, `Let’s go try to play in a PGA Tour event,’ but when Tom Murray called with this opportunity, I was really blown away and excited by it. I never in a million years thought I would have this opportunity.”

    Tom Murray, the president of Perio, the parent company of Barbasol and Pure Silk, invited Lincicome to accept one of the tournament’s sponsor exemptions. Lincicome represents Pure Silk.

    Lincicome said her desire to play a PGA Tour event is all about satisfying her curiosity, wanting to know how she would stack up at this level. She also wants to see if the experience can help take her to the next level in the women’s game.

    As a girl growing up, she played Little League with the boys, instead of softball with the girls. She said playing the boys in golf at Seminole High helped her get where she is today.

    “The guys were better, and it pushed me to want to be better,” Lincicome said. “I think playing with the guys [on the PGA Tour], I will learn something to take to LPGA events, and it will help my game, for sure.”

    Lincicome has been pleased that her fellow LPGA pros are so supportive. LPGA winner Kris Tamulis is flying into Kentucky as moral support. Other LPGA pros may also be coming in to support her.

    The warm fan reception Lincicome is already getting at Keene Trace matters, too.

    “She’s already picked up some new fans this week, and hopefully she will pick up some more,” Gouws said. “I don’t think she’s putting too much expectation on herself. I think she really does just want to have fun.”

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    Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

    By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

    There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

    Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

    She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

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    Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

    Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

    “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

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    Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

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    “All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”