PITTSFORD, NEW YORK | These women
are just too nice.
The local dailies in Rochester and nearby
Buffalo were well represented, but none
of the New York City papers, including
the New York Times, bothered to send a
reporter to cover a major golf event being
contested in their own state. There were
far more members of the foreign press
corps, including large contingents from
China, Japan and South Korea, an area of
the world that has 38 players in a field of
150, close to 25 percent.
There were 71 Americans entered,
but aside from USA Today and the Miami
Herald – the hometown paper of defend-
ing champion Kerr – the eyes of the U.S.
sporting press were focused elsewhere,
as usual. The NBA draft, baseball, a pos-
sible NFL labor contract, even soccer, of
all things. The day before this tournament
started, the Times ran a story
about Woods not playing
in his own event next
week, but not a word
previewing the LPGA
The LPGA has always struggled to find
its niche, but never more so than now. U.S.
title sponsors are not easy to find, and it
gets even tougher during a time of economic instability. There are yawning gaps
in the 24-event schedule and, from an
American perspective, far too many events
being contested overseas and not enough
in the country where the LPGA began.
Next year, more than half are expected to
be played on foreign sod.
What would help?
“I think it’s great that we’ve got play-
ers from all over the world playing,” said
Stacy Lewis, an American who won the
first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco,
in April. “But I think our Tour right now
needs some Americans to step up and
play well, especially to get more events in
the U.S. We’ve got the talent to compete,
it’s just stepping up and doing it.”
One player who once seemed to have
the capability to achieve universal super-
stardom was Michelle Wie, a Woods-like
prodigy who has never truly fulfilled the
potential she showed in competing and
nearly winning several major champion-
ships even before she was 16. She is 21
now, still a student at Stanford, while also
trying to be a full-time golfer.
Her long-time coach, David Leadbetter,
keeps saying that when Wie focuses fully
on her golf, she once again will live up to
the promise of her spectacular teenage
years. For the often ignored LPGA, that
would be very nice, indeed. l