Do you you remember a few years back, when former Ladies Professional Golf Association(LPGA) commissioner Carolyn Bivens wanted to penalize tour players who couldn’t speak English? That was an act of a person who didn’t understand the global economy, and it’s impact on her sport’s future. Did I mention, she is the former commissioner?
Let’s see if you can name the top five female golfers on the LPGA Tour, and their country of origin, as listed in the Rolex Rankings. Positions 1-5 are Yani Tseng, Na Yeon Choi, Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, and Shanshan Feng. Tseng is from Taiwan, Choi and Park are from South Korea, Feng is from China, and of course, Stacy Lewis is American. In fact, Stacy Lewis is the only American in the top ten.
The LPGA make up by country includes only 21 American players, to 59 from Korea, and 42 from Japan. The remainder are from the the other four corners of the globe.
With the strength of the Asian economy versus poorer conditions both at home, and in Europe, is forcing the LPGA to look abroad for sponsors, and players to carry the tour. The absence of Americans who are playing and winning on a week to week basis has, in my opinion, caused a decline in viewers in the local TV market. It was the biggest factor in the decline of Professional Tennis here in the USA, and looks to be having the same effect on Ladies Golf.
The one galvanizing player who could have brought more interest to the American audience was Michelle Wie. When Wie came out on tour, she had the Tiger Woods effect on ladies golf. Her long drives, good looks, and her desire to crack the gender barrier on the PGA Tour brought renewed interest to the LPGA. She was too young, and maybe a little too ambitious. She had no real standing on the LPGA at the time, and the marketing ploy backfired because she couldn’t make a cut. With her loss of confidence, and woes with the flat stick, has faded into obscurity.
The LPGA begins the 2013 schedule in Australia at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. The tournament begins on February 9th in Victoria, Australia. They move to the Honda LPGA Thailand the following week, and on to the HSBC Women’s Championship in Singapore on February 22nd before heading home to the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix.
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