Twitter: GeoffShac
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You must expect anything in golf. A stranger comes through, he's keen for a game, he seems affable enough, and on the eighth fairway he turns out to be an idiot.
ALISTAIR COOKE


    

Wednesday
Sep032008

"All he said was, 'Roc, I didn't pick you,' He didn't give a reason"

Some nice Ryder Cup reporting today, starting with Mike Dudurich talking to Rocco about not getting selected.

"All he said was, 'Roc, I didn't pick you,' He didn't give a reason," Mediate said. "I'm extremely sad and extremely disappointed."
Barker Davis takes exception with the J.B. Holmes selection, offering this:
Still, it's difficult to see Holmes' popularity in the Bluegrass State outweighing his lack thereof in the team room. If a random sampling of PGA players named the three least-liked guys on tour, Holmes might finish second to Rory Sabbatini. Why? Because the 26-year-old has no social skills. His boorish behavior and poor personal hygiene are running jokes on the PGA Tour. Given that Azinger was supposed to be a more connected captain than recent out-of-touch U.S. skippers Hal Sutton and Tom Lehman, the selection of Holmes seems almost comically misinformed.

"Personality matters," Azinger said at Tuesday's news conference. "If you have guys that are not getting along or whatever, it makes a difference."
Jill Painter isn't too wild about Hunter Mahan's selection after his critical comments in Golf Magazine.
The selection of Mahan would have been like Barack Obama making Hillary Clinton his running mate. She ripped him during her campaign, which makes it challenging to turn around and join his team. She supports Obama now, we get that. He won the Democratic nomination. Mahan can support the U.S. Ryder Cup, too. He just didn't need to be part of the team.

"I think we have all moved on from those comments," Mahan said on Tuesday's Cup conference call. "I'm just looking forward to the Ryder Cup. I'm going to enjoy every second of it."

How's he going to enjoy it if he feels like a slave?

On the Euro side, Larry Dorman notes this about Ian Poulter's selection:

Poulter will be under more pressure to perform at the Ryder Cup than any player in the recent history of the event. Everything he does will be scrutinized in light of his friendship with Faldo and the suspicion, vehemently denied by both, that Poulter had been assured of a berth on the team even before he decided to pass up the Johnnie Walker Championship last week at Gleneagles, Scotland, to play at the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston, where he missed the cut.
Patrick Kidd talks to Sam Torrance, who explains (with examples) why Captain Faldo is making a huge mistake only carrying one vice-captain.
"I was a wee bit surprised that he has only gone with himself and Olly [Jose Maria Olazabal, the only named vice-captain]," Torrance, the 2002 Europe captain, said. "He wants to gain all the information himself about the players but he can't do that, he won't have the time.
In an unbylined Sporting Life piece, Darren Clarke tries to absolve Ian Poulter of blame but makes sure to note that Nick Faldo changed his selection criteria.
Elaborating on his belief that Faldo did not hold true to his initial plans for his captain's picks, Clarke added: "Earlier in the year, Nick had stated that he wanted his players to be on form, he wasn't going to pay particular attention to the rankings.
"I thought I was on good form, my record this year has been a couple of good wins and lots of top 10s, but unfortunately he changed his mind, and you know, I've got to bank with that.
Tuesday
Sep022008

"We've got the best product with a world presence, but we can make it better instead of waiting for it to be fixed."

Jim McCabe offers this from Deutsche Bank CEO Seth Waugh:

Waugh's assessment of what the economic climate means for the PGA Tour and the FedEx Cup in particular: "The good news is, the deals for four- to six-years are signed. I'm a little more optimistic that we'll get through this, but if the contracts were not signed and were up, you'd lose a lot of folks. We've got the best product with a world presence, but we can make it better instead of waiting for it to be fixed."

Considering he's a student of the game and a shrewd guy, wouldn't you love to know what exactly he'd like to see fixed?

Tuesday
Sep022008

"It's something we are dumfounded by"

It was only a matter of time before some of the LPGA Tour event sponsors either (A) distanced themselves from the English proficiency mess or (B) used the opportunity to suggest Carolyn Bivens needs to go. As reported by Michael Bush of AdAge, it appears the folks at State Farm took both options.

Saying it was "flabbergasted" by the Ladies Professional Golf Association's new policy requiring "effective communication in English on the part of all of our Tour members," State Farm is urging the group to reconsider -- or insurer may reconsider its sponsorship.
"It's something we are dumfounded by," said Kip Biggs, media-relations specialist at the insurer, which is a general sponsor of the league as well as of the State Farm Classic Tournament in Springfield, Ill. "We don't understand this and don't know why they have done it, and we have strongly encouraged them to take another look at this."
And considering that Bivens is suggesting that the rule is something required to survive in the modern business world, this would seem to suggest that she never actually gave those people a voice in determining whether penalties were really necessary:
Ann Wool, senior VP-director at Ketchum Sports network, said it was a mistake for the LPGA not to talk to its sponsors before announcing the policy. "When making a major policy decision it's always wise to notify your sponsors," Ms. Wool said. "I can only speculate that [the LPGA] didn't think this was going to be such a controversial issue, otherwise they probably would have. It was probably a bad move not to notify their sponsors."
I'll say. Let's see how many more sponsors distance themselves from the policy, or even better, how many come forward to support it.

Tuesday
Sep022008

Old Macdonald Update

Matty G takes time out from his ambushing bloated losers with sleeves of logoed balls to file a productive piece on the status of Bandon's Old Macdonald, and even includes a few photos of their "Hell" bunker.

Tuesday
Sep022008

"He has played six matches in his two appearances and won once."

Even picking Chad Campbell over Rocco or Woody could not excite the scribblers. They clearly are feeling sorry for Captain Azinger, and you can't blame him for being "subdued" as Bob Harig noted in running through the choices and considering the Captain's options.

Gary Van Sickle writes, "you didn't think Paul Azinger was going to let Nick Faldo one-up him when it came to making surprising wild-card picks, did you?" Then Van Sickle goes on to say Azinger pretty much had no choice but to pick the four he selected.

Tim Rosaforte sums up the misery best:

While Nick Faldo had five obvious contenders for his two picks, the general consensus coming in over the weekend was that Zinger had no players for four picks, with even rookie Kevin Streelman jumping into the late mix.
Steve Elling says there was one bright spot to the funeral:
...in the moments before Azinger announced his four captain's picks, officials scrambled to replace a press release that listed the veterans who had already qualified for the team as having compiled a combined career record of 18-334-15 in the matches. No question, after losing five of the last six cups, the American anchor men have failed, but not quite to that spectacular degree.
John Hopkins wasn't quite so kind about the Campbell selection, point out that he has "a dire Ryder Cup record. He has played six matches in his two appearances and won once."

But Brian Hewitt finds a bright spot, if there was one:
American Ryder Cup players occupy seven of the first 11 and nine of the first 14 spots in the point standings. Those numbers speak directly to the importance of current form especially in light of the criticism that not one of the six 12 members on the American squad with Ryder Cup experience have winning career records in the event.
Tuesday
Sep022008

"LPGA 투어 일원은 세계적인 기업의 고위급 행정관과 한 쌍이 되었다. 어느 쪽도 아니에는 그들의 첫번째 언어로 영어가 없었다. 그들은 동일한 국가에서 이지 않았다."

The great branding never stops when it comes to the LPGA Tour's desire to penalize Korean players who can't tell their pro-am partners the difference between a Pro V1x and Platinum One, with Lorena Ochoa calling the new policy "a little drastic.”

Evan Rothman at Golfweek.com offers an excellent day-by-day primer on the key phrases Korean players will want to learn. Here's his Wednesday pro-am round list:

Wednesday: Pro-am round(to male pro-am partners)

“You’re in the [insert partner’s profession here] business? How fascinating.”“Nice drive. . . . Does your husband play golf?”

"Hit it, Alice.”

"You got all of that one!”

“A swing tip? You’re standing too close to the ball . . . after your shot.”

“Yes, Lorena really is as nice as everyone says. . . . No, I haven’t met Tiger Woods.”

“Another tip? Take two weeks off, then quit.”

“I don’t understand why Michelle Wie isn’t playing out here, either. I guess you’d have to ask her.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll get it back on the next hole.”

“Don’t sell yourself short. You’re a tremendous slouch.”

(at round’s end)            
“Hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort?”

“Sorry, I don’t give out my phone number.”
And finally, because I always feel the need to give back, I offer this Korean translation for the SAT like-example provided by the Commissioner for learning English. To refresh your memory, here's the brilliance in English and Korean:
An LPGA Tour member was paired with a senior level executive of a global corporation. Neither had English as their first language. They were not from the same country. However, English was their common language, their common bond. They were able to effectively communicate in English throughout the entire 18-hole round, and to this day they are in discussions for a sponsorship opportunity. This would not have been possible if they could not effectively communicate in English. The player was equipped to harness this potential earnings opportunity. This is what the LPGA wants for its members. To be as prepared as possible to succeed both on and off the course.

LPGA 투어 일원은 세계적인 기업의 고위급 행정관과 한 쌍이 되었다. 어느 쪽도 아니에는 그들의 첫번째 언어로 영어가 없었다. 그들은 동일한 국가에서 이지 않았다. 그러나, 영어는 그들의 공통 언어, 그들의 일반적인 유대이었다. 그들은 효과적으로 둥근 전체 18 구멍을 통하여 영어로 교통할 수 있고, 후원 기회를 위한 면담에 현재까지 있다. 이것은 그들이 영어로 효과적으로 교통할 수 없던 경우에 가능하지 않ㄹ을. 선수는 이 잠재적인 수입 기회를 마구를 채우기 위하여 갖춰졌다. 이것은 LPGA가 그것의 일원을 위해 원하는 무슨이다. 둘 다 이따금 성공하게 가능한 한 준비되는 이기 위하여 과정.

See how easy it is to deal with the two languages.

Tuesday
Sep022008

Tommy Bolt, R.I.P.

Golfweek reports the passing of the golfing great.

For the best of Bolt, check out his Golf Digest My Shot from six years ago.


Tuesday
Sep022008

Brand Lady Memo: "We do not view this as punitive but rather as underscoring the importance of a core value on which the LPGA was founded: engaging and entertaining our customers and fans."

Thanks to the reader who passed this along, and do make sure you hit the link for the "background" on the policy.

To:         LPGA Constituents
From:    LPGA Commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens
Date:     Sept. 2, 2008
Subj:     LPGA overview regarding the effective communication in English policy

A great deal has been written this past week about the LPGA’s initiative to help members attain minimal English language skills. For those of you who want more details and background, please go to http://www.lpga.com/content_1.aspx?pid=17137&mid=4 where you will find an extensive overview. Please feel free to respond and offer comments.

Let's start with a key point of clarity: we are not suggesting, nor will we implement, an “English only” policy. The LPGA does not, nor will we ever, require English fluency, or even proficiency, from our international players.

As a U.S.-based tour, more than 65% of our events are held in our home country. For those events, we need our members to attain a level of communication in English so they can:

A.     deliver an enjoyable experience in the pro-am events at tournaments,
         which are the lifeblood of the LPGA business model;
B.     conduct their post-round interviews in English for the media; and

Sounds like English-only to me!

C.     deliver a short acceptance speech after winning an event.

None of this is new. The LPGA has had a program for more than three years whereby we dedicate substantial resources for the transition and education of our international members. This program includes an on-line learning program, tutors and translators with the expressed goal being a functional ability to communicate in English within two years after an international member has joined the LPGA.

The aspect which is new and received the vast majority of coverage last week is the penalty, which would be assessed after two years if a player didn’t achieve the minimal ability to communicate in English. We do not view this as punitive but rather as underscoring the importance of a core value on which the LPGA was founded: engaging and entertaining our customers and fans.
And here I thought it was to allow women to display their incredible golfing skills! What was I thinking!
Without this most basic ability to entertain our customers, we will not maintain the current levels of events much less grow. Nor will our international members have the skills necessary to maximize their individual earnings potential by being able to communicate with prospective sponsors.

I’d like to offer a brief word about our events outside the United States.
Here's the part where we let it be known that Paula Creamer had better learn to say vachchuneta!
As part of our Board-approved strategic plan, we are producing cultural briefings for each tournament beginning this fall. Among items shared with members will be key phrases for communicating in the native language of the country in which the event is held. Additionally, we have a number of members already using our on-line language services to learn other languages.

I believe, as do the majority of our domestic and international members, the program we have implemented will benefit the LPGA and every Tour member individually.

Please feel free to send us your thoughts and comments.

 Best regards,

Carolyn F. Bivens

Tuesday
Sep022008

Elin Pregnant; Media Jubilant Over Opportunity To Ask Tiger More Inane Questions About Fatherhood

Finally, a reason to wish Tiger would take more time off: the relentlessly redundant fatherhood questions will be returning...so soon. They'll make questions about the knee seem fun!

Tiger, how does it feel to be a father for the second time? 

Tiger, now that you are a father for the second time, does this allow you to relate to your father, who had two children himself, one of whom was you?

Tiger, do you see yourself cutting back your design work from two projects at a time to one now that you have two children and one bum knee?

Tiger, does this your change your perspective towards life in any way that I can write about so I don't have to write about your knee for the third time this month?

Tiger, have you reached out to anyone like Phil Mickelson or Michael Jordan or Barack Obama about the ways having a second child might impact your schedule?

Tiger, now that Elin has provided you with another child, does this make Steve Williams any less of a jerk?

Tuesday
Sep022008

Riding Wave Of Deutsche Bank T7, Campbell Named To Ryder Cup Team

Doug Ferguson reports...

Chad Campbell made one last impression on U.S. captain Paul Azinger and was rewarded Tuesday with a spot on the Ryder Cup team, joining Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan and J.B. Holmes as captain's picks.

Thoughts?

Monday
Sep012008

"Nobody's heard from him"

Doug Ferguson considers all of the selection candidates for Paul Azinger and says he could pick four rookies. I'm looking for Stricker, Mediate, Mahan and Holmes to get picked.

How anyone could possibly know is hard to say since Azinger isn't talking as Steve Elling notes:

Four of the players on Azinger's supposed short list said they haven't spoken with the captain in weeks -- if at all.

"I don't even know if he has my phone number," American veteran Scott Verplank said.

The buzz all week at the Deutsche Bank Championship has been about the final formation of the two teams -- it's the first time the U.S. team hasn't been set at the PGA Championship -- but the phones have certainly not been buzzing.

"Nobody's heard from him," said Steve Stricker, who is 10th in the world rankings and considered the closest thing to a lock to make the team. "I don't know if it's a good thing or bad thing."

Monday
Sep012008

"I find it troubling that media that does not know the whole story would jump on a racist bandwagon"

The Brand Lady speaks! A week after Beth Ann Baldry likely ruined Carolyn Bivens' vacation to Southern California (CB, a call would have been nice!), the LPGA Commish talks to Baldry via email and offers this wisdom to Ron Sirak:

"I find it troubling that media that does not know the whole story would jump on a racist bandwagon," Bivens told Golf World. "If these players don't take this step [and learn English], their ability to earn a living is reduced. They will be cut out of corporate and endorsement opportunities. I can't imagine that someone who has thought this through does not realize that in opposing this measure they are penalizing the very people they are trying to help."
You know she's right. It's not the LPGA officials who are the racists. It's the sponsors who are at fault here!

Maybe it was better that she stuck to emailed answers.

Sirak also offers the first information on the South Korean players-only meeting, and it sounds like little was lost in translation:
According to the source, one father lashed out at Bivens, who was defended by several veteran Korean players. A second source said some Korean players walked out of the meeting along with a few fathers. Multiple sources said the Korean players requested a private meeting with no LPGA officials, managers or parents, at which the veterans told the younger players it was to their economic benefit to learn English.
The Baldry email Q&A is mostly filled with carefully crafted answers clearly vetted much better than Sarah Palin, because there isn't much to make fun of here.
Carolyn Bivens: The feedback we are getting is much the same as what has been in the mainstream media, which runs from total agreement for the program to asking for more information to disagreeing with the position. The more the audience knows about the business model of the LPGA, the more likely they are to be in agreement. We welcome the dialogue, which is a wonderful way to learn what people are thinking about the LPGA and to inform at the same time.
Yawn.
GW: How has the LPGA responded to Asian-advocacy groups that have criticized the decision?
CB: We’ve not had the opportunity to speak with all of the groups that have contacted us, but we have had dialogue with some of the folks who have asked for more information or criticized our policy. The conversations have been positive, with a good exchange of information. Since much of the coverage reported on only 5 percent of our program, the penalty, instead of 95 percent of our program, the education and resources committed to our tour members, the one-on-one conversations are productive and positive. Some people and groups are developing opinions based on misinformation instead of understanding the policy in its entirety before drawing conclusions. We intend to follow up with these groups in the days ahead.
It's like reporters who cover an execution and fail to highlight that 95% of the time the killer wasn't hurting anyone
GW: Have you cut short your vacation to deal with the public response?

CB: While I’ve not been in the office this week, I have been in constant communication with our staff, sponsors and members as the LPGA responds to the various inquiries and media requests this past week.
The wonders of technology.
Meanwhile George Vecsey of the New York Times talked to several tennis players at the U.S. Open and drew this conclusion:
The L.P.G.A. probably has the right to install close-to-mandatory English courses for the players — an hour here, an hour there. Maybe the pro-am gig could be considered a language lab. But setting a deadline, putting employment on the line? Sounds anti-American to me.
Monday
Sep012008

"I have to say I was quite surprised myself"

Lawrence Donegan talks to Darren Clarke about his Ryder Cup selection snub:

"Half of the guys have been in touch over the last day to say how disappointed they are for me, and to say how surprised they are that I won't be going with them," the Northern Irishman said last night. "I have to say I was quite surprised myself."

Sunday
Aug312008

Faldo Insists Sarah Palin Was Never Considered For Euro Ryder Cup Team

The British press is having fun now. The early verdicts on the Poulter selection...

Lawrence Donegan offers probably the most sympathetic perspective:

The irony is that there really was a strong case for choosing Poulter over Clarke, or Casey for that matter. For one thing, he is a fabulous competitor. More crucially, he is a fabulous putter - the most important attribute any player can bring to a Ryder Cup. He finished 12th in the qualification rankings and, at No23 in the world, was the highest ranked player who had not played himself into an automatic spot.

Most people could marshal these facts, and a few others, to make an insurmountable case for Poulter, but not Faldo.

Remarkable for someone who makes his living as a TV commentator these days, the Englishman is uncomfortable under the glare of the cameras and, thus far into his captain's role, has made the famously tongue-tied Ian Woosnam sound like Winston Churchill. Yet on this occasion his hesitation might have had more to do with the fact that he was hiding a deeper truth - that his selections may have had little to do with form and a lot to do with personality.

And shares this about Monty:

Faldo was sympathetic to those left out, especially when it came to Clarke. "Darren made a massive, massive charge, a big effort the last few weeks. It's a tough call - some will agree, some will disagree. I briefly spoke to Darren and you could sense he was disappointed," he said.
"Monty, I only managed to leave a voice message - apparently he was watching football or shopping. My run came to an end and the first one you miss it stinks. Monty's had an historic career, but unfortunately his summer wasn't great and he's finished down the list."
Derek Lawrenson reports that Bernard Gallacher suspects the pick was a mistake.
'I am shocked,' said Gallacher. 'A lot of people were very surprised that Ian didn't come back and fight for his place, and I think team morale will be a bit lower for picking him over Darren, who tried so hard to make it.

'I felt Darren and Paul Casey were certainties to be his picks. But Nick's always been a bit controversial and he's certainly lived up to that.'
James Corrigan in the Independent doesn't sound too high on the selection:
In ignoring the seemingly irresistible claims of Darren Clarke and picking Ian Poulter alongside Paul Casey as his two wild cards, Faldo left himself exposed to criticism, from both inside and outside the team room.

Poulter may have finished second in the Open at Birkdale in July but elsewhere he has recorded just one top 10 finish all season and that came in Abu Dhabi in January. He has not shot a single round under 68 since then. In fairness, the flamboyant Englishman has been consistent in racking up the top-30s and, as Faldo pointed out: "He was the highest ranked player who had not already made the team." Undeniably, Poulter is a brilliant putter and a confident competitor. He is also a friend of Faldo's, however, and that inevitably assisted in filling the whispers here.
Lewine Mair in the Telegraph notes the cozy ties between Faldo and Poulter.
It was back at the PGA championship that he spoke of being in constant contact with Faldo. "We've been friends for the last few years so I've just been keeping in touch and he's always been supportive of me over the last year," he said at the time.
"I'm in a situation where I'm close to making the side and where I think I should be in contact with him. I want to know what's going to happen and what the team could be doing."
The above, in itself, resulted in nothing more than a few raised eyebrows. But when, in withdrawing from the Johnnie Walker, he made another mention of having spoken to Faldo, it was hardly surprising that so many put two and two together.
John Hopkins in the Times notes that the dreaded Clarke-Westwood pairing is not an option now:
Yet Faldo stands accused by some of having made an error already in selecting Ian Poulter ahead of Darren Clarke and Carl Pettersson. Clarke, 40, has won two tournaments since mid-April, the more recent eight days ago. His partnership with Lee Westwood has yielded an enormous dividend for Europe. Clarke and Westwood have beaten the world No 1 and No 2 in three of the recent Ryder Cups - Woods and Duval in the four-balls at Brookline in 1999, Woods and Mickelson in the foursomes at Oakland Hills in 2004 and Woods and Furyk in the four-balls in 2006. To discard such a potent partnership seems to be brave at the very least.
Upon hearing that Clarke had not been selected, Paul Azinger may have let out a sigh of relief. “I thought he was a lock,” the US captain said.
Mark Lamport-Stokes reports that even Jim Furyk was shocked by the selection.
"I think everyone kind of felt like Darren was going to get the nod," Furyk told reporters after shooting a two-under-par 69 in the third round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.

"All of his team mates and actually our guys respect him. He's a good friend of a bunch of guys over here and I know the guys on their team love him.

"He's great behind the scenes, a good team guy, so I think I'm a little surprised Darren wasn't a pick.

"From a personal perspective, Darren is a friend and I feel badly for him that he's not there," added Furyk, who like the Northern Irishman has played in the last five Ryder Cups.

As for the rest of the team, GolfBrief.com offers AP team capsules.
Sunday
Aug312008

With One Top 10, Poulter Was A No Brainer For Euro Ryder Cup Team

Now the fun really begins as we await the European press reaction to Nick Faldo inexplicably picking Ian Poulter over Darren Clarke. Or is it inexplicable? As reader Chris noted, check out this buried in an unbylined golf365.com story:

Faldo's first words to Poulter, though, revealed how close a relationship they have developed.

They regularly speak to each other in the voice of a character from 'Only Fools and Horses' and on the phone Faldo said: "Raquel, go and put your overcoat on. It's time to go to the Ryder Cup."

Lordy. Let's get these two some tickets to see a Bette Midler concert.

Saturday
Aug302008

"Faldo would have soaked it up. If he was here. Which, of course, he was not."

An unbylined Scotland On Sunday story (Tom English?) takes Captain Faldo to task for not appearing at Gleneagles for Saturday's third round.

Yes, Faldo would have soaked it up. If he was here. Which, of course, he was not. A face in the crowd at the tennis at Flushing Meadows earlier in the week he was believed to be at a corporate day at Wentworth yesterday. No doubt he had his reasons and we'll be mightily interested to hear them when he announces his wild cards a little after 6pm this evening. Quite honestly, he's got a bit of talking to do today.
Meanwhile Bill Elliott in The Guardian sums up the issues Faldo faces in selecting two players, one of which is not going to be Monty.

Bernard Gallacher tells Faldo to pick Paul Casey and Darren Clarke and reminds him to call the bums he leaves off the team. Thanks to reader Chris for this story.

I'm liking the American's chances the more the Europeans keep kicking each other around!
Saturday
Aug302008

"Such nonsense represents nothing short of blatant and specific racism."

On the LPGA's planned English-speaking requirement, John Huggan becomes the first to drop the "r" word in a major publication, talks to a player who offers a fresh perspective and drops the mini-bombshell that Commissioner Bivens has instituted a new rule requiring media background checks. Anyway, the "r" word part:

Now, quite apart from the obviously tricky legal aspects of such a distasteful and questionable move – and the equally self-evident irony in having those who, like, routinely mangle the, like, English-language on a, like, daily basis, claiming the upper hand in any linguistic argument – such nonsense represents nothing short of blatant and specific racism. Note that, despite today's LPGA tour being more diverse than it has ever been, only the Koreans were summoned to answer for their perceived verbal shortcomings.
Just why one nation should be singled out is not difficult to discern. For the US-based LPGA, the by-now routine domination of the tour by foreign-born players – a group largely made up of Koreans – is something of a commercial problem. Twenty-four LPGA events have been played so far this year and in 18 of those a non-US national has finished first. Seven of those 18 victories – including the two most recent major championships – have been recorded by Korean women.
For Middle America, such a phenomenon is the golfing equivalent of sleeping pills. For it is a sad and insular fact of life that Wally Hamburger III and his wife, Betty-Sue, have little or no interest in watching an apparently homogenous group of "furrners" beating up on homegrown twinkies like Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis and Cristie Kerr.
He also talks to Catriona Matthew who offers this common sense attitude:

"To me, the whole thing is a bit odd in that I can't think of too many players – Korean or not – to whom this would apply. After two years on tour, 99 per cent of the players know enough English to get by. Which begs the question: Why is the LPGA bothering?

"In most cases I have found that the players can understand English but they are less comfortable speaking it in a public forum. That is understandable. It's easy to get something wrong in a second language. The bottom line is that the LPGA has more important issues it could be focusing on."
Saturday
Aug302008

"If they were in the schoolyard, Colin Montgomerie and Ian Poulter would probably have their heads banged together (or at least their sponsored visors)."

Monty and Ian Poulter are going at it on the even of Captain Faldo's Ryder Cup picks. Ah this getting fun! James Corrigan reports:

Never mind squeaky bum time, this is squawking gob time. As the race to make the Ryder Cup reaches its critical stage, two of the players in the frame to be named as Nick Faldo's wild cards here on Sunday evening are involved in a verbal skirmish that reveals just how tense this run-in has become. So much for all that legendary European camaraderie.

If they were in the schoolyard, Colin Montgomerie and Ian Poulter would probably have their heads banged together (or at least their sponsored visors). A petty squabble has descended into the bitterly personal and has overshadowed the Johnnie Walker Championship where six Ryder Cup rookies were trying their damnedest to qualify by right.

And here's the monumental debate at hand...
Responding to Poulter's advise that he should "keep his head down and play good golf" rather than make comments about the Open runner-up having "a hotline to Faldo", Monty let rip.
"Nice to be told what to do by one so young and one so inexperienced," said the 45-year-old, his quivering top lip underlining the extent of his fury. "Can you honestly believe he said that? The only reason that we said 'a hotline to Faldo' is because he has said he has spoken to Nick. Has anyone else said that? No. Right then. It is Nick Faldo's decision. Self praise is no praise."
And what a fine captain Monty will make!

Lawrence Donegan writes, "So much for the big, happy family that is European golf." At least there's one happy family in all of this: the media! 

Friday
Aug292008

"Ultimately, if the LPGA didn't seek to set a standard for English literacy it would be furthering the alienation and isolation that minority and immigrant groups have historically felt in the United States."

As with any issue dealing with race, the viewpoints are getting wilder and whackier each day with regard to the proposed LPGA English-only concept. Which, by the way is at day five and not a peep from the Commissioner! Anyway...

Beth Ann Baldry follows up on her exclusive by talking to several Koreans. Included was this observation that the LPGA's full-time English instructor might actually be making the problem worse.

Hae-Won Kang takes it a step further, saying that first-generation Koreans on the LPGA (i.e. Se Ri Pak, Hee-Won Han, Mi Hyun Kim) learned English quicker because they had little help. Since the LPGA hired a full-time staffer who is fluent in Korean and can help with interviews, Kang thinks many players have become complacent.
Brian Hewitt responds to reader emails, many of which support the LPGA Tour's position.

And SI's Farrell Evans writes that "if you want to succeed in corporate America, you may have to abandon part of your cultural identity."

Ah, that makes it so right! He also writes:
Many writers and bloggers are enjoying the opportunity to throw self-righteous grenades at the LPGA, but that's because they don't understand that being a touring pro means more than putting a ball in a hole. Public relations, sponsor seduction and fan interaction are all part of the job.
Sponsor seduction? Wow, he's right. I didn't realize that pro-am work went beyond saying "I like three inches outside the left edge."
Lamar Alexander, a Republican Senator from Tennessee, has been the most vocal proponent of an amendment that would make English mandatory in the workplace. "This is America, and in America we speak English," said Sen. Alexander, a former Secretary of Education. "Since 1906, no immigrant has been able to become an American citizen without learning English."
Why shouldn't the LPGA tour adhere to this inalienable right to mutual progress? Ultimately, if the LPGA didn't seek to set a standard for English literacy it would be furthering the alienation and isolation that minority and immigrant groups have historically felt in the United States.
Yeah, but they play a whole bunch of events outside the United States now. And the way things are going, more and more in the future.
When I finish writing this essay, I will hail a cab on St. Nicholas Ave. in Upper Manhattan. Chances are, my driver will speak almost anything but English. He will only recognize the address that I give him. We won't talk about our kids or the weather. We won't talk about why we can't talk to each other. I'll pay him and wave goodbye as I leave his car. I'll probably never see him again.
Sounds about like how most player's would like their pro-am rounds to go!
The stakes are too high for the LPGA to continue these types of casual lost-in-translation encounters. For its business to thrive in a tough economy in a sport that struggles even during the best of times, it needs more. It needs to make a statement, loud and clear.
Life isn't fair. 

Hey, at least he didn't also write that golf is a metaphor for life.

Friday
Aug292008

"If you are not having fun, you are disqualified."

There's a wonderful unbylined but very personal obituary of Bob Labbance at reformer.com. If anyone knows who the author was, please let me know.