Amazing: LPGA Purses Top $70 Million in 2019 With 33 Starts And New Formats, Too

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It wasn’t that long ago the Brand Lady was steering the LPGA Tour into the ground with her marketing obsession over substance.

With that in mind, congratulations to Commissioner Mike Whan, his team and the players for another incredible milestone announced today: $70 million in 2019 LPGA Tour purses.

As Beth Ann Nichols writes for Golfweek, the tour is also introducing some exciting new formats, including a team event and a co-sanction of the groundbreaking Victoria Open in Australia. That’s the event where men and women play separate events at the same time for the same purse.

From Nichols’ report, after reporting on the tour’s new tournament of champions even in Orlando:

Also new to the LPGA, the groundbreaking Vic Open on Feb. 7-10, the only professional event in the world where men and women compete concurrently on the same course for equal prize money.

The year’s Vic Open, held at 13th Beach Golf Links in Barwon Heads, Australia, will be sanctioned by the European Tour and ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia (men’s) and the LPGA and ALPG (women’s).

And finally, this summer’s Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational will be the first official team event in tour history. With a pair of sister acts winning on the LPGA in 2018, it’s sure to offer plenty of compelling teams and storylines.

(Mercifully) RIP Soon: Caddies Lining Up Players

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GolfChannel.com’s Randall Mell says goodbye to the peculiar LPGA player tendency to have their caddies line them up for a shot, a casualty of the 2019 rules of golf changes.

As most commentators have told us, no one can recall when a player was actually called off a shot by a caddie. Mostly, it just provided an annoyance to television viewers and gave some the perception that female professional golfers needed this odd crutch.

Mell writes of Brittany Lincicome’s use of caddy alignment confirmation throughout her career:

So why do it? For most players like Lincicome, it’s just reassurance. If the rules allow it, why not make sure? For Lincicome, it also has become part of her pre-shot routine.

“It’s really more like a trigger,” Pederson said. “It’s something she will just have to re-establish for next year. I don’t foresee it being a problem. She plays off weeks and in the off season without me lining her up, and she’s fine.”

Lincicome was irritated when she first learned of the rule change, mostly because it was sold as a way to speed the pace of play. Lincicome is one of the fastest players on tour.

The LPGA Has Had Better Q-Schools...

I’m not sure why the concept of Q-School has drifted so far. At one times tours had a season-ending tournament where players shooting the lowest score got a card for the following year. Sometimes it took a few stages and some terrible stress to get there, but it all worked pretty well.

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We know by now how the PGA Tour has turned their legendary Q-School into a Web.com Tour field filler, and this year it was the LPGA Tour’s turn to make everyone scratch their heads with exemptions for college players.

Seven of the eight amateurs who qualified for the eight-round finals earned full status for 2019, meaning they will skip the spring. With the top five women in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings given an opportunity, their likely imminent departures will be a tough blow for college golf and not necessarily the way to run a Q-School. At least one player—naturally a Bruin—was not comfortable with the effort to expedite pro careers.

From Beth Ann Nichols’ report for Golfweek:

“You’re kind of making the decision for them,” said Kristy McPherson, a South Carolina grad and LPGA veteran who earned back her card at this week’s Q-Series.

UCLA’s Patty Tavatanakit (above) was in the running for College Player of the Year last year as a freshman. She actually hesitated in coming to Pinehurst at all for Q-Series.

“My heart and soul was not in this tournament,” said Tavatanakit, who told her dad as much after the third round.

And now there is the headline-making story of a player’s mother spotted moving a ball from out-of-bounds to in-bounds. Randall Mell on the DQ of Doris Chen, the 2014 NCAA Champion.

An LPGA source familiar with the information provided for the ruling told GolfChannel.com that a homeowner along the course who was watching the event observed the infraction and provided a description of the woman he saw moving Chen’s ball. The LPGA, the source said, later identified the woman as Chen’s mother, Yuh-Guey Lin.

Chen won the NCAA Championship while at USC in 2014. In three seasons on the Symetra Tour, she has combined to make just $12,050.

Chen couldn’t be reached for comment.

That all said, there were success stories noted here by Golf World’s Ryan Herrington.

The Kordas And The Amazing Winning Siblings Feat

Nelly Korda wins: some trophies are easier to kiss than others.

Nelly Korda wins: some trophies are easier to kiss than others.

We don’t want to get too far removed from the weekend’s action without pausing to consider the remarkable feat of siblings winning on the same tour.

I’m fairly certainly this is Final Golf Jeopardy material here, from Al Lunsford of the LPGA:

With her win, Nelly Korda joined her sister, five-time LPGA winner Jessica Korda, in the winner’s circle on Sunday, making the Kordas just the third set of sisters to win on the LPGA Tour in history.

Annika Sorenstam (72 wins) and Charlotta Sorenstam (one win) were the first to accomplish the feat in 2000, and were joined by Ariya Jutanugarn (10 wins) and Moriya Jutanugarn (one win) earlier this season when Moriya won the 2018 HUGEL-JTBC LA Open.

Imagine that. Two of the three pairings to have done so accomplished the feat in 2018.

Big sister Jessica was a blubbering mess after the win:

Trophy Wrap: Schauffele Takes The HSBC, Champ Claims Sanderson, Nelly Nabs The Swing Skirts

Xander Schauffele is primed for a Ryder Cup berth after…oh wait, sorry. Presidents Cup! He’s in like Flynn! Your WGC HSBC winner…

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Some birthday week eh, @xanderschauffele?

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Cameron Champ has arrived, taking the Sanderson Farms and a fantastic bookend for his coffee table book collection.

Nelly Korda becomes an LPGA winner in Taiwan and has a fantastic glass plate to show for her effort.

Scott Parel won the Invesco QQQ and the member-guest crystal that goes with winning a Schwab Cup playoff event.

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Trophy No. 2 for @parelgolf. 🏆🏆

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Reuters: Chinese Golfers Urged To WD From Taiwan Event By Higher Ups

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This week’s friendly (cautionary) tale for a world of golf eager to cash in on all things golf in China comes in the form of a Reuters report by Peter Reynolds. The short version: sources say someone “high up” in China urged the golfers to pass on this week’s Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship.

China, which views self-ruled Taiwan as a wayward province, has ramped up pressure to assert its sovereignty. Ties have deteriorated since 2016, when President Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party came to power.

The United States sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Monday in its second such operation this year, as its military steps up the frequency of transits through the busy strategic waterway, despite opposition from China.

Shanshan Feng and rookie Yu Liu are the two players, both given billing on tournament websites. Reynolds quotes Liu as saying the late WD was not for personal reasons.

Trophy Wrap: Leishman Is CIMB Worthy, Pepperell Takes British Masters, Chun Claims The Hana, Langer Wins No. 38 In The SAS And Tennant Wins US Senior Women's Am

Marc Leishmann fended off—who else?—but Justin Thomas along with 54-hole co-leaders Gary Woodland and Shubhankar Sharma to take the CIMB Classic and the solar panel trophy for the winner.

Because it was just too bloody cold for anyone to go back outside, Eddie Pepperell posed inside Walton Heath’s clubhouse to celebrate his Sky Sports British Masters victory. Alistair Tait with details of the win for Golfweek.

In Gee Chun takes the turquoise jacket and a matching lamp base in the KEB Hana Bank:

Bernhard Langer won again on the PGA Tour Champions, his 38th title. This time it’s the SAS Championship and a piece of crystal he can pawn to buy a non-white belt with.

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Trophy No. 38 for @bernhard.langer. 👏🏆

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And it was a few days ago, but congrats to Lara Tennant for winning the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. The 51-year-old had her father on the bag! Scott Lipsky with the the story of Tennant’s 3&2 win over Sue Wooster.

Trophy Roundup: Tway Takes Safeway, Bjerregaard Is An Old Course Winner, Crowns For Korea, Kanya Claims The APAC

Kevin Tway claims his first PGA Tour title in a playoff over Ryan Moore and Brandt Snedeker at Silverado. As Kevin Casey notes in this Golfweek roundup of notes and quotes, it was Tway’s steadiness that benefitted from Brandt Snedeker losing a five-stroke lead.

For the effort, Tway gets a fantastic foot rest for his mancave:


Lucas Bjerregaard, who attended the Ryder Cup as a spectator, gets to do the Swilcan Burn trophy shot before figuring how to get that shipped home to Denmark. This is his second European Tour title.

Takumi Kanaya is the Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion and highest ranked Japanese amateur currently:

America! Angela Stanford Becomes Second Oldest LPGA Major Winner, USA Players Thrive At Evian

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Maybe they heard the early week discussion about what an awful year Americans were having on the LPGA Tour, because six Americans finished inside the top nine of the Evian Championship, led by the feel-good story of long time major contender Angela Stanford.

A pair of weekend 68s and a rough finish from Amy Olson allowed Stanford to become the second oldest player to win an LPGA major.

From Beth Ann Nichols’ Golfweek game story:

She became the second-oldest player in LPGA history to win her first major, behind Fay Crocker, who won the 1955 U.S. Women’s Open at 40 years, 11 months. Stanford turns 41 on Nov. 28.

“I have no idea what just happened,” said Stanford through heavy tears after her win at Evian-les-Bains, France.

Highlights of the crazy finish:

Evian Eve, ANWA And College Golf: State Of American Women's Golf In The Spotlight

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The forces are strong, contrasting and fascinating: no American has won a major in 2018 and barring a miracle, the fifth and final LPGA major teeing off this week will produce just the fourth year ever when at least one American prevailed in a major.

Matt Adams and I debated on this week’s Golf Central and with all due respect to the many fine players, the struggles of American women is the top storyline for me. My expression in the screen capture summarizes the fixed nature of the topic, but I digress.

Clearly, next spring’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur will add another bit of incentive for aspiring American women, and we are about to start seeing if the Drive, Chip and Putt produces elite talent, but there appears to be some disagreement about the role college golf has (or has not) played in developing talent.

With six scholarships available at fully-funded Division I programs, the reports of unused scholarships have raised eyebrows about what we are doing to develop junior girls. Jack Nicklaus brought this up in his Morning Drive appearance this week hosted by Gary Williams and in conjunction with Gary Player and Lee Trevino.

But as Beth Ann Nichols notes in this Golfweek story, the misconception is not a great one given how many programs are not fully or even partially funded.

Or as she writes, “Junior girls can’t pluck a full ride to college like an apple from a tree.”

From the story:

“I think it’s a very common assumption that full rides are readily available,” said Kelly, whose program does not have six full scholarships. “I hear this frequently … ‘You are at a wealthy institution. Your school has the money.’ ”

Brandi Jackson hears it too. For nearly 10 years the former LPGA pro has guided players and their families through the recruiting process.

“There’s a big chunk of your better academic schools who may only have one scholarship among the whole team,” Jackson said. “Eight girls on the team … the majority of those girls are paying to be there.”

Something to keep in mind…

A) when you wonder why Americans are falling behind in a sport they once dominated

B) when donating to the athletic department’s general fund

C) when wondering why your alma mater’s women are not attracting the best players

But hey, on that bright note, the scenarios for a new No. 1 and other highlights going into the fifth (gulp) and final LPGA major played for the last time in September.

Speaking of LPGA majors, one of the American rally killers earlier this century spoke of the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur and it’s potential influence today on Morning Drive:

Instagram Trophy Wrap: Sunday Winners Wallace, Alex, McCarron, Hickok, Wilson, USA Women

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While the Dell Technologies crowns a champion on Monday, Labor Day weekend's Sunday gave away mostly straightforward hardware. And yes, I'm lumping in Jeff Wilson's U.S. Senior Amateur win from a few days ago, because, why not?

Congrats to all of the big winners, starting with three-time European Tour winner in 2018 Matt Wallace, who birdied seven of eight holes coming in and survived an all-English, four-man playoff. For his effort, he won the largest salad bowl in golf:

A winner again 🏆🙌🏼 #MiD18

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Marina Alex claimed her first LPGA title in Portland:

@marinaaadee FIRST EVER #LPGAWinnerSelfie 🤳👏🏽⛳️

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Scott McCarron earned both a hat he'll never wear again and a trophy he'll hide ASAP in winning the Shaw Classic.

😁 he couldn’t stop smiling. @shawclassic

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Kramer Hickok adds another breakthrough win for Texas men's golf in 2018, taking the Web.com Tour's DAP Championship.

Nice work by Jeff Wilson in finally winning a USGA event by taking the U.S. Senior Amateur at Eugene Country Club last week.

And finally, congrats to the American women at the World Amateur Team at Carlton House.

Sexism Alive And Well Files: "If a No. 1 player can’t get replacement clubs after a long and successful relationship, what kind of message does that send to up-and-comers?"

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Forgive me for not seeing Beth Ann Nichols' Golfweek story from two weeks ago, but Bellerive had that kind of transitory effect. Anyway, we discussed on the latest State of The Game the absurdity of this story. Given the amount of free stuff given to young male golfers--young being 14 and up--the notion that a company said no to a future Hall of Famer, all-time great and player who actually might influence buying habits, I'm not sure if there is any way to defend the actions of Taylor Made as they relate to Inbee Park.

Here is Nichols' setup, though there is much more in the piece about issues LPGA players face in getting equipment as the free stuff flows on the male amateur and pro side of the sport:

Two months ago, when Inbee Park was No. 1, caddie Brad Beecher reached out to a TaylorMade rep on behalf of Park to get replacements for the 3-wood, 5-wood and two Rescue clubs she had in her bag. Park is a Srixon staff player but is only required to have nine Srixon clubs in the bag. For more than five years she has played with four TaylorMade woods. That timespan includes six of her seven majors, an Olympic gold medal and more than 100 weeks as the No. 1 player in the world.

Park received the same response as several other LPGAers: A new company policy stipulates that players must use a TaylorMade driver to get free product.

Anyone who has seen Park play in person is immediately struck by how well she plays her fairway woods to make up for less length off the tee. Next, you are struck by how beloved she is with Korean golf fans. One might think this would lead to companies lining up to stock her locker with fairway woods. All in hopes of being associated with an all time great and the strongest part of her game, driver counts be damned.

Apparently not for all. Taylor Made's response:

When asked to comment on their policy regarding Park, a TaylorMade representative said, “We don’t share information around our relationships with athletes (contracted or non-contracted) due to confidentiality reasons.”

It's a rare misstep from a player-friendly company and one that sadly screams of short-sightedness at best, whiffs of sexism at the very least.

Lexi's Back, Contending And Adds Another Rules Infraction

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Lexi Thompson is back on the LPGA Tour after taking a short leave to get refreshed and to gather her thoughts after a rough 2017.

And she's back to bad luck on the rules infraction side of things, though this one is most definitely on her shoulders. 

Kevin Casey explains why her taking lift, clean and place relief caused the infraction

2018 Women's British Open Ratings: Peaks At 1.18 Million Viewers

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Great to see so many people enjoying the final 2018 links season tournament despite no Americans in contention and two little-known leaders in Georgia Hall and Pornanong Phatlum.

For Immediate Release:

NBC SPORTS’ WEEKEND COVERAGE OF THE RICOH WOMEN’S BRITISH OPEN
BECOME THE MOST-WATCHED WOMEN’S GOLF TELECASTS ON ANY NETWORK IN 2018

Sunday’s Final Round: Most-Watched Final Round Women’s Golf Telecast in ‘18; 2nd Most-Watched Ricoh Women’s British Open Final Round Since 2009

Saturday’s Third Round: Most-Watched Saturday Women’s Golf Telecast in ’18; 2nd Most-Watched Third Round at This Event in 10 Years 

2.2 Million Live Minutes Streamed; Most-Streamed Women’s Golf Event Ever Across NBC Sports

NBC Sports’ Combined Coverage of the Three R&A Events – The Open, Senior Open and Ricoh Women’s British Open – Most-Watched Since 2009 

ORLANDO, Fla., (Aug. 10, 2018) – Sunday’s final round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open on NBC delivered 964,000 average viewers (11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. ET; P2+), which saw Georgia Hall become the first Englishwoman since Karen Stupples in 2004 to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open with a two-shot victory over Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum. This makes The 2018 Ricoh Women’s British Open final round the most-watched women’s golf telecast on any network in 2018 and most-watched final-round telecast since last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open final round, also on NBC (1.1 million average viewers). Sunday’s final round also becomes the 2nd most-watched final round at this event since 2009 on ABC.

Saturday’s viewership on NBC also becomes the most-watched women’s golf Saturday telecast on any network in 2018 with 740,000 average viewers. Saturday’s coverage also becomes the 2nd most-watched third round at this event in 10 years, since 2008 on ABC.

NBC Sports’ combined weekend coverage (.63 U.S. Household Rating, 842,000 average viewers) becomes the 2nd most-watched weekend at this event in nine years, since 2009 on ABC and behind only last year’s coverage on NBC.

ADDITIONAL NBC SPORTS VIEWERSHIP AND DIGITAL HIGHLIGHTS:

  • NBC Sports’ final round linear coverage peaked at a .85 U.S. Household Rating, and 1.18 million average viewers (1:45-2 p.m. ET).

  • Digital: Across four days of coverage, 2.2 million total minutes were streamed (+10% vs. 2017); making 2018 the most-streamed women’s golf event ever across NBC Sports’ platforms.

Carner's Non-Conforming Wedge Dates To The Reagan Administration Years

Joanne Carner

Joanne Carner

While Joanne Carner won't find it too funny, the USGA wisely had an equipment specialist at this week's U.S. Senior Women's Open registration just in case some of the legends showed up with clubs which, shall we say, haven't been seen in these parts for some time. They've tested 20 clubs, with seven being deemed non-conforming, most likely due to worn grooves. 

As Beth Ann Nichols writes for Golfweek, Joanne Carner has had to scramble to find a new wedge for her Chicago Golf Club scrambling. Carner turned up at the Open with a Wilson R90 sand wedge from her heyday that probably lacked conforming grooves on the face. 

“Oh, it was awful,” said Carner of parting with a club that’s been critical to her game around the greens and from 75 yards out for so many years. It felt like parting with an old friend.

When head pro John Guyton got wind of Carner’s predicament, he pulled out the wedges that had been cleared away from the pro shop to make room for championship merchandise and presented them to Carner. The 79-year-old legend whittled it down to two wedges, and Guyton adjusted both to match the loft and lie of old faithful. Guyton had the clubs out to Carner before she’d even reached the first green of her practice round. She wound up choosing a Titleist Vokey 54-degree wedge that was bent to 55.

Trophy Roundup: Molinari Cruises In The National, Park Takes The LPGA, U.S. Senior Open Goes To Toms, Noren Wins The French Open

What an impressive win by Francesco Molinari to take the Quicken Loans National by eight over Ryan Armour. He was joined by tournament host Tiger Woods to hoist one of the best trophies in golf, and possibly the last one to be given out. Dan Kilbridge on the 35-year-old's win and the first on the PGA Tour by an Italian born player since Tony Penna. 

Someone at the LPGA Tour must be low on Titleist's, with a double mention to our friends in Fairhaven upon Sung Hyun Park winning the KPMG LPGA Championship in a playoff over Soyeon Ryu.

Beth Ann Nichols with the Golfweek game story on changes the 24-year-old made this week to help improve her putting and win a major. 

David Toms held off a strong contingent of pursuers to win his first U.S. Senior Open, as this AP game story explains.

Alex Noren will have plenty of good vibes for the this fall's Ryder Cup after winning the HNA French Open at Le Golf Nationale where the matches will be played.

Alistair Tait explains how the Swede came from seven back to win his 10th European Tour title.

The happiest man in France 🏆😁🤳🏼 #HNAOpenDeFrance #RolexSeries

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Saturday News Dump: PGA Of America Locks In Baltusrol For '23 KPMG LPGA, '29 PGA

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I'm fairly certainly a Saturday in the summertime is the only opportunity more likely to get something less notice than a Friday evening in summertime. 

As Kevin Casey notes for Golfweek, this is the second joint KPMG LPGA and PGA Championship site announcement and great news for the women, who will return to a former U.S. Women's Open site and scene of many fine championships.

For Immediate Release:

PGA OF AMERICA TO HOST KPMG WOMEN’S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP AND

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP AT BALTUSROL GOLF CLUB

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (June 30, 2018) – The PGA of America announced today that Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey will host two of its pillar championships: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in 2023 and the PGA Championship in 2029.

Founded in 1895, Baltusrol has played a prominent role on the national golf stage for nearly 125 years. Both Championships will be staged on Baltusrol’s famed Lower Course, which is an A.W. Tillinghast design. Since opening in 1922, the Lower Course has hosted 10 major golf events, including seven professional major championships.

The 2023 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will be the second women’s major championship played on the Lower Course. In a duel of World Golf Hall-of-Famers, Mickey Wright topped Betsy Rawls by six shots to win the 1961 U.S. Women’s Open.  

This will be Baltusrol’s third PGA Championship: Phil Mickelson and Jimmy Walker notched memorable one-shot victories on the Lower Course in 2005 and 2016, respectively.  

“The PGA of America is delighted to continue our wonderful relationship with Baltusrol well into the future,” said PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua. “We’re excited to watch the best men and women in the game measure themselves against one of the most historic and challenging golf courses in the world, Baltusrol’s Lower Course.”

The KPMG Women’s Championship is a collaboration of the PGA of America, LPGA and KPMG, and focuses on the development, advancement and empowerment of women.

“KPMG’s commitment to elevating women on and off the golf course is exemplified by the selection of Baltusrol Golf Club as the host of the 2023 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship,” said Lynne Doughtie, KPMG U.S. Chairman and CEO. “To help more women in business advance to the C-suite, the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit will be held at Baltusrol and bring together top leaders across multiple industries with women nominated by their CEOs to attend.”

“The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship has quickly become synonymous with greatness, and what better venue to solidify that than Baltusrol,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. “Even casual fans equate Baltusrol with ‘major’ moments in golf, and we’re thrilled that the best female golfers in the world will get to test their games at such an iconic venue in 2023.”

In 2014, Baltusrol Golf Club was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service, one of only four golf properties to earn this distinction.

“Since 1901 the best players in the world have competed against each other on our golf courses," said Rick Shea, Baltusrol President. "We look forward to working with the PGA of America to showcase the best women and men in these two Major Championships.”

Good And Bad News: US. Women's Open Ratings Up, Second Lowest On Record

The 2018 playing was the first in a new schedule spot against The Memorial. 

The Forecaddie explains the ratings and issues going forward for the U.S. Women's Open.

On another note, while I understand the LPGA's concerns about the new Augusta National Women's Amateur impacting the ANA Inspiration, I believe time zone differences will make a non-issue.

Of greater concern should be the dwinding numbers and stature of what was once the biggest event in women's golf, the U.S. Women's Open. While it's a USGA event, the LPGA might need to reevaluate the dates against Jack Nicklaus' Memorial. 

Herculean: Ariya Headed For Coronation As Shoal Creek Is Somehow Playable

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As Ariya Jutanagarn is positioned for a likely U.S. Women's Open victory (Beth Ann Nichols with a great read at Golfweek.com), it's the grounds crew that has kept the place playable despite absurdly unfair circumstances. 

Writing for USGA.org, Julie Williams highlights the work of Shoal Creek's Rex Davis and crew.

The week could have played out very differently. Davis noted that 15 days before the championship, Shoal Creek was playing firm and fast. The greater Birmingham area had seen limited rainfall.

“The golf course was playing the way we intended it to play,” Davis said. “Then Mother Nature threw us a curveball and we had to adapt.”

New greens went in at Shoal Creek in the fall of 2016. Given the moisture, they haven’t been as fast as Davis would have liked, but the drainage has helped to keep the championship close to schedule. Shoal Creek’s new greens drain at a rate that is four times faster than the old greens.

As Davis eyed the approach of subtropical storm Alberto, he started making preparations. Shoal Creek staff mowed the fairways seven times and the rough three times in the week before the championship, also applying growth regulators to the grass. Knowing the golf course might take on large amounts of rainfall, Davis had crews clearing pine straw and other ground cover from every place they anticipated that water would run through the property.