As per my previous post, last weekend I watched the Golf Night programme on satellite TV. Having followed the very exciting finish to the European PGA Tour Open de France, I was dissuaded from switching off and going to bed by the sight of some stunning lady golfers gracing the US Women’s Open Golf Championship.
Wow! What a change from the days when lady Pro golfers tended to look like retired hockey players! The event was more like a fashion show and many of the participants would not look out of place on the models’ catwalk.
As you probably saw, the winner was Cristie Kerr – at her 42nd major attempt! The 29-year-old Kerr shot a final-round, 1-under-par 70 at the Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, Southern Pines, North Carolina, to register a two-stroke victory and finally claim that elusive major prize, just like Phil Mickelson did in the Masters in 2004.
What really caught my eye though was that, out of the top twenty five finishers, no fewer than sixteen are Asian, or of Asian extraction. Twenty four Koreans made the cut, only one less than the number of Americans.
Typical is runner-up, 18-year old Angela Park, a veritable United Nations wrapped into one small package, born in Brazil to South Korean parents before moving with her father to California at the age of eight. And at only 5ft 5 inches (about 1.62 metres) and looking like she weighs about 8 stone (112 lbs or 51 kilos), Park can really play golf. Look at her stats: Average Drive 245.3 yards, Fairways Hit 82%, Greens in Regulation 72%, Putts Per Hole 1.68.
Actually Cristie Kerr is listed as being the same height as Park although she looks much bigger (on my tv at any rate) having a more ‘American’ build. I read afterwards that she had shed three and a half stones (about 49 lbs or 22 kilos) over the past few years. Just as well because after sinking the winning putt, she leapt into her husband’s arms. Some years ago she would have flattened him.
NOT included in the sixteen Asians referred to above, is Michelle Wie. She followed up her shameful and controversial withdrawal from the Ginn Tribute (when she was in danger of shooting an 88 which, under an odd LPGA rule, would have meant that she would not be allowed to play in tournaments for the rest of the year) by also walking off the 10th hole of the second round of the Open after aggravating her wrist injury. Wie seems to have lost her way. She has yet to win anything of significance on the LPGA Tour and her attempts to compete with the men have been an unmitigated disaster. Compare her to Morgan Pressel (pictured above). Apart from returning to golf too soon from her injury, Wie seems to be distracted by all of her off-course commitments. I do hope that Alexis Thompson does not go the same way. At the age of twelve (yes, that’s twelve, just 148 months into her existence), Alexis became the youngest ever participant in the US Women’s Open. Someone that young, however good she may be, playing in Pro golf tournaments just does not seem right to me. She failed to make the cut on +16.
It appears that the strong Asian influence now on the LPGA Tour is not reflected in the men’s game. My guess is that, apart from V J Singh, the Asian men have not yet developed the power needed to succeed on the PGA Tour. Compare Angela Park’s average drive of 245 yards with the fact that the average drive of the longest driver on the US Tour is now touching 320 yards. As for me, on a good day, with a downhill running fairway and a typhoon-strength gale behind, I am right up there with Angela Park! I would be interested on your views about the Asian take-away of the LPGA Tour.
Play fast, swing slow.