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Friday, July 12, 2013

There's Golf Drama, and Then There's Golf Drama

I was chatting about the US Women's Open several weeks ago at our monthly Interclub tournament and one of the women waved her hand in dismissal and said, Oh, I don't follow the LPGA.  They're too slow, and they can't make a move without their caddies.

It wasn't your caddy's fault, Bubba
What?

What about Bubba Watson pitching a spoiled child tantrum because he thought his caddie hadn't suggested the right club and hadn't provided correct distance information?   I've used a caddy, at Pebble Beach, and she strengthened my game.  I loved her company and her advice.


What about Tiger firing Stevie when Stevie caddied for Adam Scott while Tiger was licking his wounds?  What about all the backing and forthing that's involved in getting officials to view embedded balls and investigate and assess the possibility of allowing relief?  It seems to me all that's going on in the PGA tournaments, not the LPGA.

Jessica Korda, fired her caddy because?
In addition to all the petulant, little boy drama, I just can't identify with people who hit their drives 350+ yards, and use a wedge to make a 125 yard shot.  It's not that I don't admire their golf game.  I do.  But, honestly, I find some of the dramatics a little boring.

Well, I admit that I was a little titillated when Jessica Korda fired her caddy in the middle of the Open and put her boyfriend on the bag.  I still don't know what was about and I've really tried to piece it together.  Frankly, I'm a little nosey.

I have to admit that as a golf fan, I've been on the edge of my spectator seat since the US Women's Open.  I'm thrilled that Inbee Park's pulled even with Babe Zaharias in the record book, and even more thrilled that they've done what Tiger hasn't and couldn't.

1972 Battle of the Sexes
Inbee Park's achievements reminded me of two other women's athletic moments that I've savored:

The 1973 Billy Jean King vs Bobby Riggs Battle of the Sexes tennis match, especially when Billy Jean King made her entrance into the Houston Astrodome like a modern-day Cleopatra!

Annika Sorenstam's 2003 participation in the PGA Bank of America Colonial tournament in Ft. Worth, even though she missed the cut.

Why do my memories of these two events still give me a rush?  It's not because I think women and men should be competing on the playing field.  Riggs publicly declared that women don't belong in tennis.  What unenlightened, shortsighted nonsense.  Similarly, Vijay Singh publicly excoriated Sorenstam.  Why are men afraid to tee it up with women?  Why do some men feel that the playing field is their exclusive domain?

Inbee Park is currently playing golf at a level that we lovers of the game of golf haven't seen in some time.  I would love to play the game with her focus and serenity.  Her drives, so slow, so graceful, take my breath away.  I aim to achieve her undistracted concentration.  She says she is churning with excitement and anxiety, as I am, but she overrides those emotions and plays her game.  And when I watch her, I am convinced that I can do the same.  I can identify with Inbee Park.

Catriona Matthew,
2009 British Women's Open
The next 2 days are going to be very interesting ones for those of us who do follow the LPGA.  There's a fairly new LPGA tournament in process right now in Waterloo, Ontario at the Grey Silo Golf Club.  Doesn't sound like the sort of place where a golf drama might be unfolding, but it is.  Mid-way through the 72-hole tournament, Catriona Matthew, a 40-something Scot, is 6 shots ahead of Inbee Park, a 24-year old South Korean.

If Park can pull her game together and make her putter behave, she'll win her 4th consecutive tournament this year and be perfectly set up to take the British Women's Open at St. Andrews.

If Matthew, who won the British Women's Open in 2009, 11 weeks after the birth of her 2nd child, wins at Grey Silo, she'll have stopped Park's romp and be ready to take her on at St. Andrews, a tournament that for Matthew will be played on home ground in front of home-town fans.

Now, how's that for some golf drama?  For me, it sure beats Bubba's temper tantrums and Tiger's pouting.