Sure, watching the men of the PGA Tour on TV is fun, but don't forget the ladies of the LPGA Tour. Stars like Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer and Susan Pettersen are informative, exciting to watch and easy on the eyes. They just need more exposure.
This spring I tried to watch the one sparse televised hour that had been allocated to the second round of the LPGA's Champions HSBC in Singapore. Blink and you'll miss it.
In this case it was worse - "technical difficulties" - so we got about a five-minute recap showing Paula, Si Ri Pak and a couple of others sinking putts. Nothing much about Lorena Ochoa's game, last year's winner. The rest of the hours on the air went droning on with reruns of old PGA Tour tournaments interspersed with instruction segments, then three hours of the Honda Classic followed by two hours of the Champions Tour, then a rerun of the Honda Classic for those who missed it earlier. And so on.
I pushed the TV guide button to find some LPGA coverage but no luck. Come on. Who would you men rather watch? Some old guys with pot bellies chewing on cigars or Paula Creamer in pretty pink and Natalie Gulbis in her backswing? But sorry - technical difficulties.
I like to watch the men, too - love watching Villegas do his "spider act." But lately it's gotten really boring. Maybe this will change with Tiger back on the prowl, but I don't know. What happened to players who made watching golf so much fun, guys who actually looked like they were having a good time and showed some emotion?
Remember Lee Trevino, Fuzzy and Chi Chi? What happened to grand rivalries like those between Nicklaus and Palmer? And where are the characters?
We need more Boo Weekleys who drawls, "I'd just soon be sitting in a blind waiting for a duck or hanging out on the bank somewhere with a fishing pole as be on the course."
When asked about the Masters Weekley said, "It's just another bunch of trees and a golf course. But it's a nice golf course." No wonder he gets loud "Boo, Boo, Boo" from a big fan base. He's like a big bunch of balloons at a birthday party. We like that.
But for the most part, these guys are more like geese heading south. Is Big Money the culprit? Is that possibly why the PGA Tour, and golf in general, is in a slump? Hmmm. Something is missing from the game these days.
How about a little victory dance after sinking a putt like the football pro guys do after a touchdown? Or, hey, smile! Just smile. That's one thing we all love about Tiger. No one does it better. And passion.
We missed him, and we're happy he's back. What a great moment at the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard when he drained a putt to win the tournament. Fist pump, huge smile, hug from his caddie. Great stuff.
But the ladies are great to watch, too. And listen up, guys: There's a lot to be learned from tuning in. Ever wonder how Lorena, a trim little 5-foot-6 snippet weighing about 120 pounds - about as much as your thigh - can hit it out there about 280 yards? Can you do that? Consistently? Think you might be able to learn something?
Or what about watching how the South Korean girls laser in on the pin with their chips and putts. They've drilled and drilled, many since they were 10 years old. They probably have practiced in one day more than you have practiced in a whole year. Think you might be able to learn something?
Or, aside from just the talent that's out there like Ochoa, Wie, Cramer and Tseng, think they might be easier on the eyes? You think? And characters? Christina Kim. Now there's a girl with her own style. And attitude. Watch how Lorena Ochoa, the top women golfer in the world, walks beside her caddie, David Brooker, how they have an easy, relaxed camaraderie conferring, chatting, laughing, Lorena's black hair tied back bouncing under her golf cap.
Did you catch her joyful leap into the pond after winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship? It's a tradition, and she embraced it. Brooker says, "Even when Lorena hits a shot she's not happy with, she snaps right out of it. It's important not to concentrate constantly. You just need to learn to relax."
Remember the Women's British Open, 2007 on the Old Course at St. Andrews, the final hole? Sinking her last putt for the first Grand Slam victory of her career, Ochoa ran to Brooker and jumped up to give her lanky 6-foot-3 caddie a big hug.
All the greats will tell you golf should be one minute of concentration and 10 minutes of relaxation. PGA pros today? Many of them look like they're on the Bataan Death March.
Why should people bother to watch women? Well, says Brooker, "You might see how you don't have to overpower the golf course to shoot 66. You know every shot women play, you can hit yourself. It's about repetition and consistency. Lorena and Susan (Pettersen) certainly hit amazing shots, but the majority of the ladies get around the course in a methodical way with smooth swings."
One thing's for sure, when Tiger was out, many guys did turn to the LPGA and found, surprise, they actually enjoyed watching the ladies. I know. The men in my life confessed.
Problem is, we need more coverage of live play, including more LPGA events - better balance. That means less instruction and fewer boring panels of analysts. You think?
April 13, 2009
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