SBD/July 3, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Three Down, Two To Go: Inbee Park Carrying LPGA On Her Shoulders Amid Run In Majors

Park is one of many South Koreans experiencing success on the LPGA
LPGA golfer and South Korea native Inbee Park has “lifted not just her homeland and her tour but all of women’s golf on her shoulders” after claiming the U.S. Women's Open, her third straight win in a major, according to Ron Sirak of GOLF WORLD. Park has now set the stage "for what could be the biggest boost to the women’s game since Annika Sorenstam played a men’s tour event a decade ago.” But even as Park was “poised to make history, she struggled for recognition.” NBC, which aired the U.S. Women’s Open, “made mention of Jessica Korda firing her caddie after nine holes Saturday in a national news broadcast but failed to mention Park.” Also, an ESPN graphic on “SportsCenter” spelled her name “Imbee.” Sorenstam said, “I really hope that she gets the recognition and the exposure that she deserves. This is an incredible feat. I hope people understand that” (GOLF WORLD, 7/8 issue).

PARTY OF FIVE: The AP's Doug Ferguson wrote it "seems like every time" LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan "turns on TV is he hearing about Inbee Park, and that’s how it should be." Park now has the opportunity to win four pro majors in a single season, and "any other year, the golf world would be buzzing over the prospect of a Grand Slam." But "not this one," as there is "way too much confusion." It was Whan who "decided in 2010 to elevate The Evian Championship in France to major championship status," giving the LPGA tour "five majors for the first time in its 63-year history." Ferguson: "Just his luck, it turned out to be the year one of his players had a shot at the Grand Slam." Whan on Tuesday said, "The fact I can turn on the TV every night and the discussion is on the LPGA and five majors and what does this mean ... the world views this as frustrating. In my own silly world, this is the most attention we’ve had in a long time." Ferguson: "At least they’re talking. And for women’s golf, that’s never a bad thing" (AP, 7/2). Golf Channel’s Arron Oberholser said, “I don’t like the fact that Evian basically bought themselves a major championship. And I feel bad for Mike Whan, because his feet were really held to the fire here as the head of the LPGA as an organization in having to grow the women’s game.” Oberholser added, “He’s kind of opened a Pandora’s box because now, basically, what’s to say another tournament comes to him and says, ‘Hey Mike, if you don’t make us a major, we’re out. We’re not going to sponsor the event.'” Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman noted that Whan is “in a really tough spot because he needs to grow this game, market it, and globalize it” and that “money is very important." Tilghman: "But eyeballs to the screen are what help bring that money in” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 7/3).

LACKING HEADLINES IN U.S.: Golf HOFer Carol Mann said Park winning her third consecutive major is "going to be a bigger deal for the rest of the world than it is in the United States." Mann said that she "still detects a bigotry within golf’s audience that disturbs her." She "sees it in how stories are received in web comments and social media." Mann: "I pay attention to the media’s positioning of women’s golf. I pay attention a lot, and I pay attention to the comments. I find there is an incredible lack of acceptance, especially of Korean players, and I really don’t like it. I’m going to call it on people. The prejudice, bigotry and lack of appreciation, to me is intolerable." GOLFCHANNEL.com's Randall Mell noted Mann believes that the "combination of Park as an international player and the global nature of today’s media should make Park’s achievement the most celebrated" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 7/1).
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