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SBD/June 23, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies
Yes Wie Can: Michelle Wie's Open Victory Could Raise Profile Of Women's Golf
Published June 23, 2014
WIE BRINGS STAR POWER: ESPNW's Mechelle Voepel wrote golf is "about individual star power, and the LPGA has had only a few over the years who have had especially high wattage combined with consistent results on the course." Since Annika Sorenstam retired in '08, "no one has 'moved the needle' consistently when it comes to women's golf." But Wie is "one of those athletes who has the potential to transcend her sport -- or at least bring it publicity that not too many others can" (ESPNW.com, 6/22). GLOBAL GOLF POST's Steve Eubanks writes women's golf "doesn't need" Wie, but she "sure does help." The "ratings, interest and fortunes of the female professional game don't hinge on Wie's position on the leaderboard," but it is "no coincidence that during a spring in which she logged her first win on U.S. soil and had seven top-10 finishes before arriving in Pinehurst ... ratings for the LPGA shot up" between 16-25% over the same period last year. The number of LPGA Facebook followers "also have increased" 163%, while Twitter numbers are up 60% and Instagram is up 221% "in the past 12 months." Wie "definitely moves the needle" (GLOBAL GOLF POST, 6/23). Eubanks adds Wie is "both the Tiger Woods and the Phil Mickelson of the women's game -- the one player who generates interest from the drive-by golf fan while at the same time giving diehard followers no end of heartburn" (GLOBAL GOLF POST, 6/23). Golf Channel's Chris DiMarco said of Wie, "It's great for the LPGA to have that marketable player that transcends the game, and she's doing it." The LPGA needs a "dominant player," which makes the tour "exciting because you either like that person or you don’t like that person, like Tiger Woods on our tour" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 6/23).
FACE OF THE SPORT? GOLF.com's weekly roundtable discussed whether Wie's win made her the face of women's golf, with Golf magazine's Jessica Marksbury saying, "No question the answer is yes. Wie has always been the face of women's golf." Golf.com's Eamon Lynch added, "Every sports update I heard on my car radio today covered Wie's quest for a major, which is hardly standard practice for a Women's Open. She never really stopped being the face of women's golf, even as she struggled throughout her career. Among the casual fans, she remained the most famous female golfer in the world. Now her game has the stature of her reputation and her brand." SI's Gary Van Sickle: "She's definitely the face of American women's golf until she piles up a few more wins, but she's a dream for LPGA marketing." Golf magazine's Joe Passov added, "The only woman that truly moves the needle is Wie, and her win is great for women's golf -- and great for golf, period. ... Women's golf has a real possibility to regain the momentum it had a couple of years ago. ... In some ways, it's more compelling than the current different-winner-each-week PGA Tour." SI's Jeff Ritter: "Is the LPGA having a great season or what?" (GOLF.com, 6/22). Meanwhile, GOLFWEEK's Beth Ann Nichols wrote playing PGA Tour events as a teenager, "for better or for worse, is what made Wie a household name and it's what makes Sunday's victory at Pinehurst so monumental for the LPGA" (GOLFWEEK.com, 6/22).
WORDS OF WISDOM: In N.Y., Karen Crouse noted golfer Juli Inkster yesterday at 53 competed in her final U.S. Women's Open after serving as the "model for a generation of working mothers on the LPGA." Inkster "won four of her seven major titles ... after giving birth to the second of her two daughters." Inkster now "envisions the top players following the path of Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa, who won two majors and reached No. 1 before retiring at 28 to become a full-time mother." Inkster said, "Most of these girls are starting off really young playing, and by the time they get out here, they’ve played 10 years of competitive golf, and now you’re asking them to play another 10 years or whatever. It’s just a lot of golf, a lot of wear and tear on your body.” She added, “I really don’t see a lot of the girls playing into their 30s" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/22).