SBD/July 1, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Competition Between Wie, Other Young Players Has Plenty Going Right For LPGA

Experts believe Wie has the star power to lift the LPGA to new heights
Everything "seems to be breaking just right" this year for the LPGA, from the "resurgence of Michelle Wie as a world-class player to a scramble at the top of the world rankings to major wins by up-and-coming players to the continuing strong play of a 17-year-old who seems to be the future of the tour," according to Larry Bohannan of the Palm Springs DESERT SUN. Coming off her U.S. Women’s Open victory, Wie at last weekend's Northwest Arkansas Championship held the lead entering the final round in a "strong bid to back up that Open performance." After she faded from contention, there was a "race to the wire featuring 17-year-old Lydia Ko, veteran and 16-time LPGA winner Cristie Kerr and world No. 1 Stacy Lewis." Lewis, the Univ. of Arkansas grad and a "massive fan favorite in the area," went on to a one-shot victory. As the PGA Tour "has rambled along this season with nine first-time winners and with big-name stars like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson absent from the winner’s circle, the LPGA has been a star-studded affair" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 7/1). GOLF.com's weekly roundtable discussed Wie's resurgence, with Golf magazine's Josh Sens saying she "has the name recognition to bump the needle for sure, but outside of the majors and big international match play competition, I don't see the LPGA shattering any Nielsen records." Golf magazine's Cameron Morfit added, "The LPGA has a huge upside now, which [Commissioner] Mike Whan is going to enjoy taking out on the open market." SI's Jeff Ritter: "Wie's star power stands alone. She can lift her tour to new heights. Where exactly those heights are remain to be seen." SI's Alan Shipnuck added, "Golf is a niche sport and the LPGA is a niche of a niche. Then again, there's no reason that Wie can't be as big as Maria Sharapova, drawing in plenty of casual fans" (GOLF.com, 6/30).

WORK STILL TO BE DONE: GOLF WORLD's Jaime Diaz writes golf is "starved for Michelle Wie to be great," and the reaction to her U.S. Open win "confirmed that Wie possesses the star quality -- looks, personality, story, athleticism, je ne sais quoi -- to lift the LPGA and women's golf." However, if Wie's on-course success "stalls, the pendulum will swing back" on the sport's momentum. That is why it is "crucial for Wie to continue to grow as a golfer." Wie "deserves all credit for what she's accomplished, and she should be allowed to be great in her own time." Diaz: "The point is, she is not great yet, and she has to keep improving to get there" (GOLF WORLD, 7/7 issue). GOLFWEEK’s Forecaddie writes while “Michelle Mania is great for the LPGA,” Lewis following her win last weekend “remains the world No. 1” (GOLFWEEK, 7/4 issue).
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