SBD/July 9, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

LPGA's '14 Season Thriving Thanks To Abundance Of Star Winners Like Wie, Lewis

Lewis welcomes the idea of a rivalry with Wie on the LPGA circuit
The LPGA at this point in the '14 season "might offer a more compelling product" than the PGA Tour, as the "average world ranking of a winner this season has been 12.8," according to Ryan Lavner of GOLFCHANNEL.com. Only three of the LPGA's 16 winners this season "have been ranked outside the top 25 in the Rolex Rankings at the time of their victory, and none higher than 40." Meanwhile, on the PGA Tour, "only four players have won an event this season while ranked inside the top 10 in the world rankings." The LPGA "has seen eight wins by top-10 players" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 7/8). Golf Channel's Tom Abbott said the LPGA is "as strong as I have ever seen it with the way things have materialized" in '14. The Richo Women's British Open begins tomorrow at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England, and Abbott said women's golf "usually doesn't get a lot of press" in the U.K. But "over the last few weeks, we've seen a little bit more of women's golf coverage in the papers." Abbott: "The fact that the men are going to play next week (in the British Open), it's back-to-back major championships ... (and) this is all setting up really well for good coverage of this major championship and women's golf is sort of moving up a level" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 7/7). 

WIESY DOES IT: ESPNW's Mechelle Voepel wrote Michelle Wie's profile was boosted by her U.S. Women's Open win at Pinehurst, and it is "fair to say that's good for the bottom line -- both Wie's and the LPGA's." LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said, "I think with the LPGA, the impact of major wins is even more heightened." He added, "On the women's side, there are fewer times when the sports world really pays attention, and the U.S. Open is the max. When a player on the LPGA Tour wins a major, the exposure jump is dramatic." Voepel noted Wie's new Q score of 14 "likely will reflect what already seems evident: that Wie's victories benefit the LPGA." Friendly rivals such as world No. 1 Stacy Lewis and Kraft Nabisco Championship winner Lexi Thompson "laud the popularity boost that Wie brings the tour, even as they, also, are adding to that" (ESPNW.com, 7/8). In N.Y., Hank Gola wrote by "finally fulfilling her potential with her breakthrough win," Wie has "given her circuit some much-needed attention." But Wie is "not the only bright spot for the LPGA this year." There is Lewis’ "climb back to No. 1 and the emergence of 17-year-old Lydia Ko plus the headlines 11-year-old Lucy Li made" when she qualified for the Women's Open at Pinehurst. But Wie is "carrying herself like a star, poised and mature, for the first time." Gola: "Will it mean that womens' golf will share the stage equally with the men? Of course not. But no one has been yawning lately" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/5).

GOING TOE-TO-TOE: GOLFWEEK's Beth Ann Nichols wrote of Wie and Lewis, "If a rivalry develops between these two, we'll be sure to insert the word friendly." The LPGA "hasn’t had a good sparring match since Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam, and that was short-lived." Also, "neither particularly lit up the press room." But Lewis, one of the "best interviews on tour, welcomes the idea of going toe-to-toe with Wie." Lewis said, “I think rivals are great for any sport. I don’t think you have to hate each other because we are never going to hate each other. But I can tell you we both want to beat each other once we get on the golf course, and that’s all you need for a rivalry to work" (GOLFWEEK.com, 7/8).
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