LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship -LPGA’s Masters
As those of us who follow it know, the LPGA has emerged from darker days a few years ago, thanks to a clear-thinking and clever commissioner. Not only did the economy wreak havoc on the tour, but two of its greatest, Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam, retired early to everyone’s surprise, leaving a void of star power for a little while.
That’s all done now. The tour is thriving, expanding and doing everything in its power to be interesting to all golf devotees. A legion of stars have reemerged, with Stacy Lewis and newcomer Lydia Ko representing two of the most heralded by sports journalism.
This week, the Kraft Nabisco Championship comes around, the first major of the season, and it has been described by some as the LPGA’s counterpart to the PGA’s Masters. With his shiny new tour, Mr. Whan should have nothing to worry about, should he? Well, there are a few problems with the Masters comparison, and I only bring the subject up because I want to see an LPGA Masters played at Augusta! There, I’ve said it – can’t take it back.
The LPGA, it is said, will always remain 2nd fiddle to the PGA, especially in the majors department. That, however, depends on those of us watching. It would seem to make sense that the majority of men would be interested in watching such a competition of skills between women, but apparently, that urge is trumped by what they see as a lack of “testoneronics” in the LPGA’s game. No 380 yard drives, not enough frowning and tree-attacking, too social, not as many feuds in the press, no enduring soap operas on the players’ private lives, not enough blood (well, usually not).
The Kraft Nabisco will add a feature to complement Augusta’s par 3 competition before the tournament. Five two-person teams (celeb and player) will compete in the Tiger Woods featured video golf. Sounds like fun, but that doesn’t really smack of the Georgia atmosphere of Augusta. Added to that, the habit of the winner jumping in the pond at the Kraft Nabisco would have those poor old guys among the azaleas tearing their hair out. Picture it – Stacy Lewis jumping in the water at Augusta, beside the fact that she’d have to run back to 16. That would take some of the ginger out of it.
In short, the LPGA is too much fun for the Masters. People laugh more, hang out more and celebrate harder while the camera is trained on them. I get the impression that the LPGA players, highly competitive as they are, aim to win the day, especially the fourth one. For many men, that’s not enough. Capturing the flag may be a more apt description. There has to be something more gritty about the whole thing, more…whatever.
I enjoy the Kraft, and all the fun that goes with it, but if you want to stage a “Masters,” convince the brotherhood to hold a Ladies Masters at Augusta, with no dumbing down of the course whatsoever. Invite Mickey Wright to hit the ceremonial drive, then watch while a grim Lydia Ko hits her first drive with the proper deferential demeanor. Behold the winner standing like a British general, donning the green jacket (pink? Paula would like that) speaking like a Harvard academician for the press while looking longingly for the water over at 16.
You see, it wouldn’t work. An invasion of the LPGA into the hallowed halls of Augusta would be tantamount to Sherman invading Atlanta. The course would not make mincemeat of the players, as some of the male contingent might hope. And inevitably, the women wouldn’t be able to truly emulate the grimness associated with pursuing the prize. They’re too much fun, so if there’s really to be a Masters for the women, they’ll have to start a new tradition and make it last. The best way to do that might be to continue breaking tradition. I sure would like to see it, though – a grand championship tournament for women at Augusta – and I’m not just whistlin’ Dixie.