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Jul 05

Watch Out LPGA-Phillips Sisters Are Coming

A New Team of Prodigies is Getting Started in Women’s Golf – the Phillips Sisters

If anyone was worried about where the LPGA might be going in the next ten or twenty years, you can stop it right now. Yes, Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson and Lexi Thompson will be the Grand Dames of the tour, and will supply plenty of competitive action, but all champions know that there are always new kids ready to upset the apple cart. In the case of the Phillips sisters, that reality almost borders on the absurd. I don’t get it but there they are – tiny, cute, and mega-talented at the game of golf. Yes, Mozart was composing well as a small child, and Alexander the Great was conquering empires before he could shave. Yes, I saw the destruction wreaked by Tiger Woods in his first decade on tour, and admit that I was warned. He appeared on the Late Show as a shot across the bow. I saw Venus and Serena Williams make mincemeat out of the tennis tour’s stat sheet. I am, in short, familiar with “prodigyism.”

I am surprised, however, that I have experienced the childhood of Tiger, the development of the Williams sisters, and the two little charmers, Layla and Roxy Phillips, all in the same lifetime. I am also surprised as one who could barely hang on to a club at that age (four and six), much less swing it, that these kids are playing at an excellent level, winning events, and making ready to take on the world. What happened to the incubation period for great talents? No so necessary anymore, i guess.

The interview with the Phillips girls, and the video shown of them driving and putting like real golfers takes me back to Tiger’s late show appearance. Suddenly, he was grown up, and dominating the game in a way that it had never been dominated before.by a single player.I saw the same type of interviews with the Williams family, along with the same sort of home video giving us a foretaste of what was to come. Suddenly, they too were all grown up and cutting a swath through the professional game.
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The eldest Phillips sister, at the grand old age of six, has already entered and won a Southern California drive, chip and putt competition, and has qualified for an international junior event. The younger, Roxy, says that she prefers the putting aspect. She obviously understands the “Drive for show, putt for dough” maxim already. The Phillips family used to live beside a golf course, and the girls’ mother grew frustrated with so many golf balls landing in the back yard. Falling golf balls isn’t something you want as part of your home life with small children running around – makes perfect sense. When she complained to the course, however, the response was prophetic – free golf lessons for the whole family. Experts are already analyzing the girls’ technique and overall play, and the verdict seems unanimous that they are highly exceptional.

The Phillips  family has one thing on their minds other than golf, although they are well aware that great golf would help to make it happen – and that is education. If one lives in California, is a great golfer, and has paid attention to the way Tiger Woods did it, the path forward is clear. Go to Stanford, and go on a full ride scholarship. In a day where universities are already making athletic scholarship offers to 11 year old quarterbacks, it’s not the slightest bit ridiculous to begin thinking in such a way.
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Barring some unfortunate circumstance no one can foresee, it appears as though Layla and Roxy Phillips stand a good chance of being a large part of the LPGA’s life blood in a few years. There, they will be joined by other prodigies who are sure to surface. However, the one image I can’t get out of my mind is that of Layla, six, and Roxy, 4, striding forward to accept their Stanford degrees.

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.