New LPGA Championship: Important Women Missing

The International Crown

I’m very excited about the new event being touted by the LPGA, the International Crown. That about says it all, doesn’t it? I’ve always loved anything with the word ‘crown’ in it. When my mother was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, she sighed and said, “Emperor.” It’s my dream job.

For this crown, I’d have to play much better golf than I do, aside from some other minor adjustments. The LPGA has become masterful at finding the greatest players and ranking them accordingly. Now, however, they’re out to rank the countries that produce the best stable of players, the perfect answer to the Olympics on off years, each two. Where the Olympics take it down to the best player and her country, the International Crown’s format of match play, from teams down to singles, sets out to make entire nations look good – and not only in terms of score. There will be national uniforms and the whole nine yards.

crown 1And get this – no corporate sponsorship – nada, nil, nulla. What’s more, there’s a purse of over one and a half million, with the winning team taking home a little less than half a mil. This futuristic tournament will involve 8 four-ball teams in two brackets, and in the space of three days, five teams will advance to the finals, and singles matches, with points being rolled over into the next day. There is some resemblance to the Solheim Cup, but of course more global. The LPGA used to have the Lexus Cup, but as Mike Whan suggests, Asian countries don’t want to be teammates. They want to be opponents, especially Korea and Japan.

crown 2The U.S., home to the LPGA tour, and the site of a good percentage of its tournaments, will host the inaugural  event. It starts in Cave Valley, and eventually moves on to Rich Harvest Farms in the Chicago area. By the second event, Whan hopes to have it scheduled in mid-summer, the very heart of the tour.

There’s a problem in all of this, though. It seems that in the planning, it was not noted that countries exist with great golfers that cannot field an entire team. For instance, Norway boasts only two players in the top group from which the field would be selected, and yet is home to the sixth ranked player in the world, Suzann Pettersen. When asked about it, she was confused that a major event would be designed for the world’s top golfers, an event to which she would not be invited – tons of talent, not enough team.

crown 3 And she’s not alone. Sheshan Feng, the Chinese champion would not be invited, either. That’s one heck of a comment to make to China, poised on the edge of exploding into a golfing country. In fact, the insult doesn’t end there, but shakes the very roots of the western founder of the game. Scottish sensation Catriona Matthews would find herself excluded as well. It’s difficult to imagine that any of the three are all that happy about this format, and it does seem dubious to select the greatest golfer in the world with three of the top fifteen missing. Even if the event is designed to highlight countries who have developed the game more than others, it might just be celebrating a superior economy that decided to up its profile in the golf world.

In the end, the title has a crown in it, so I’ll be watching,  but if I were in charge of it, I’d certainly want to lower the cap over my eyes the next time I see Suzann, Sheshan or Catriona.

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