Congrats to Annika Sorenstam and her husband, Mike with the new birth of their baby boy!
“LPGA communications officer David Higdon said the tour was surprised by the timing of State Farm’s announcement, but admitted they were “certainly on our worry list.” – ARTICLE
I don’t know which sponsors are on that “worry” list, but I would imagine that that list is considerably longer than the “no worries” list. Maybe it’s time to see if Bobby McFerrin can intervene on Whan’s behalf and personally help with shoring up those sponsors on the longer “worry” list.
“I don’t think it matters if I’d want to do it or not. I don’t think it will ever happen. I firmly believe it will never happen and I’ve made peace and come to terms with that.” – Former LPGA Tour Player and current NBC Sports Golf Analyst Dottie Pepper, commenting on the likelihood of ever becoming a Solheim Cup captain.
First off, I like giving my readers valuable golf resources… if you haven’t subscribed to the FREE weekly online subscription to GlobalGolfPost.Com, maybe you should. It’s like reading a real paper golf magazine, except it’s online. Plenty of great content, covering much more than just run-of-the-mill PGA Tour stuff. Every Monday morning I get an email from GlobalGolfPost informing me that the weekly issue is ready, with a link provided. And it’s absolutely free, no strings attached. FWIW – former Golf Channel analyst Brian Hewitt is the Senior Editor there, and has done a nice job moving on from his stint at TGC.
Secondly, as it relates to Dottie Pepper….
I might differ with a few of her opinions, but she’s clearly one of the most knowledgeable golf analysts covering the game today. And quite frankly – she’s better than the men I listen to week in and week out. I admire her candidness, and she’s got a great take on the pulse of the game from both the mens’ and the ladies’ side. If she never gets selected to captain a US Solheim Cup team, it will severely disappoint me as a fan of the LPGA Tour. She’s more than earned her shot, and just because she might have made a comment out of frustration on an open mike – that shouldn’t disqualify her from consideration. If anything, to me – it just reflected the passion that she has about the event.
“It’s a pretty big deal! I went to Barnes & Noble [Tuesday morning] to get a copy. I’ve been featured in SI’s “Top 50 Hottest Athletes of All Time,” but this is one of those bucket-list things.” - Winner of last season’s “Big Break – Dominican Republic” on the Golf Channel and current LPGA Futures Tour Player Blair O’Neal, commenting on her recent swimsuit ad for Cobra Golf in this week’s edition of Sports Illustrated.
The LPGA Tour is clearly not your Grandmother’s Tour anymore…. and Cobra Golf’s ad? Clever and provocative marketing, needless to say. It got my attention.
For the LPGA Futures Tour Q&A Session with Blair O’Neal on her latest swimsuit ad and her future LPGA ambitions, click HERE.
Not sure what to make of this… on one hand I think it could send a message to some of the fans across the country that the ladies aren’t above coming out and playing for charitable reasons and the love of the game, but could it also send the (obvious) message that their product is overvalued to begin with? (Not because they’re women, but because of the lack of overall interest….)
Is this a compassionate gesture, or has Michael Whan and Co. basically run out of ideas to better market their product?
In light of some of the information being released to the public, I feel less inclined to assume that Erica Blasberg’s doctor friend – Dr. Thomas Hess – was directly related to her death. But I do find it interesting that Hess’s wife has left him since, despite his insistence that he and Erica Blasberg never entered into a sexual relationship. And despite Erica’s alleged history of dating married men.
It appears that only a few people were truly aware of the emotional struggles that Erica Blasberg was dealing with in her life, and sadly none of them were close enough to her to know that she was manically depressed the weekend she took her own life. There were some obvious signs that things were spiraling out of control, but no one took the time to pay close enough attention.
As with most senseless tragedies, there will always be doubts and lingering questions of how and why. In the end, only God knows.
This is an absolute travesty. Yes, I understand that Obstruction of Justice is a misdemeanor in most states. But when it involves the tampering of physical evidence surrounding a highly suspicious death?
Sorry… call me whatever you want, but had that been me, you, or anyone else found guilty of this charge as it relates to this situation – we would be up a shit creek without a paddle. We’d be banned from ever practicing medicine ever again, and that would be AFTER we completed a lengthy prison sentence.
One year of probation and 40 hours of community service? Ha!
Okay, so this wasn’t one of professional golf’s most inspiring years.
Alas, it was the November from hell.
November, 2009: It all started with a little tainted urine from a journeyman PGA touring pro who became the PGA Tour’s first official offender of the tour’s drug testing policy. Doug Barron claims that the drugs that caused him to test positive were prescribed by a personal physician for a health condition, medication that was essentially needed for quality of life reasons. Nevertheless, his appeal was denied and the 1-year suspension stood. Barron was last seen in his backyard trying to impress his neighbors by bench pressing his Volvo.
November 27, 2009: All hell broke loose at the luxurious gated community of Isleworth, courtesy of an intercepted text message and a fire hydrant that just so happened to violently dart in front of the luxury SUV driven by Tiger Woods. Meanwhile Bill Clinton sits at home eating leftover turkey and chuckles while watching ESPN news.
February, 2010: The taxman cometh and a Champions Tour veteran couldn’t runneth. Jim Thorpe was found guilty of tax evasion charges, more than $2 million worth matter of fact, was then suspended by the PGA Tour, and is currently serving a year in prison. Word has it that Thorpe has successfully chipped over 10,000 golf balls into his corner toilet over the past 6 months. His putting is reportedly a little yippish, however.
April 23, 2010: The golf world was shocked to learn that the LPGA’s top star is retiring from golf. 28-yr-old Lorena Ochoa officially announced her retirement, with plans of starting a family and continuing her charity foundation in her free time. With 27 LPGA Tour wins, including 2 major championships, the LPGA said goodbye to a great competitor and a wonderful ambassador for women’s golf.
May, 2010: The taxman cometh, again. This time from the Danish tax authorities, who were wondering how European Tour player Soren Hansen could live in two different countries at the same time. Hansen avoided jail time, but had to pay a hefty sum of 750,000 Euro. How do you say “f**k me” in German?
May 2010: Futures Tour player Erica Blasberg was found dead in her Henderson, Nevada home after she texted her caddie the evening prior to tell her that she wasn’t going to be at the qualifying round in Mobile, Alabama two days later. Her caddie (Missy Pederson) felt that something wasn’t right when she received the text the next morning. She texted Erica back, hoping to hear that nothing was wrong, but got no response. Several hours later the local authorities found her dead, and the investigation went on for months. In late August, the investigating authorities concluded through the autopsy that Blasberg had toxic levels of prescription drugs in her system and had taken her own life. But another angle of the story involving a personal acquaintance – Dr. Thomas Hess – would emerge, making the suicide ruling look very suspicious. You can read more on this story HERE and come to your own conclusion.
August 2010: The PGA Tour suspended rookie Matt Every for 3 months, for conduct unbecoming a professional. Every was arrested at an Iowa hotel back in July and charged with possession of a controlled substance (marijuana). He has reportedly taken a maintenance position at Bushwood Country Club, under the tutelage of Carl Spackler.
August 2010: Professional golf would once again take a nut-knocker with the alleged cheating scandal on the LPGA tour, courtesy of Shi Hyun Ahn and Il Mi Chung. The evidence that something improper occurred was overwhelming, but a brief Barney Fife investigation by the LPGA Tour concluded that nothing improper happened and it was just a “confusing” miscommunication problem. Uh, Yeah. Okay. So two players played the wrong balls on the final hole. One player allegedly knew about it, then informed the other player about it, then both players signed for their scores anyway without taking the penalty… then one of the players allegedly told her caddie that he didn’t see anything. Uh, sure. Move along folks, nothing to see here. Or at least that was the tour’s response. And you can read more about that HERE.
But there were a couple of silver linings, nevertheless.
The PGA Tour learned that it could survive a Tiger-less season of golf. While Tiger Woods was figuring out a way to reenter a public life inside the ropes, the tour kept on keeping on. New faces emerged. Old faces reemerged. And the drama and excitement of professional golf at the highest level didn’t blink an eye, at least to the real golf fanatics of the universe.
Old grooves, new grooves, blah blah blah… So much for the USGA thinking that the shallower grooves on golf clubs would impede the bomb-and-gouge era in golf. Paul Goydos? Stuart Appleby? Both carded historic rounds of 59 within a month of each other this season. A couple of near-misses with rounds of 60 were posted as well by a few other players. Nah, the bomb-and-gouge era is still alive and doing well, grooves be damned.
And for all of the criticism that Tim Finchem deals with on a weekly basis, it is worth noting that he’s done a pretty damned good job keeping PGA Tour sponsors on board despite a stagnant economic recession. The tour has lost a few sponsors in the process, but has picked a few up in return, and is in the process of securing a few more in the near future. Given the enormous challenges that the tour has faced regarding maintaining steady title sponsorship, Finchem has managed things very well. I think the tour will make it for a few more years, at least.
With the PGA Tour Playoff finale at East Lake only a week away, and the 2010 Ryder Cup only a few more after that, the last chapter for this season in golf awaits to be written. But overall it has been a great year in golf, and next season should be even better. Maybe with a few less police blotters involved, but better.
On Thursday afternoon at the CN Canadian Women’s Open, Shi Hyun Ahn and Il Mi Chung were finishing up the final hole of the round with their third playing competitor in the group – Danielle Downey. Both Ahn and Chung found the fairway off the tee, and Ahn missed on her approach, while Chung hit the green in regulation. Both would go on to record pars.
Or so everyone thought.
Shortly after Ahn tapped in for her par-save, she entered into a conversation with Chung, in their native Korean language. And according to THIS secondhand account of the incident by a long-time looper on the LPGA Tour, Larry Smich, something peculiar was taking place. According to Smich, Ahn and Chung had just realized that they had mistakenly played the others’ ball from the fairway. And Ahn allegedly informed her caddie afterward, “You did not see anything.” According to Smich, Ahn’s caddie last week was a temporary fill-in for Ahn’s regular caddie, and he normally loops on the Nationwide Tour.
A couple of different stories emerge at this point in the controversy, but the most credible version is that Ahn’s caddie told Downey’s caddie that there was a problem, but also said that he wasn’t going to say anything. Regardless, both Ahn and Chung went to the scoring tent and signed their scorecards as though nothing inappropriate had occurred. Downey’s caddie had other plans, however. He was going to report the incident to the tour rules officials, and at that point Ahn and Chung decided that they should seek out a rules official and inform them of what had happened before being ratted out.
As a result, both Ahn and Chung were disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. But the story doesn’t end there.
The LPGA is actively investigating the incident by talking with everyone involved, and depending on what is revealed in those interviews, will deliberate on a proper course of action. LPGA communications chief, David Higdon, said “We have treated this situation very seriously, and have or will speak to all principles involved. Yes, we are looking very closely at it.“
Cheating in professional golf is a serious offense that has traditionally come with stiff punishment. Back in 1972, LPGA player Jan Blalock was suspended by the tour for alleged instances of cheating (for lifting her ball and then replacing it closer to the hole). The tour’s executive board intervened and questioned Blalock about the allegations, of which she denied. But 29 players on the tour signed a petition requesting that Blalock be suspended, and the committee responded in kind – suspending her for one year. Blalock sued the tour and won a temporary injunction, enabling her to continue playing that season. The court eventually found that the LPGA was in violation of antitrust laws, but Blalock’s career was forever tainted because of the alleged incidents of cheating.
The story that evolved last Thursday appears to be fairly straight-forward. If Ahn’s caddie was told “You did not see anything” by his player, and he is forthcoming about it, then I suspect that a significant suspension will be levied for both Ahn and Chung. Or at least I would hope so. The integrity of the game could hang in the balance with the decision, should the allegations indeed be founded.