The LPGA Tour has found itself in the centre of not one, but several storms recently, not the least of which is the use of video and phone-in/e-mail infractions from outside the tournament that sunk Lexi Thompson in the first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration.
By the way, Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member and former PGA Tour player Richard Zokol offered his own interesting opinion on the Lexi penalty, that you can read in the Comments section at the bottom of this blog.
Whatever side you take on the Thompson issue, one thing is clear and that’s the controversy surrounding it. L’Affaire Lexi, and other incidents over the past year has caused the USGA and R&A to limit the use of video evidence and strike a working group to review other issues such as viewer call-ins.
You can read more on that here.
On the heels of that announcement came a playoff on Sunday after veteran Cristie Kerr made an admirable effort in overcoming a five-shot deficit in tough conditions at the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout.
Unfortunately for the LPGA Tour, what’s remembered right now is Kerr’s slow play in a tedious six-hole playoff played over and over on the same hole before Haru Nomura won it.
So, the LPGA, a tour that often seems to be fighting attention at the best of times despite a magnificent product, finds itself in a variety of controversies these days.
This may be piling on, but the tour has cheapened its product with news that a Twitter vote will decide the final sponsor exemption into next month’s ShopRite Classic in Galloway, N.J.
You can read more about this “out of the box” idea in this story from the Golf Channel.
ShopRite Classic executive director Tim Erensen explained the decision to use a popularity contest to determine the exemption.
“For the naysayers, if we get 10 million new eyeballs exposed to our event, that’s not only good for the winner of our contest, but for the 143 other players in the field,” Erensen said. “We need to get new people interested in the game, and if it takes out-of-the-box thinking like this, we are happy to do our part.”
It’s debatable that 10-million new eyeballs will pay that much heed to the actual event, other than to vote on a contest that features eye candy photos such as the ones used in the story.
If it does, we can all look forward to the U.S. Women’s Open about five weeks later, also in New Jersey, getting the same attention as the men’s U.S. Open with all those fans, not to mention the increased overall media exposure that the tour has been seeking.
It won’t happen. If anything, this wreaks of desperation and while the “lighten up” crowd will surely have something to say on this issue, many of those same people won’t be tuning in to the ShopRite Classic.
This isn’t to question the golfing skills of the women involved in the contest, but if one of them deserves a spot, give it to her and let the others play a qualifier along with others who deserve a spot.
After all, when we’re talking honour and respect for the game, aren’t we talking the best player in a qualifier earning a spot?
Then again, I may not be thinking outside the box with that statement.