The IX: Golf Thursday with Sarah Kellam, January 28, 2021
What doesn't the LPGA Tour have? — Interview with Sarah Kemp — Must-click women's golf links
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The LPGA has it all
What. A. Weekend. It was an incredible, exciting start to the 2021 LPGA season and, per what’s becoming the usual for this circuit, it was DRAMATIC. Despite the upcoming month-long hiatus, I think the adrenaline from Jessica Korda’s 25-foot birdie make on the first playoff hole to win over Danielle Kang for the first time since 2018 will keep us women’s golf fans satiated for a while.
Plus, we got to see only the fifth 60 to ever be shot on the LPGA Tour on Saturday and were treated to the Korda duo playing together in the final group on Sunday.
It was nothing short of an enjoyable week for both players and fans and, if it’s any indication of how the rest of the year will go, we have a ton to look forward to! I know I’m excited.
However, there was something in particular that struck me about this week and yet again got me thinking about the overall health of LPGA fandom and where we are .
Having been a fan of the LPGA Tour for virtually my entire life, I have had numerous conversations over the years with people about why they don’t support the Tour or choose to watch it on television. The most common sentiments expressed are often something like “I don’t like that it’s all Koreans” (a problem answer for many reasons) or “it bothers me when the winners can’t give an interview in English” or “they aren’t as fun to watch as the men” or “nobody cares because they don’t know who these people are”.
Even now, when I have these conversations, the same kinds of explanations are given and the same excuses are made. To be honest, it frustrates me because these opinions are entirely unfounded and I’m still puzzled as to why these things only seem to matter when women’s golf is concerned.
For one thing, these reasonings are, at best, a cop out for not paying attention to what actually happens on the LPGA Tour week in and week out. Do even a slight bit of research and you will easily see that there are a variety of winners from all walks of life over the course of a season and that there is plenty of talent from all over the world consistently competing for titles.
Even if for some reason you are unwilling to embrace the incredible athletes from some parts of the world as a legitimate reason for tuning out, the numbers don’t back up this casual racism. Take a look at the 2020 season. While yes, it was a condensed schedule due to COVID-19, 7 events were won by Koreans, 6 by Americans, 4 by Europeans, and 1 by a Mexican.
As far as being “fun to watch” is concerned, look at last weekend. Not only was a 60 shot on Saturday by Jessica Korda, arguably one of the biggest stars in the game, it was a battle to the very end between her and Danielle Kang, making for on-the-edge-of-your-seat golf television.
And it was like that at the CME Group Tour Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open and the Marathon LPGA Classic. I mean, Larry Fitzgerald says he watches more LPGA Tour than PGA Tour golf because of how consistently these women play. Who can argue with that?
I also think it’s forgotten by those who question the value of women’s golf that just like the PGA, Korn Ferry, and European Tours, the LPGA is a GLOBAL tour. It’s not meant to have one kind of person win all the time and it doesn’t matter if a player speaks this or that language fluently.
Just like its counterparts, if you’re good enough to compete, you’re good enough to compete and, honestly, regardless of your background, you still have to put the ball in the hole. Nothing else should matter but that.
The amalgamation of talent on the LPGA Tour is crazy good. The golf is dramatic and thrilling to watch. There are so many good players from so many different backgrounds that every fan can connect with. Professional women’s golf has become the best example of what makes this game great and showcases everything this sport has to offer.
They literally have it all! What more could you ask for?
This week in women’s golf
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Jessica Korda defeated Danielle Kang in a playoff en route to her first win since 2018. (via LPGA.com)
Jessica Korda takes home the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions title after a dramatic playoff victory. (via Golfweek)
Jessica Korda’s dramatic victory Sunday was a great start to the 2021 LPGA Tour season. (via Golf.com)
The Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions was the perfect kickoff to the 2021 LPGA Tour season. (via LPGA.com)
After shooting 60 on Saturday, Jessica Korda carried that momentum into her Sunday win in a playoff over Danielle Kang. (via LPGA.com)
Danielle Kang was seen talking on the phone heading to the first playoff hole. Here’s who she called. (via Golfweek)
Danielle Kang has some positive takeaways after her loss to Jessica Korda. (via LPGA.com)
Nelly Korda was happy to see her big sister win again on Sunday. (via LPGA.com)
The Korda family represented in Orlando last week, with Jessica and Nelly paired in the final group and their parents in town to watch. (via LPGA.com)
It’s more love than rivalry for Jessica and Nelly Korda on and off the golf course. (via LPGA.com)
The Korda sisters were paired together Sunday in the final group for the first time ever. (via GolfChannel.com)
Jessica Korda made history on Saturday shooting the fifth 60 ever on the LPGA Tour. (via Golfweek)
Larry Fitzgerald and Brett Baier just tried to “get out of the way” during Jessica Korda’s historic third round. (via LPGA.com)
A 60 for Jessica Korda on Saturday at the TOC is only the fifth ever on the LPGA Tour and the first since 2008. (via Golf Digest)
More on Jessica Korda’s 60 on Saturday in Orlando. (via GolfChannel.com)
A 28 on the back nine propelled Jessica Korda to a historic round of 60. (via Golf.com)
Check out the latest episode of the Forward Press podcast featuring Beth Ann Nichols talking about the TOC, the Olympics, and Lexi Thompson. (via Golfweek)
There was a lot of criticism from fans about NBC’s coverage of the final round of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions on Sunday. Here’s a deeper dive into what went wrong. (via TheFriedEgg.com)
Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz appeared on the No Laying Up podcast to discuss the controversy over Sunday’s coverage of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions final round. (via Golfweek)
This LPGA Tour winner got engaged after her round on Friday in Orlando. (via Golfweek)
Jasmine Suwannapura got engaged on Friday on the 18th green following her second round. (via LPGA.com)
Jasmine Suwannapura walked away from her second round on Friday as an engaged woman. (via Golf Digest)
There were two teenage girls competing in the celebrity division at the TOC last week. Learn more about these future superstars! (via Golfweek)
Stacy Lewis is working hard to make the 2021 Solheim Cup team. (via Golfweek)
With a berth in the 2021 Diamond Resorts TOC, Stacy Lewis finally took Chesnee to Disney World after promising they would go after her win in Scotland. (via LPGA.com)
In Gee Chun is finally feeling good about herself and her game mentally again after struggling with doubt and up and down moods. (via LPGA.com)
Lexi Thompson promises big changes to her putting during the upcoming month off from LPGA Tour play. (via Golfweek)
Many LPGA Tour players were in awe of getting to play with Annika Sorenstam at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. (via Golfweek)
Annika sees fruits of her labors championing girls junior golf playing with LPGA Tour stars at the TOC. (via LPGA.com)
Annika Sorenstam has been working with Danielle Kang and giving advice to other players on the LPGA Tour. (via GolfChannel.com)
Annika remains under scrutiny for her relationship with Donald Trump and Christine Brennan thinks she missed an opportunity to separate herself from the former president. (via Golfweek)
The LPGA Tour won’t have fans back anytime soon in 2021. (via GolfChannel.com)
U.S. Women’s Open qualifying is back for the 2021 edition. (via Golfweek)
The USGA announces that qualifying will be returning for the U.S. Women’s Open. (via LPGA.com)
Beth Ann Nichols caught up with Amy Olson in this fascinating Q&A. (via Golfweek)
Brittany Lincicome continues to give back to The First Tee of St. Petersburg through the latest edition of her Brittany & Friends celebrity Pro-Am. (via LPGA.com)
Shirley Spork is very proud of how far the LPGA has come. Check out a clip from an interview Golf Channel did with her. (via GolfChannel.com)
A brand new event has been added to the 2021 Symetra Tour schedule. (via SymetraTour.com)
Tweet of the Week
Five at the IX: Sarah Kemp, Australian LPGA Tour player
When did you first decide that you wanted to be a professional golfer, and how has that choice influenced your life?
That’s a tough question to answer. My parents bought me a cut-down set of clubs that I mucked around with when I was eight or nine, but I only liked golf then because I could find a bunch of random stray balls on the course with my Mum & Dad and sell them for meat pies. I didn’t really take the game seriously until I was 12. I’ll never forget playing in my first tournament at that age and winning a pair of Karrie Webb socks. It felt like I won the Australian Open.
When I was 15, I got down to a scratch handicap and won a pretty big amateur tournament in Australia. That’s when I thought about maybe doing this for a living one day. I had no idea what I was signing up for — but I wouldn’t change a thing. Life as a professional golfer is very hard. But it’s also very rewarding. I could never thank or repay my parents for all they sacrificed to give me this incredible life.
What has been your biggest takeaway from your time on the LPGA Tour? What’s something that you think people should know about the Tour and playing on it?
I think a lot of people understand this but, unfortunately, a lot of people still don’t get it because they haven’t seen us play in person. The talent level on the LPGA is incredible. I’ve been out here for over a dozen years and it keeps getting better. If you look at our stats, the driving accuracy numbers and greens in regulation numbers are higher than the men. I’m not sure the casual fan knows that. I’ve played with the best players in the world throughout my career, and I’ve always walked away nothing short of amazingly impressed.
What has been your biggest challenge being a professional golfer? What has been your biggest success or most gratifying moment?
My biggest challenge, by far, has been the time spent away from home. While I now have a family in Orlando, it’s hard being away from my parents, sisters, nieces, nephews and friends. I do my best to go home three or four times a year. But flying home to Australia is a tough trip. There’s a big difference between flying to Australia from America and flying to Europe. A 15-hour flight with the time change is rough. But I do it because I love being home and seeing my family so much.
I think all Australians have this incredible Australian pride. Being home is unlike anything else for me. Plus, the coffee is so much better than anywhere else on earth. I’m now based in Orlando but home will always be Australia. I’m really close with my family and only being able to see them a couple times a year isn’t ideal.
From a player’s perspective, what needs to change in how women’s golf is covered by the media and supported by fans and sponsors?
I think a lot of people understand this but, unfortunately, a lot of people still don’t get it because they haven’t seen us play in person. The talent level on the LPGA tour is incredible. I’ve been out here for over a dozen years and it just keeps getting better. If you look at our stats, the driving accuracy numbers and greens in regulation numbers are higher than the men. I’m not sure the casual fan knows that.
I’ve played with the best players in the world throughout my career, and I’ve always walked away with something they do that is often hard to explain. I could never tell you what makes Inbee Park one of the best putters of all time. Watch her. She rarely bends down to read a putt. She just sees it. I couldn’t explain how Lexi Thompson is known for her power but hits more greens than almost anyone. Stacy Lewis is one of the best competitors of all time — man or woman. So I guess what people should know is we’re as good as the guys but maybe for different reasons.
How important is it to you to utilize your platform as a female golfer to affect change both on the course and off it?
The word that first comes to mind is more. I don’t just think we deserve more — I know we deserve more. Like I said earlier, I don’t think the casual golf fan realizes how good we are. This game is hard. Anyone who plays it understands how hard it is. I wish we had more primetime television coverage. I wish we had more prominent spots on Golf Channel shows. But again, unfortunately, the LPGA is usually buried on Golf Channel. We’re an afterthought.
I can only speak for myself, but I’m grateful that Golfweek sends Beth Ann Nichols to cover us the way it does on a regular basis. Randell Mell used to do the same for Golf Channel but, from what I saw on Twitter, he was let go last year. I don’t think we have a dedicated writer who covers our tour now from Golf Channel, and it sends a clear message that we aren’t as important as the men. It’s not a message I’m not okay with and I know a lot of my fellow tour players would agree. We deserve more.