With no Wie, Gulbis at the U.S. Women's Open plus Bivens controversy, it's a bad week for the LPGA
The U.S. Women’s Open is usually the LPGA’s biggest week of the season. Not only is it our nation’s tournament, it’s slotted against the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic, who aside from Zach Johnson, no one really cares about as we all start looking towards Turnberry.
But this year, the gals are going to be a bit short-changed, and in this year of all years, that is not good.
For starters, the most mainstream female player, Michelle Wie, is not here, and for once, I can safely say she got a raw deal. Wie is 12th on the 2009 money list and has five Top 10 finishes in eleven starts. No, she still hasn’t won yet, but she is back to contending regularly. There are 29 amateurs in the field and 26 teenagers in the field.
Mega-popular Natalie Gulbis, who won last year’s Evian Masters, which has a major-worthy field and purse ($3.25 million, identical to the U.S. Women’s Open), didn’t qualify either. Gulbis is also 9th in U.S. Solheim Cup standings and 39th in world rankings.
Not good enough…
These girls aren’t here because of (flawed) USGA qualifying procedures, but the real big news is on the Coup d’Carolyn that is coming to a boil at the LPGA. Some of the game’s top players, like Gulbis, Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel and others have had enough of the commissioner’s questionable leadership since 2005. Having lost numerous tour events in the past year on her watch, it seems inevitable she will be asked by the board next week to throw in the towel.
And I don’t think I’m alone when I predict things are only going to get messier from there.
I’m probably not the only one already looking towards Oakmont next year for the 2010 Open, because unfortunately in 2009, most of the drama is going to be well off the golf course.
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I checked out the 156 names for the US Open and recognized 50. One thing that I feel many have overlooked was the fact that Michelle and Natalie after playing 90 holes of golf at a major, was then required to tee off the next morning at 7:00 for the 36 hole qualifier. It was noted that Michelle bogeyed four of her last five holes to miss the cut by one stroke. Michelle had to play 126 holes of golf for six straight days, the last five...burn out! Many of my golf friends are not going to be bothered to watch the Women's US Open and I will not be watching it either.
I thought Bivens should have been fired three years ago when 13 of her staff left. She has made one bad decision after another and I think the players protest is too little, too late. There is a possibility that by years end the LPGA will lose 10 tournaments...that's 10! The damage has been done and I doubt if the LPGA can recoup. What Bivens did to SBS was very typical of a former media headhunter and bottom line advocate that will not compromise.
I think the TV ratings for the US Open will be the worst ever. It is interesting to hear the USGA execs spin their rational why they changed the rules this year. Stupid is as stupid does.
1. Are you implying that people actually care about Zach Johnson?
2. NBC really should've jumped on this one and done a "US Open Challenge" with Wie and Gulbis like they did with Roethlisberger, Timberlake, and Jordan.
I am going from watching everything I can for the women's US Open (as well as reading every news article on the internet) to not even bothering to check the leaderboard at the end.
"Wie is 12th on the 2009 money list and has five Top 10 finishes in eleven starts. No, she still hasn’t won yet, but she is back to contending regularly."
"Mega-popular Natalie Gulbis, who won last year’s Evian Masters, which has a major-worthy field and purse ($3.25 million, identical to the U.S. Women’s Open), didn’t qualify either. Gulbis is also 9th in U.S. Solheim Cup standings and 39th in world rankings."
There are about 75 girls in the field this week who probably can't say post similar resumes of the past year.
What happened to Eunjung Yi??? Last week she won the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, including a 10-under par 61 in the third round, and today she shot an opening round 9-over par 80 and is currently one stroke above dead last place!!
What a difference a week can make.
With Wie-wees inconsistencies off the tee box, I am sure she would be having some issues with this course. From looking at the early scores, this does not appear as if it is going to be a "birdie fest" as has been the case in some of the previous tournaments. Bu88les seems to struggle more than most in windy conditions and on courses with unforgiving fairways. So I would guess that she would be several strokes over par at this point if she were playing this week.
I won't miss Bu88les, but I will miss seeing Gulabis in the field (miss her already).
Regarding Bu88les deserving (or not deserving) to be in the Open, I must admit that she would have probably performed a little better than Martina Eberl, who withdrew after shooting a 44 through 9 holes (well on her way to the dreaded 88).
I think it is not so much that Bu88les had earned a spot in the field, but rather she deserved it more than some of the unknowns (like Ms. Eberl). I will admit that I do not know all the rules and criteria that the LPGA has in place for qualifying for the Open. But as I look at the field and review their performance charts (if they even have one), I am curious as to how they qualified when Wie and Gulabis and a few of the others did not.
I totally agree with all your comments regarding Bu88les and the way she has been worshiped by the press and event directors. I am also glad she is not playing this week, except for the fact that we do not get the opportunity to hear and joke about her ramblings and excuses subsequent to a poor performance.
But putting all that aside and only focusing on her accomplishments this year, lets compare her to a player that is in the tournamant via Sectional Qualifer only. Nicole Hage is in the Open field this week only because she fired a 68-76 (144) at the Wilmette Sectional a couple of weeks ago. She was right on the cut line for disqualification, but made it by one stroke. However, Nicole has not even participated in an LPGA event in 2009 (her rookie season was 2008), and her current career earnings (total) are $8,449. Wie has participated in 11 events this season alone, and at least made all 11 cuts. Hage is in the field this week and Wie is not based solely on this one two-round qualifier (note that Wie was in a different Sectional). Do you think this is a fair system for entry criteria? I think we should have qualifiers, but I also think more consideration should be directed towards a players ranking and their place on the money list or even Soleheim placement.
Again, I am not defending Wie in any way, but I think if Nicole Hage is in the field, Bu88les entry status warrants strong consideration.
Wie-wee did try to qualify through the Rockville, MD Sectional Qualifier, but she shot a 71-74 (145) and missed it by a stroke. I hear that she was doing ok until the last few holes during the second round. This has been her trade mark for the past 5 years; if there is alot on the line, Bubbles will choke at the end.
The change was not one that was likely to help market ladies golf in a bad year, but it could very easily hurt, which it did. Does the LPGA really want Wie to be forced to skip the event with the greatest TV coverage. Maybe it would be better if the LPGA made the Evian instead of the US Open their fourth Major--and maybe there should only be limited TV coverage. Then the USGA could do whatevcer they want.
Under the old rules, Fouch who was 50th last year with 375G and only 46G so far this year would have had to qualify and Wie with 435G just this year would have been exempt.
What if it were Wie who was 50th with 435G last year and only 46G this year who was the one who got the exemption only becasue of a rules change--and some obscure golfer who was left out with 435G so far this year? Would Wie critics embrace the change in the same way they are doing now?
If Wie wins a few times she may have to make a choice between the Open and the John Deere next year. I can't see that she would be swayed by any loyalty to the USGA.
Following a t10 and a t3 Wie might have done quite well this week, at least if she left her driver out of her bag--but she also might have struggled. Instead she has two weeks off to prepare for the Evian and/or the British. If Wie wins the Evian I suppose her critics will say she got an unfair advantage because she skipped the US Open.
Don't know if you've watched Wie in person lately, but I walked 18 with her at the Jamie Farr last week on Thursday. She played with Shin (current #1 on the money list) and Gulbis, all the more interesting given the drama of this week. Ochoa, the current world no. 1, was in the group behind and, as has been the case this year with fewer events, the field was loaded.
Wie was lights out, shooting 65. It seemed to me that she was the most gifted player in the field, and that she is very near the form displayed pre-injury, yet with more polish. Her only weakness is accuracy with the driver, but hit 100% of the fairways when she drew a fairway wood.
One telling and amazing instance when the talent differential was on display early, was a 184 yd. par 3. Gulbis and Shin both hit excellent shots on the green in the 20-30 foot range, requiring fairway woods. Wie pulls 6-iron, and smokes a shot that never moves off the flag to six feet, then makes the putt. She just plays in a different league.
I would suggest that, building on the observation of a previous poster, when Wie leaves the driver in her bag, she already may be the best female player in the world. Now the statistical #1 in birdies per 18 holes, Wie needs only to reduce slightly bogeys--caused more often by her errant driver--and her ascension will be complete. And going 7 under her last 10 holes on her way to a closing 64 shows she's gaining confidence in crunch time.
One person said WIe "plays in a different league" well if she is so good she should be able to qualify. How many good golfers have missed by one shot to get their Tour card or be in the US or British Open. It happens all the time so why make an exception for WIe. If she is really good it will help her get better and tougher. If she does not have the heart she will fade away. I think both she and Gulbis will be there for years to come.
For everyone who is critical of the field this week......they all qualified so good luck to them all.
You miss the most important aspect of competition. No one is denying that Bubbles has immense physical gifts. However, to paraphrase Bobby Jones, "Golf is played on a six inch fairway between the ears," and that is where Bubbles is found terribly wanting.
If you're mentally fragile, you simply cannot be the best player in the world. And it doesn't matter what clubs you pull.
Smalls is correct, Bubbles is a gifted athlete but if she does not get her head straight she cannot win.
Ray you got it right Paula is the most popular partly because she has proven tough under pressure.