Chris Baldwin This Week at June 8, 2005

'Plain Jane' Annika aside, there's still
nothing major about the LPGA

The LPGA holds another major this weekend. Well, if you can call something major that will have trouble drawing eyeballs away from the PGA Tour's ho-hum Booz Allen Classic, let alone the NBA finals, interleague baseball, women's college softball, poker or whatever else ESPN sticks on this weekend.

For no matter how much PC-minded journalists attempt to pump up women's golf (and even most of them have stopped trying), there is absolutely no sizzle on this tour.

Michelle Wie offered a beacon of hope, but she's threatening to become more hype than results at the tender age of 15. Almost all the curiosity over Wie has evaporated with her inability to win anything. Even high-profile junior tournaments. Wie is quickly passing the threshold from cute to annoying and it's all downhill from there. If people are sick of her before her Sweet 16, something's gone horribly wrong.

Jennifer Mario, usually our most insightful and often most hilarious blogger, is out of touch with her argument that Michelle Wie's making people watch the LPGA Championship. Maybe if it was last year, but no more.

Which puts the LPGA in serious double jeopardy. As's Doug Carey has pointed out numerous times, outgoing LPGA chief Ty Votaw may be the most overrated commissioner in the history of sports. In reality, Votaw's leaving the tour with almost as many issues as you'll find in Iraq (less serious issues, obviously, but a boatload of problems nonetheless).

Annika Sorenstam may be the best women's golfer of all-time, is certainly the most dominant athlete period of this time, and no one gives a care. Because she's not hot.

Look at the female athletes who are crossover stars today. Maria Sharapova, Danica Patrick, Serena Williams, Jennie Finch even -- they're all beautiful women. Think that's just coincidence? Then, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

Should you have to be a beauty to be a star women's athlete in 2005? Obviously not. But that doesn't change the reality that you do. Guys still make up the overwhelming majority of sports fans and they've shown little interest in watching a non-gorgeous female athlete (at least not in enough numbers to move the Nielsen dial).

Personally, I'll watch the LPGA Championship. It's a much more compelling tour than the so-called Champions Tour and its collection of geriatric golfers, beer truck drivers and Managing Editor Mark Nessmith's beloved sob stories for example. Unfortunately for women's golf, I'm in a distinct minority however.

It's high time for the LPGA's leaders and would-be saviors to recognize that. welcomes your comments.

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