2013 PGA Merchandise Show – Morning Drive and LPGA News

The ability to follow the PGA Merchandise show from the comfort of your own home is amazing!  I am here in the cold Northeast (seven degrees this morning) and seeing updates on Twitter, Facebook, Ustream and more.

The Golf Channel Morning Drive show and the LPGA both started tweeting early in the morning that big announcements were coming.  Given I am a fan of both, I was curious to see what was “big” to each organization.

Morning Drive Announcement

The Morning Drive show is expanding to seven days a week.  Great!  They are adding to the cast.  Most of co-anchor additions make sense because they have been on the show or are members of the golf channel.  The one odd addition is Ahmad Rashad. He is an NBC broadcast “star” so I get that but what does he know about golf?  I guess we will find out soon.

The other big reveal was the new set of the show.  Below is a photo of the old set.

Morning Drive Set

TV Screen Shot of Holly Sonders on Morning Drive Set. Click image to Enlarge.

Now one thing I always liked about the current set is that it seemed “cozy” and had lots of golf memorabilia and “chotskies” on the set.  I also think the intimate feel of the set added to the relaxed style of the co-anchors.  It never felt like a “formal” news show like the evening recap show, Golf Central.

The Golf Channel provided a photo gallery of the new set.  If you click on the photo below it will take you to a cool time-lapse video of the construction of the new set.

Click on Photo to see a time-lapse video of the construction of the new set.

Click on Photo to see a time-lapse video of the construction of the new set.

The new set and staff is a clear indication of the success of the show.  I will keep an open mind but I hope what I loved most about the show does not get lost in the new high-gloss set.

LPGA Announcement

In a previous post, The LPGA’s Marketing Challenge, I noted some concerns about the tour’s perception in the American market.  Basically, the LPGA is a global tour but the American market needs a new star which I felt was Stacy Lewis.  I am happy to see that the tour is now promoting Stacy Lewis.  Stacy certainly made it easier for them by winning Player of the Year.  I am happy to see the management at the LPGA finally embracing Stacy Lewis as a tour star.

The LPGA also deserves credit for figuring out a way to capitalize on the statement they have been emphasizing all year that they are a “global tour.”  I was thrilled with the announcement of the “International Crown” by the LPGA.  It is a new match play tournament that will debut in 2014.  The tournament will be 8 countries vying for the crown. I also like the promotional video.

And to my point earlier about promoting Stacy Lewis, there is a nice video of Stacy talking about the new tournament.

I like the International Crown for two reasons.  First, the LPGA did not just follow the PGA tour and create a “Presidents Cup” for the ladies.  The Presidents Cup is the USA against the rest of the world (minus Europe).  Second, it ties nicely to the fact that golf will be part of the Olympics in 2016 and what do we all love to do during the Olympics? Cheer for our country.  The fact fans love to cheer for their country should make the International Crown a big hit among golf fans; and hopefully, bring new fans to the LPGA.

Advertisements

2012 Ricoh Women’s British Open: Questions and Answers

In my post Ricoh Women’s British Open: Forget the forecast – it’s time for women’s golf to shine five questions were posted.  Below are the answers to all the questions and more….

(1) Will Yani Tseng win back-to-back Women’s British Opens and end the slump she has been in the last few months?  No, Tseng was not able to win.  Her final score was 299 or 11 over par for the tournament (Position – Tied for 26 place).  She was even par going into the final rounds but shot 76 and 79 to end the tournament.

(2) Can Paula Creamer rebound after the loss to Jiyal Shin last week at the Kingsmill Championship?  Not completely.  Creamer did not play poorly overall but she did not really contented; but then again, no one was close to the winner.  Paula was the top American, finishing in 3rd place (final score 289, or 1 over par for the tournament).  Although she did not win, Creamer actually had an impressive last round — she was in 10th placed and moved up to 3rd place (which was great given the weather was tough during the last 18 holes.)  Creamer still seems to be having trouble with her putter.  I’m sure Creamer will eventually fix the putter issues and we will see her back in the winners circle.

(3) Will Stacy Lewis win another major and finally get the respect she deserves?  Lewis finished in 8th position at 8 over par for the tournament.  I expected Lewis to perform better at the open but she seemed to be a bit frustrated with her play.  We all know that golf is a mental game and she did not seem as mentally tough as she normally appears in tournaments.  I think Stacy Lewis is still the “big hope” for US women’s golf — in terms of being a “contender” for the world #1 position (which is important to the American golf market.)

(4) How will Lydia Ko perform playing links golf and will she outshine the professionals?  If Ko were just “any” amateur, everyone would be impressed with her 17th place finish but Ko has won two professional tournaments as an amateur and people seemed slightly disappointed by her performance.  Really?  She is still only 15, made the cut at a major, won the “low amateur” award at the Women’s British open, and finished in the top 20 — I’m still impressed.

(5) If not the youngest player, Lydia Ko, will one of the “seasoned” players have a moment of glory?  My hopes that one of the older players might win did not come to pass.  Laura Davies, the 48-year-old British player, withdrew on Saturday due to an ankle injury.  This was a real surprise because before play was suspended on Friday, Davies was playing quite well.  Julie Inkster (the oldest player at 52) finished tied for 26th at 10 over par.  She commented to the media that it was the worst weather she has faced in 30-years of professional golf.

So who won?  The winner was Jiyai Shin, the Korean player that beat Paula Creamer in the Kingsmill playoff.  It was an impressive win for Shin — she smoked the field with a score of 9 under par (279 total).  Shin was the only player under par for the tournament. Her rounds were: 71, 64, 71, and 73.  Shin really seized the opportunity (with the low score of 64) on Saturday when the weather cooperated (i.e. little wind).  Shin told the press ““That might well be the best round I have ever played…”

The title of my previous blog began with “Forget the Weather…” but that was impossible.  The weather was a huge story this week.  The first day of the tournament was a bit windy but appeared to be what players expected for links golf.  Friday was just plain awful.  After the first group completed the first 4 holes play was suspended.  And, in an unusual (but not unprecedented move) the scores of those players were scratched.

Scratching scores has caused some debate in the golf world.  I noticed many of the golf analysts that felt they should have played or at least kept the scores were men.  I think the tour did the right thing.  Let’s remember that many of the LPGA players are quite petite and do not have the additional weight men have (so being blown over for the women was a real issue).  Balance is important in a golf swing and many players said that if the wind gusted in their back swing it just blew them off balance.  Even Michelle Wie who is quite tall said on Twitter that she felt like a flag pole and added a link to this image on the LPGA website.  In my opinion, the only “misjudgement” on the part of the tournament officials — starting play in the first place on Friday.

Ricoh Women’s British Open: Forget the weather forecast – it’s time for women’s golf to shine

Due to the 2012 Olympics the Ricoh Women’s British Open was moved from July to September and time of year might have a major impact on the final results.  Why?  Because right now the big story reported from Royal LIverpool at Holylake is the weather. The players faced cold, wind, and even hail during the Pro-Am. Here is a quick video Natalie Gulbis posted from yesterday’s Pro-Am.

Of course after bad weather comes beauty as shown in this tweeted photo from Brittany Lincicome.

LPGA Player, B. Lincicome, tweets a photo of a rainbow from Royal Liverpool GC

Given the tough conditions of the weather, which golfer will shine?  What will be the “big story” (other than the weather) at the end of the tournament on Sunday?  The questions on my mind are:

(1) Will Yani Tseng win back to back Women’s British Opens and end the slump she has been in the last few months?  At the beginning of the golf season all the golf pundits were predicting another big run for Tseng but she shocked the golf world with her poor play this summer.

(2) Can Paula Creamer rebound after the loss to Jiyal Shin last week at the Kingsmill Championship?  It was a disappointing blow to Creamer to 3-putt on the final hole which forced her into a sudden-death playoff and ultimately lost with another 3-putt on the 9th playoff hole.

(3) Will Stacy Lewis win another major and finally get the respect she deserves?  Lewis is the top ranked American player and ranked #2 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings yet she still does not seem to get the exposure that other lesser ranked players get from the golf media.  However, I was happy to see that the Adam Schupak wrote a New York Times article yesterday titled Women’s Golf Money Leader Could End U.S. Drought.

(4) How will Lydia Ko perform playing links golf and will she outshine the professionals?  She has the buzz coming off her amazing win at the Canadian Open this year.  The golf writers are already focused on Ko based on the tweet (below) from Kraig Kann, the Chief Communications Officer for the LPGA.

Lydia Ko is already facing big crowds  in the Media Center at Royal Liverpool

(5) If not the youngest player, Lydia Ko, will one of the “seasoned” players have a moment of glory?  Juli Inkster is at the open on a “medical exemption” (i.e. she is back after recovering from elbow surgery and has not played the full year so she was given a special exception).  I don’t think Inkster will contend given the short amount of time she has played this year.  Perhaps another “grand dame” might have a go at it.  I’ll be keeping my eye on Laura Davies, a 48-year-old British golfer with 45 careers wins (including 4 Majors and 20 LPGA tournament wins).  If the wind is up and experience counts, Davies might just have a chance to tame the links.

There are so many other scenarios that could take place.  Another Asian golf star (other than Yani Tseng) could win.  A player that has been struggling all year (Michelle Wie comes to mind) could suddenly get her game back and win.  Or a rookie (hopefully, Lexi Thompson) could thrill the crowd and get her first major. Of course, we can’t forget all the excellent Ladies European Tour (LET) players that could hold the trophy at the end of tournament.

Whatever happens this weekend, let’s hope it is an exciting tournament because the Women’s British Open is the major golf event this weekend; and with the PGA taking a week off before the tour championship, this is an opportunity for women’s golf to take the spotlight and shine.

LPGA – First Major of the Season

This week the ladies play in the first major, The Kraft Nabisco Championship.  In many ways this is “The Masters” for the women.  I say this because it is their first major of the season (as is The Masters for the men), it has been played at the same course (Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California) since its inaugural tournament (again, The Masters is always played at Augusta National), and the winner jumps into “poppies pond” at the 18th hole as part of the tournament tradition and they are given a bathrobe when they get out of the pond. Many have said the robe is the LPGA’s version of a green jacket (o.k., it is not a green jacket but hey, it’s better than just standing in dripping wet golf clothes).

The tournament was not always a major.  It started in 1972 as the Colgate – Diane Shore tournament.  I remember watching it as a young girl and thinking how exciting it was that the company my dad worked for had a golf tournament.  In 1983 it became a major and the sponsor was Nabisco.  Amy Alcott won in 1983 and two more times.  In fact, in 1991 when she won for the third time she jumped in the pond — this was the beginning of the tradition.  The video below gives a great overview of the history of this tournament.

This year all the golf pundits are saying Yani Tseng will win.  It seems like a “no-brainer” given she has already won 3 times this year, won last week by 5 shots, and is the number one female golfer in the world.  But I’m hoping for an upset like last year.  In 2011, Stacy Lewis beat Tseng by three shots.  Below is a nice video for Stacy Lewis.

Don’t get me wrong.  Yani Tseng is an amazing player but I want an exciting major — and that will only happen if someone can challenge Tseng.  My ideal ending on Sunday would be to see Cristie Kerr go head to head with Yani Tseng and win.