The Carolyn Bivens era of the LPGA is over and only one member has come to her defense—one of the founders, who is considered too far removed to be a viable force. So it is said of Louise Suggs, elderly, but full of fire.
For all of Bivens’ faults, the one disturbing factor in the present-day LPGA is one of foreign invasion. This is ticklish subject because it involves race, and when Bivens attacked in in her own blunt manner, she found herself isolated. She made a proposal that foreign-born players who did not speak English should be suspended. Applied to the PGA Tour, that would have shot down the current Masters champion, who just two years ago held our national championship. I speak here of Angel Cabrera of Argentina.
In effect, it would have wiped out a big hunk of the LPGA membership.
Frankly, the South Korean effect has taken its toll on the LPGA. The daily list of leaders regularly includes a collection of names such as Choi, Sung, Song, Kang, Park, Yang and Pak. Among the early leaders in the U.S. Women’s Open championship this week were Choi, Park, Kung , Ji and several Kims. Low American was Christie Kerr, followed by low Latino Lorena Ochoa. The Mexican Ochoa is American-educated and speaks fluent English, thus meeting all of Bivens’ language criteria.
Not to suggest that the commissioner—she was the first female who occupied that chair, by the way—in her own way was attempting a cleansing of the ranks, but how else would one view the move? The truth is, when a true fan of golf turns to the daily sports section and finds the list of leading scorers in the LPGA tournament made up of a confusion of names few can relate to, the tour suffers.
This is something over which Bivens had no control. The Asians—mainly South Koreans— come to this country, well-coached and trained—in every category but language—and qualify for the Tour in proper order, just as did the Kerrs, Inksters, Pressels and Gulbises. They have their card. They belong, but through no fault of their own, their very presence in such numbers is dragging the LPGA down.
Tournament sponsors are bailing out. Seven just this year and surely more to come in ’10. Say what you will, but could the presence of Judy Rankin or Dottie Pepper in the chair—Jan Stephenson came from abroad herself—be a cure?
Say what you will, but the tour is being done in to a great extent by the Asian influence.