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Golfers Lorena Ochoa and Juli Inkster are struggling to keep up with the influx of hard-hitting Asian women entering the LPGA Tour. Players from Japan, Taiwan and South Korea flooded the top of the Ricoh Women's British Open leaderboard this weekend with only one American, Cristie Kerr, noticeable in a high-ranking position.
There were always foreigners ensconced in the LPGA Tour. Many of the ladies play amateur golf here while attending school. So what's all the fuss about Asians sharing the spotlight?
Well, for one thing, a bogey-free round with six birdies is a tough act to follow. Even number-one seed, Lorena Ochoa, is starting to worry. "Now we can see that the Asian Tour is becoming very strong," Ochoa mentioned. "The top players are coming to the States and they can also win in the States. Before it was a different story."
Mexico's Ochoa was the "Lady of the Lake" at the Kraft Nabisco, Taiwan's Yani Tseng grabbed the LPGA Championship, Korea's Inbee Park took the U.S. Women's Open and now Ji-Yai Shin, also from Korea, easily won the British Open. Where are all of the American hopefuls?
Juli Inkster is double the age of some of the latest LPGA entrants and is feeling the heat. Although she led the Open in the first round, the American slid behind ninth place finishers, Creamer and Gulbis, on Sunday. "They're all coming," Inkster noticed. "And it's not stopping either."
With Annika Sorenstam stepping down, could Inkster be far behind? Furthermore, is this "new era" helping or hurting the LPGA Tour's television presence? With venues in jeopardy for the 2009 season, perhaps the LPGA should be looking towards Suzuki, Toyota or Honda for an influx of much needed revenue.
Dave Hollander believes that the advent of the 'Wilhelmina 7' will add much needed "exposure" to the floundering Tour. Adding an Asian golfer to the lineup could successfully incorporate these women into the fold while introducing them as a viable asset to the Tour.
Ji-Yai Shin, ranked number one on the KLPGA, originally planned her future in Japan but just received an invite to join the LPGA Tour. "I want to play here, because very big tournaments...and great players,'' she said. "Yeah, I want to play here."
In addition to a discussion on the influx of Asian golfers on the LPGA Tour, Golf for Beginners talks about our weekend round at Casperkill. A positive attitude and the ability to turn bad shots into golden opportunities were our targets as we navigated the course. Find out what we had to pull out of our bags to accomplish our goals!
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