Volume 1, Number 13 September 3, 2003

The Seoulheim Cup

Pages 1, 2, 3
It's high time the premiere event in women's golf included the Korean stars

This is a reposting of an article that first appeared September 27, 2002 on this site, after last year's Solheim Cup. It is as relevant today as ever!

Like a lot of women's golf fans, I watched and thoroughly enjoyed the Solheim Cup this weekend. For those who don't know, this is a team competition that occurs every other year. Twelve players from the United States play against twelve players from Europe. The winner gets to keep the 'Solheim Cup', and gets bragging rights for the next 2 years. As often happens with events where players represent their countries, things can get very heated, and thus the drama is often as intense as any Major. Indeed, this event is fast becoming the premiere event in all of women's golf.

Se Ri Pak: not eligible for Solheim Cup

But of course, there is one key problem with it. Namely, no matter how talented you are, you cannot play in the event if you were not born in the United States or in Europe. Now, when this event started back in 1990, that was not much of an issue, as the majority of great players in the world came from those two places. But this is a different LPGA these days. One glance at the LPGA money list will tell you that there are many great players who come from neither area. In fact, as of this writing, 5 of the top ten players would not qualify for the Solheim Cup. As recently as a few weeks ago, that number was 7 of the top ten. Among the great players who are omitted are the Australians, with superstars such as Karrie Webb and Rachel Teske; the Canadians, with Lorie Kane; the Mexicans and South Americans (no Lorena Ochoa or Marisa Baena); and of course the Asian countries such as Japan (Akiko Fukushima), the Philippines (Jenny Rosales), Taiwan (Candie Kung), and South Korea (the Seoul Sisters!!!).

Grace would add a lot to the Seoulheim Cup!

Women's golf needs as much publicity as it can get. When the most important, hyped event on your schedule willfully omits half the top players in the world, this is a big problem. It is not taking advantage of all your strengths. If you want to showcase your best, you want to see Se Ri Pak vs. Annika or Webb vs. Annika, not (with all due respect) Wendy Ward vs. Annika. So why does this situation continue? Even as long ago as 1996, when Karrie Webb was playing so well, there was talk that things might change, yet there seems to be no change forthcoming on the horizon. What's the hold up?

Those who want to keep things as they are (and they currently are the ones running the show) argue as follows: there is a tradition to this Europe vs. America rivalry. The Solheim Cup has also built up an intense rivalry in and of itself. Why mess with this? What you should do, they say, is follow the example of the men and create a second event in which the International players can compete. This First Ladies Cup (modeled after the men's President's Cup) could occur on the years when the Solheim is not played. You could make it Internationals vs. the winner of the previous Solheim, to give the Solheim players added incentive to play well (as if they need it!).

First, let me address the notion of a First Ladies Cup. In a nutshell, it wouldn't work in this day and age. First of all, it barely works on the men's side, and they have a lot more resources to make it work. Oh sure, the event is not in any financial danger. But the men, at least the Americans, are just not as interested in this event. They don't like being required to participate in an unpaid team event every year, and if they could would much rather focus on the Ryder Cup, which has far more tradition and prestige. Now, if the men's event is at best dicey, you can imagine it will be far more problematic for the ladies. First, you'd need to find a sponsor. This might be doable; a big Asian conglomerate like Samsung might be willing to step in. Next, you'd need to convince the ladies who already play the Solheim that this is worth pursuing. I haven't heard a lot of enthusiasm from them about it, though. Next the event would need to be scheduled ahead of time (i.e., the Solheim Cup already has its next two locations picked out through 2005). This is where the idea of the winner of the Solheim playing the Internationals breaks down. Say Europe wins the Solheim, and they have hosting duties for the First Ladies Cup. You now have one year to find a course in Europe and get it ready to host a world class event. Plus, if it ends up being Europe vs. Internationals, why would the LPGA be interested in supporting it? What do they get out of it? The tape delayed coverage would not get the greatest ratings, they would lose several of their stars possibly for a few weeks, they would have to suspend play on the LPGA in all likelihood for the week of the event, and because no Americans might participate, chances are it would be a tough sell for American networks.

Peanut is also not eligible for Solheim Cup!

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