Monday, July 7, 2008

If a Lee Wins in NW Arkansas, Does It Make a Sound?

Woo, Anthony Kim! You're no Seon Hwa Lee, but nice win, anyway. Still, it's painful to watch Kim become the golfy media's Official Tiger Challenger du jour while Lee gets the silent treatment.

Part of the problem is that the AP hasn't replaced Doug Ferguson with a regular who has broad knowledge of the LPGA, but instead has gone with sub after sub from week to week. Noah Trister's final-round piece is certainly serviceable (and much better than Ferguson's typical phone-it-in effort from last season), but it fails to put Lee's win in perspective: 4th in her less-than-3-year career, 3rd in the past calendar year (behind only Lorena Ochoa, tied with Paula Creamer and Annika Sorenstam, and ahead of Mi Hyun Kim and Suzann Pettersen), it helped her cross the $3M mark in career winnings and come less than $10K shy of the $1M mark in season winnings. Even basic identifiers like 2005 Futures Tour money leader and 2006 LPGA Rookie of the Year are missing.

How about Brian Hewitt? He knows the LPGA pretty well, having broken a story about the strains between former best friends Inbee and Angela Park just last week. This week, he writes: "Anthony Kim now joins Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Kenny Perry on the short list of players who have won more than once on the PGA TOUR this year. That’s fast company." And joining Ochoa, Sorenstam, and Creamer as repeat winners on the LPGA Tour this season is, what? Not worth mentioning, apparently.

Jason Sobel's Weekly 18 has nothing on the LPGA despite his having written this after Lee's first win of the season:

After the firm of Ochoa, Sorenstam & Creamer swiped 11 of the first dozen LPGA titles of the year, we've now seen new champions in each of the past two weeks. Following Leta Lindley's victory at the Corning, Seon Hwa Lee took down Karrie Webb when the Hall of Famer missed a short putt on the second playoff hole at the Ginn Tribute presented by Annika--Lee's third win in as many seasons on tour.

And this might be only the tip of the iceberg for Lee. Three years ago, she was the leading money-winner on the developmental Futures Tour and she also owns three other international victories as a pro. At 20th in the Rolex Rankings prior to her win, don't be surprised to see the South Korea native in the top 10 and maybe even top five by year's end.

Jason, here's a little hint. An "I told you so" is warranted after making a prediction like that (one which I fully endorse, having picked her back in January to be #3 at season's end).

Which raises the question: does anybody check out before they file their Sunday commentary? No, wait, don't answer. I'm sure if new American Angela Park had followed up her tournament-record 62 on Saturday with a win Sunday or if American Jane Park's matching final-round 62 had held up, we'd be seeing the same kind of adulation as Anthony Kim is getting. Sure!

[Update 1 (9:43 am): Hound Dog takes the high road in his tournament epilogue, but his points about Lee's standing still hit home.]

[Update 2 (10:10 am): Ryan Ballengee updated his post on Lee's 2nd win of 2008 partially in response to this one. Those who have followed our exchange in the comments here may be interested in my comments on his post.]

[Update 3 (7/8/08, 12:12 am): Ballengee does a great job in his 7/7 LPGA radio show!]


Ryan Ballengee said...

I'm not too sure that an American winning would have drawn up more attention - unless it were Paula Creamer or the short list of Americans that the golf media knows at all. Your examples do show the disparity in coverage, though. SHL took a pretty big leap on Sunday and it barely is noticed.

The Constructivist said...

I hear ya! But beating Kerr by 5, Pressel by 7, Lincicome by 9, Gulbis and Stacy Lewis by 12, and Creamer by 17 over 3 rounds (putting aside less-well-known Americans in the field) ought to count for something....

Ryan Ballengee said...

It should. The rub here is that it is easier for the media to cover a Tiger-less PGA Tour than get to learn and understand a pretty loaded LPGA Tour. There was a piece in the St Louis Post-Dispatch asking if the LPGA Tour would be able to capitalize on Tiger's 2008 absence. The answer from the Washington Post's Len Shapiro (a golf writer)? "Hell no." Sad.

The Constructivist said...

You'd think competition, boredom, curiosity, or something would spark someone to climb that learning curve. I mean, how hard is it to check out Seoul for background and chatter? Over on their Jamie Farr thread, they've found some great local stories, including a really thoughtful one on the future of the tournament:

Bobbio said...

Don't think for a second that the dearth of American winners, Creamer aside, doesn't have the network suits shaking. They're thinking that if they ignore the globalization of women's golf, perhaps it will go away. Dances are being performed in boardrooms to get Alexis Thompson to turn pro tomorrow. If not, they think they can wait it out.

The Constructivist said...

Yeah, did you see the ratings at Shackelford's place? .7/.6 Sat./Sun.--terrible even by the LPGA's low standards!

But I wonder how many watched on streaming video?