Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Globalization Watch: PGA vs. LPGA

Now that Team USA has beaten up on the Internationals in the President's Cup as badly as they did the Europeans in the Ryder Cup, it's time to revisit a back-and-forth between Vince Spence (the 1 and only One-Eyed Golfer) and I last month over my claim that the "globalization of men's golf is about a decade behind the world of women's golf." Vince pointed to the concentration of the world's top female players on 1 tour as evidence of the reverse. In my response, I distinguished globalization from both internationalization and regionalization to support my point. But now, there's a quicker way. Consider what might happen if the Lexus Cup (the women's game's now-defunct equivalent to the President's Cup) were being played this season.

If everyone eligible to play teed it up, the Internationals would look like:

Lorena Ochoa (Rolex Rankings #1, LPGA money list #5)
Ji-Yai Shin (RR #2, $ #1)
Ya Ni Tseng (RR #5, $ #8)
Karrie Webb (RR #8, $ #11)
Ai Miyazato (RR #9, $ #2)
In-Kyung Kim (RR #10, $ #6)
Song-Hee Kim (RR #11, $ #13)
Na Yeon Choi (RR #12, $ #10)
Eun-Hee Ji (RR #15, $ #12)
Sakura Yokomine (RR #18, JLPGA money list #2, enough to be in 4th on the LPGA list)

Let me pause there and note that only Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Angela Stanford, and Michelle Wie have records in the same league as these 9 players. Team USA's mid-level players--Kristy McPherson, Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lincicome, and Brittany Lang--would have to hope for captain's picks onto their competitors' squad. Would you really take any of them over Shinobu Moromizato (RR #20, ¥ #1), Lindsey Wright (RR #21, $ #17), Seon Hwa Lee (RR #24, $ #27), Mi-Jeong Jeon (RR #25, ¥ #4), Momoko Ueda (RR #26, winnings of over $650K on the LPGA and JLPGA combined), Katherine Hull (RR #27, $ #28), Candie Kung (RR #29, $ #23), Yuri Fudoh (RR #30, the JLPGA's only Billion-Yen Woman), Sun Young Yoo (RR #31, $ #21), Ji-Hee Lee (RR #32, ¥ #6), or Chie Arimura (RR #33, ¥ #3)? These 11 players are all ranked higher than Lang.

With players from Korea (9), Japan (6), Australia (3), Taiwan (2), and Mexico (1) among the contenders to take on Team USA (whose 3rd foursome would probably include Christina Kim, Juli Inkster, Stacy Lewis, and Natalie Gulbis or Pat Hurst), is there any doubt who would have the advantage in such a competition?

[Update 1 (10/13/09, 12:13 am): Jay Busbee indirectly supports my point with a small correction to his title--adding "male" before "golfers." If the U.S. still dominates the world, your game isn't as globalized as you think it is, PGA.]

[Update 2 (12:21 am): Geoff Shackelford misses a chance to point out that Tim Finchem is following a trail the Brand Lady blazed.]


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I'm buying into the premise of this. Your use of "globalization" implies that the LPGA or at least women's professional golf is intentionally going out to other countries to bring in players.

This is patently not true.

The only real addition to the LPGA Tour over the last 10 years has been the huge influx of Korean golfers. The LPGA had nothing to do with this - these women had two big names break out (Grace Park and Se Ri Pak), and the rest followed, bouyed by a huge nation push. They got good and came over here to test their skills against the best.

I think that if you compare the rosters of the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour, you'll find more countries represented (even though they don't actually represent their country) than on the LPGA Tour.

The Constructivist said...

Globalization is a process that's bigger than the LPGA. There's no implication of recruitment in the term as it's used by political scientists and economists. The fact that there are so many Korean golfers at the top of the women's game is relevant because it shows the U.S. is no longer the dominant nation, talent-wise, in the world of women's golf. One of the big ones, to be sure, but one of several from North America, Europe, and Asia.

Counting countries represented on tour doesn't measure globalization, either. It's the numbers of golfers on tour from major regions that matter and the ratios between those from traditional golf powers like the U.S., Europe, Australia and newer ones from the Asia-Pacific. What makes the LPGA further ahead of the PGA in this regard is the numbers of Asian women golfers, not just from Korea, but from Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and China (with more coming soon via Q-School or other pipelines).