- the youth movement in women's golf;
- the joy of rivalries and races; and
- the globalization of the game.
[Update 1 (2:40 am): Jason Sobel discusses Schwartzel's PGA Tour breakthrough right alongside "LPGA parity" in his Weekly 18 (which would have been improved if he'd included JLPGA and LET/ALPG results on his chart documenting how the lead chase pack is closing on the best of the LPGA), while the Golf.com guys joke about the internationals' success on tour:
Dusek: I love that Dan Hicks said this is a coming out for Schwartzel, then a minute later mentioned that he won the first two events on the European Tour this season. I guess results outside the United States aren't important or legitimate.
Van Sickle: Yeah, typical American blinders. What he means is, HE doesn't pay attention to results outside the U.S. Like a lot of people.
Shipnuck: We do possess the Ryder and President's Cups, but it seems like all the exciting young talent is from overseas, except Mr. Layup, Rickie Fowler.
Godich: With all due respect, when Matt Kuchar is carrying the flag at Doral...
Van Sickle: Alan's right. It won't be long before the cliche storyline will be the same one taken from the pages of the LPGA--why can't the Americans win? The simple answer is, it's the U.S. against the world now as golf has gone global, and we're badly outnumbered.
Evans: Don't buy what they tell you on TV. The U.S. has a ton of a great talent. The success of a handful of South Africans and Europeans doesn't mean that America needs to start rebuilding its junior programs. Numbers-wise and consistency, the rest of the world is no match for the U.S. And don't pay attention to the World Rankings, which favor players who play international schedules.
Dusek: So ignore the fact that going into Doral, Europe had six players ranked in the top 10 and 20 players in the top 50?
Van Sickle: Excuse me? Forget the Ryder Cup against Europe. The U.S. could have a pretty tough match just against England. Or Australia. Or South Africa. Probably not Fiji.
Shipnuck: Farrell is correct that some random Asian tourneys get too many points. I think the World Ranking has gotten much more sensitive and accurate. Don't count out our boys. The last few Cups the U.S. has had great chemistry and played better than their individual parts.
Van Sickle: Sorry, Alan. I forgot what a big backer of the U.S. teams you have historically been.
Shipnuck: Well, Mrs. Pavin did ask me to be her Valentine via Twitter!
Herre: Wonder if Captain Corey has spoken with Azinger yet?
They slay me! I prefer Sobel's analysis: the top-shelf Americans are probably about as good as ever, but the internationals are catching up in the next rank in a big way.]
[Update 2 (10:32 am): To see how global the women's game is, check out the ALPG money list, which includes winnings from non-members as well as members.]