The UL International Crown, a new way to view team golf

What’s one of the big reasons why we love sports? To witness greatness, to witness competitive play from some of the most talented human beings (horses if you’re talking horse racing) in the world.

But what fuels the passion? In most cases it’s the teams and the rooting interest in those teams.

That’s what the UL International Crown brought last week as it brought fans from all over the world to watch theor countries duke it out. The event took place at the Merit Club in the Chicago area and the ladies not only had to battle the course and each other, but they also had to battle the heat, as Chicagoland had one of its hottest weeks in history.

The heat was so bad, that team England star Charley Hull had to miss the Friday round due to illness. She came back firing off all cylinders and ended up finishing strong.

I had the chance to cover the Saturday round and taking in the atmosphere, it certainly had a Ryder Cup feel to it. Only difference is that there are eight teams compare to two teams in Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup.

This is what makes the UL International Crown such a great tournament. It’s not limited to two squads to root for, there are eight teams so there is rooting interest for everyone no matter who you are or where you’re from.

Certainly, a fan from China can root for team Europe or team USA in the Solheim Cup as it doesn’t matter who you root for. However, the fact that team China is a squad in the UL International Crown adds to that home team feeling and is closer to your heart as a fan.

The Merit Club, located in the Chicago area was a great host. Chicago is known as one of the best sports towns on the planet with teams like the Bears, Bulls, Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks and Fire representing the city’s deep sports culture.

In the interview room, team USA addressed the media center and I had the chance to ask them what it meant to play in such a big team event in a town that is crazy about their sports. Here’s what Stacy Lewis had to say.

“I think that it’s great that we’re in this city. We’re going to be here in the next couple here the next couple of years with the KPMG tournament, as well.” Lewis said. “So it’s a market that we did well in with the Solheim Cup. I think it’s a great place for us to be playing, and hopefully we can get playing here more consistently, not just big events and majors.”

Lewis continued:

“Maybe get something a little more consistent.” Lewis said. “We were talking about it in the car ride on the way home, just the number of cities that have multiple sports teams in the same sports, and Chicago is one of not very many in that aspect. It’s a cool city, and we got to take part in it last night”.

Chicago is one of those towns that does make you discuss sports. It’s a city that can compare to other cities with multiple teams as Lewis mentioned.

This is why it would be great for the UL International Crown to continue having tournaments in major sports towns around the world. Teams help fuel a sports fan’s interest and it’s very marketable as well.

Although the individual sport is great and brings out the mental toughness of the best golfers, the team game brings a fire. As we’ve seen, college golf has increasingly gotten popular due to the drama of alternate shot among other formats as well as being live on Golf Channel.

The UL International Crown was also a great test before the Olympics in Rio next month. All eight teams were able to get a taste before the big games as the tournament was dramatic and ended with a team USA victory.

So although the UL International Crown is still a relatively new event, with so many teams reeling in fans from all over, it can blossom into something bigger.

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Why it’s looking nothing but up for the LPGA Tour

Pictured are LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan, LPGA superstar Inbee Park and the famed LPGA Tour logo

 

With the new professional golf season starting and the sunset of the 2014 season behind us, it’s time for another exciting of professional golf. The PGA Tour is now in full swing (See what I did there?), Web.com Tour looks to have another great season of rising stars and challenging golf courses and the Champions Tour looks to capitalize on its phenomenal 2014 season.

 

However, one tour stands out from the rest. The LPGA Tour just absolutely dismantled the odds in 2014 and was by far the best tour of the year.

 

The majors proved exciting which resulted in wins by Lexi Thompson, Inbee Park, Michelle Wie, Mo Martin and the 19-year old Kim Hyo-joo. Inbee just added to her already dominate resume, Michelle broke through and got a great win and Mo won the Women’s British Open with an unbelievable shot.

 

Only the LPGA Tour provided us with these moments. As great as the other tours were, the LPGA conquered professional golf in 2014.

 

It seemed like in almost every tournament, the top players on the tour were towards the top of the leaderboard whether it was Inbee, Stacy Lewis, Lydia Ko, Jessica Korda, Lexi or anyone else, all of the tops were at the top. This while also seeing some fresh faces hanging in there as well and that’s always exciting when you see an unfamiliar player give a star a battle.

 

 

Another amazing thing, and this is my opinion, is that 2 of the top 3 players on any tour are on the LPGA Tour. I believe Inbee is the best player in the world right now on any tour and I’ve been guilty of putting Stacy Lewis over her but within the past 2 or 3 years, Inbee is the best player in the world on any tour.

 

Rory Mcilroy is definitely the second best on any tour but Stacy Lewis is right behind him despite being behind him in majors. If I were to throw a fourth player in there, it would no doubt have to be Bernhard Langer. He’s just made a mockery of the Champions Tour.

 

But Inbee is the best player to me. She has more majors than Rory, she’s won three straight majors in a year (2013) and they’re both practically the same age. Rory’s only a year younger.

 

Rory and Henrik Stenson are the top two players in the Official World Golf Rankings. I’d take Inbee and Stacy over them any day of the week. The only thing is, the dudes will likely hit the ball further.

 

However, they wouldn’t have a prayer in the accuracy category against these ladies. Not just Stacy and Inbee, but a good majority of the women on the LPGA Tour are just dead on accurate off the tee. This is where Rory and Henrik would get destroyed against dangerous players like Inbee and Stacy.

 

Not saying that the two men aren’t accurate. Henrik alone is arguably the most accurate player on the PGA Tour but the women will practically nail every fairway.

 

Now if this was 3-on-3 then it would be Rory, Henrik and Adam Scott vs Inbee, Stacy and Lydia Ko. Lydia, the world number one player on the LPGA, is an accuracy machine and would give Adam a run for his dough if she was able to hit it as far as he does.

 

That’s how good these ladies are and I think golf fans everywhere are starting to notice. What to expect this year on the LPGA Tour?

 

It’s anybody’s guess but I think it’s going to be a phenomenal season once again and commissioner Mike Whan has just done an unbelievable job with the tour. I’ve personally always been a fan of the LPGA Tour and the class they show and they deserved 2014 and I think they’ll catch 2015 and beyond.

 

Another awesome thing? Christina Kim looks to be back in the form she was some years ago after her memorable Lorena Ochoa Invitational victory.

 

I absolutely freakin’ love Christina Kim. One of the fun, cool people in golf and she’s so good for golf it’s not even funny (Well, maybe to her it might be). There’s a lot of great, fun players on all of the tours today and it’s wonderful but Christina was in my opinion one of the first major personalities in golf in the early 2000’s to now.

 

Before Keegan, Billy Ho, Rickie and others, Christina was that big bundle of energy and was very talented and still is. To this day, she’s still one of the most popular players in the world to fans and is quite a follow on Twitter as well.

 

So to have Christina back is just the icing on the cake for the LPGA at this point. The fun thing about Christina is that she can be a microwave on the course. When she’s on, she can be hard to beat and she proved that with her Lorena Ochoa Invitational victory.

 

Her win came after she suffered depression issues so if that isn’t just pure mental skill then I don’t know what is. It wouldn’t shock me if she got another win in 2015.

 

Overall, the LPGA is looking to have another milestone year. And with the slew of rising talents and some more golf being played on great golf course designs, it’s looking nothing but up for Mike Whan and the LPGA Tour.

 

Hit me up on Twitter @ChiGolfRadio! I’m weird and I like tweeting about hitting balls with sticks.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Why Stacy Lewis is by Far The Best Golfer on The Planet on Any Tour

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With the Women’s U.S. Open right around the corner, one name will always stand out in the field. Stacy Lewis, the world no.1 ranked LPGA Tour golfer who shortly lost her no.1 rank when Inbee Park was playing out her mind winning three out of five major championships during the 2013 season, is now on top of the world again and is not only the best golfer on the LPGA Tour, but the best golfer in the world, period, any tour. The only player close to her level on any tour is the aforementioned Inbee Park. Although Inbee is a terrific player, she seems to have trouble on shorter putts. Stacy is a very good putter and is extremely dangerous and unstoppable once she gets on a streak. No other player on any Tour can do that. You don’t see players on the PGA, Champions, or Web.com Tour be as streaky as she is and although they’re great players, what Stacy does is just unreal. If Stacy gets at least four or five birdies in a row, it’s game over.

Not only that, she’s a great ball striker. She’s third on the LPGA in GIR (Greens in Regulation). Heck, she’s good at every freakin’ thing. She’s top five on the LPGA in multiple categories and she’s no.1 in putting, scoring average, and birdies. She’s also 16th in driving distance so she can pound the ball as well. She has 10 career victories and two major titles. She was the one who stopped Inbee’s unbelievable performance last year when she won the Women’s British Open to end Inbee’s chances of being the first golfer ever of any tour to complete the grand slam. Although Inbee currently has more majors than Stacy but Stacy is just playing out her mind and has been the most consistent golfer in the world by far.

Ever since she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship back in 2011, she’s been a monster in golf ranking 1st in several categories every year for the past three years. Inbee had one of the top five greatest seasons in golf history in 2013 but Stacy has just been a consistent machine despite losing her top rank for a while and now she reigns supreme again. Both herself and Inbee have already solidified themselves as future hall of famers but right now, Stacy Lewis is not only the Queen of the LPGA, but the Queen of golf. It’s her sport right now, she owns it and her dominance isn’t going to stop anytime soon, this is just the beginning. She’s the pinnacle of the sport right now and it’s something we have to appreciate while we can instead of wondering who the best player is right now when the answer is obvious. Stacy Lewis is golf.

your-time

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LPGA Commissioner on Paulina Gretzky Cover: “We’re Disappointed and Frustrated”

LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan

LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan

The latest Golf Digest cover stirred some controversy with Dustin Johnson’s fiance Paulina Gretzky rocking the cover posing with a golf club in yoga pants. Gretzky is also the daughter of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and came to fame when she started taking selfies of herself on Twitter although she was apparently already doing some modeling. There were angered LPGA Tour players that showed their disgust about the cover.

Yeah, this cover!

Yeah, this cover!

two time major winner and former world no.1 Stacy Lewis on the cover according to Karen Krause of the New York times: “It’s frustrating for female golfers. It’s kind of the state of where we’ve always been. We don’t get respect for being the golfers that we are. Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines. But at the same time you’d like to see a little respect for the women’s game.”

Hall of fame Juli Inkster on the cover also according to Karen Krause: “It’s frustrating because it’s Golf Digest; it’s not Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue,” Inkster said, adding: “I think they should maybe recognize some of the great women golfers that we have. It’s like, What do you have to do to get a little respect? I’m guaranteeing you right now, it was not a woman editor who chose that cover.”

Even Inbee Park who I have mad respect for and is one of my favorite players now after she absolutely terrorized, destroyed and back-handed the golf world last season after nearly becoming the first golf ever to win all four majors in a year. She ended up with three. She simply said when asked about the cover, “Who’s that”? according to Karen Krause. “That’s just been the way it is for over 20, 30 years.” Inbee said shrugging.

And now, even the LPGA Commisoner stepped up and made a statement about the cover. This, from LPGA.com:

“Obviously we’re disappointed and frustrated by the editorial direction (and timing) Golf Digest has chosen with the announcement of its most recent magazine cover.

If a magazine called Golf Digest is interested in showcasing females in the game, yet consistently steers away from the true superstars who’ve made history over the last few years, something is clearly wrong.

Inbee Park wins 3-straight major championships in 2013. Stacy Lewis, in 2012, becomes the first American to win Rolex Player of the Year since 1994. Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko set historical benchmarks while blossoming as the Tour’s youngest ever champions. And evidently, not one has been “cover worthy” for Golf Digest. “Growing the game” means a need for more role models and in these exciting times for women’s golf, the LPGA is overflowing with them.

At this point, I’m done talking about it and I hope the attention of the media and fans will shift in the proper direction. The true stars representing women’s golf have a grand stage this weekend at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. I’m confident that the year’s first major championship will result in another compelling champion and the traditional Sunday leap into Poppie’s Pond will grab the media spotlight it so deserves.”

Those were the words of LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan.

So, what’s your thoughts on the commish’ statement? Do you agree? Disagree? In my opinion, I could agree with it but at the same time, Kate Upton was on a recent cover of Golf Digest too (She fine yo) although she was with Arnold Palmer. Also, like Inbee said, stuff like this has been going for years so why complain about it now? It can go either way at this point but in general, I definitely think the LPGA needs some more love because it’s a great tour with great players but that’s just a general statement. Leave your thoughts on this controversial story below! This should be fun.

Hit me up on Twitter @ChiGolfRadio! Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the GP Golf Report on the left side of your screen for more great golf stories beyond the course!


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