The Norman Transcript

Sports

April 30, 2014

Women’s golf riding momentum of its brightest stars

(Continued)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

And then it got even better.

Lydia Ko, a two-time winner on the LPGA before she even turned pro, had quite the week in San Francisco. She was on Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people (no, Paulina Gretzky was not among them). She celebrated her 17th birthday. And she capped it with a 6-foot birdie putt on the final hole at Lake Merced to hold off Women’s British Open champion Stacy Lewis.

“Stars drive sports,” Whan said Monday afternoon. “When LeBron is in the championship game, when Michelle and Lexi are battling for a major, when Tiger plays, it makes a difference. Everybody thinks they know who those stars are. Three years ago if you would have asked me, I wouldn’t have said Lydia, Lexi and Stacy. They have built themselves into stars. People always say, ‘Can you market her?’ I don’t get to choose to do the marketing. They’re the ones who do that.”

Whan also spoke about stars at the end of last season, when three players were vying for top awards in the final tournament and the commissioner had just announced a 2014 schedule that restored some vitality to women’s golf.

“I think sports are at their absolute best — and it doesn’t happen that often — when the best athletes in that sport are having the best years of their lives,” Whan said that day in Naples, Fla.

Maybe there’s more of the best than even Whan realized.

The rest of the year hasn’t been too shabby. Karrie Webb, another Hall of Fame member and the only woman to capture five of the LPGA’s majors, has won twice. So has former major champion Anna Nordqvist. Of all the LPGA winners this year, Jessica Korda has the lowest world ranking. She’s at No. 25.

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