Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Observations Round 1

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After a summer of drought-like conditions, the heavens opened up on the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Thursday morning. There was no lightning, however, and play continued apace. I am certain that the players did not appreciate it at the moment, but the course (and the area) needed the rain badly. I had noted earlier in the week that although the fairways and greens were in good shape, the secondary rough and intermediate spaces were brown, dry and hard.

The impact of the rain on play, however, was felt in what likely were lower than expected scores. In her post round presser, Mika Miyazato said that she “played more aggressively today because the greens are very soft.” As of this writing Pernilla Lindberg leads at -7, Mika Miyazato and Duncan Meredith are at -5; and at the host at -4 includes Jenny Shin, Amy Yang, Gerina PIller, So Yeon Ruy, Ayaka Kaneko, and Choi Chella.

Local favorite and World #1 Stacey Lewis is struggling after 9 at +1.

It would be a big win for Lindberg if she should somehow manage to hold on. She has yet to win on tour and thus far this year has won just $48,000.

I think that playing on the LPGA for most of the players has got to be harder than we think. Playing golf may actually be the easiest part of the job. Staying out on tour financially has got to be a killer.

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Mika Miyazato

A glance at the flags on the leaderboard shows what I think for the LPGA is both a blessing and a curse. Right now, the leader is a Swede. Through the ties for ten are eleven Americans, six Koreans, two players from Japan, plus players from Sweden, Scotland, England, France, and the Netherlands. The LPGA is an international Tour and that worldwide base has to help. On the other hand, I think it sometimes makes the LPGA a hard sell to the broader American audience. The best players on a month-in-and-month-out basis are not Americans, but Koreans.

Much has been made in the media of the Asian players’ struggles with English. My observation is that it is only partially true. Most of the players I’ve seen are at least partially conversant in English. They do, however, rely on translators to get them through. I don’t blame them. When put on the spot by reporters, they want to make sure that they don’t make a mistake—either in understanding the question, or in providing an answer.

Earlier this week, during her press conference, Ai Miyazato often started to answer questions before her translator stepped in. It was clear to me that she knew far more English than the presence of a translator would suggest. This afternoon’s interview with Mika Miyazato, on the other hand, showed the dangers of NOT having a translator. She was asked a question about the 2014 Olympics, thought that it was about the 14th hole, became confused, and then had to wait for a microphone technician to help her out with a translation.

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The Corporate Tents at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic

The apparent difficulty of selling the LPGA shows in the corporate presence at the Jamie Farr. While PGA Tour sponsors have huge tents, the ones at the LPGA are mostly under 10×10 sunshades. Every men’s tournament I’ve attended has an enormous pavilion with thousands of square feet of of logo clothing and memorabilia. The Jamie Farr Toledo Classic has a 10×10 booth.

I don’t really understand the disparity in interest between the two tours. The LPGA puts on a terrific show, with top quality golf and friendly, attractive stars. I’ve felt far more welcome at LPGA events (both as spectator and media member) than at the men’s events. Most of the men put their heads down and march from tee to green, from green to tee. LPGA players are much more likely to make eye contact, wave and smile.

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Jamie Farr studies the leaderboard and practices saying player names

The heart and soul of this tournament is Jamie Farr. The former MASH star and Toledo native is everywhere at the Tournament, greeting players, chatting it up in the Media room and showing his face inside the ropes.  I suspect that he also plays a large behind-the-scenes role in getting local sponsors on board. In any event, his celebrity makes the event possible—and has made it possible for 27 years. 

Years ago, there were perhaps a dozen or more “celebrity golf tournaments” such as The Crosby and the Hope. Danny Thomas, Frank Sinatro, Andy Williams, Glenn Campbell, Jackie Gleason, Sammie Davis, Jr., Joe Garagiola, The Gatlin Brothers, Dean Martin and Ed McMahon are others who have lent their names to golf tournaments.

Now we’re down to two; The Justin Timberlake Shriners’ and the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic.

I’m not sure about the larger meaning of that.

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