Who was the best player of 2010? Larry Bohannon, a golf writer I’ve enjoyed reading for years, says that it’s none of the usual suspects.
There was another player out there who received virtually no talk about being the world player of the year. Perhaps it’s because this player toils not on the world’s various men’s tours, but on the LPGA. But there can be a pretty good argument made for Yani Tseng as the world player of the year.
Let’s start with winning. Tseng won three times on the LPGA Tour this year. That’s not as many wins as the five Ai Miyazato compiled this year, but there was a big difference. Tseng managed to win two majors.
She won the first major of the year at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, then later in the summer she won the Ricoh Women’s British Open title.
Both of Tseng’s major wins followed a similar pattern. She built up big leads in the final round, then held off charges by other players. At the Kraft Nabisco at Mission Hills Country Club, Tseng had to survive a eagle chip attempt on the final hole by Suzann Pettersen. At the British Open, Tseng held off Katherine Hull for the victory.
Chauvinists among us might argue that the ladies don’t represent the best players out there, and so no female player can be the player of the year. But in Tseng’s defense, she is playing against the best her gender has to offer. The LPGA is not a minor league tour.
The question brings up a larger issue about women’s sports in general. Do women’s sports represent an inferior brand to the men’s, or do they occupy a separate but equal sphere? I tend toward the separate but equal argument. I have no problem recognizing that what the ladies of the LPGA or WNBA do are examples of incredible athleticism. But I also know that I’m not going to see 300 yard drives or high flying slam dunks. They’re really different games.
Where the LPGA suffers for me is in the courses and coverage. If they were to get off the minor-league tracks and find a television partner that knows something about production values I think the ladies would have more people willing to watch.