Pet Peeves About Golf Channel’s Day 1 International Crown Coverage

In no particular order:

There’s No “Q” in Sakura!  And No “Mini”!!  Sa-koo-ra Yo-ko-mee-nay.  Say it fast with equal emphasis on each syllable and you’ll be fine.  Never mind that the romanized “r” in Japanese is somewhere between an English “r” and “l”–too tough to learn for just one week.  Although if you can learn how to lisp “Atha” and “Motho,” why not go the extra mile for one of the JLPGA’s best players ever?  [Update (7/26/14, 9:33 am):  Also, Sakura’s no “meanie” (although Kirk and Wright might beg to differ after that shot on 17 Friday!).  Yo-ko-mee-nay, people!]

Speaking of Sakura…  She’s got a John Daly-esque swing.  And I think we saw it once on the 18th hole.  C’mon, people!

First-Tee Footage?!  Everyone talked about how emotional (in so many ways) the 1st drive of the 1st tee was this week.  Yet did Golf Channel shoot it, save it, and replay it for us?  Noooo!!!!!  I know playing every national anthem would have taken too long.  But how about a quick montage with the last 2 seconds of each country’s anthem and reaction shots by the players during it and right after they knew where their 1st shots went?  Or feature the best reactions at the top of Day 2’s coverage?

Show More Tee Shots!  When something even remotely dramatic happens on the tee–shot in the woods, player hits fairway after partner puts it in woods, one bomber outdrives another, whatever–we oughtta see it.  Everything matters in match play and with so few groups on the course, we should be able to get a good sense of how every match is unfolding and not have to rely so much on Juli Inkster’s summaries of what happened.

Know Your Matches.  I can’t believe that Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall–the Vikings of the Solheim Cup–struggled so much in the 1st 12 holes yesterday against struggling young Okinawans Mika Miyazato and Mamiko Higa.  So much for Solheim Cup experience and heroics, eh?  You know what else I can’t believe?  That we barely saw a shot of the latter’s great play and not even much of the former’s great comeback.  This was a made-for-tv David vs. Goliath deal, but we saw very little of it.  (True, most of the fireworks from Team Japan occurred in the 1st 5 holes.  But this is what they make highlights for.)

Speaking of Balance…  Man, the cameras loved Teams USA and Spain, and I wholeheartedly endorse that decision.  But if 2 seconds per shot of golfers walking, standing, and consulting with each other and their caddies on non-pivotal shots were cut, just think of how much more could have been shown of the Vikings vs. the Okinawans, Karrie Webb and Minjee Lee taking it to Na Yeon Choi and In-Kyung Kim (with attendant speculation on how the pressure is affecting the half of Team ROK that isn’t coming into this week with a whole lot of confidence), and Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu lighting up the course?

And Now a Word from Our Sponsors.  Given how many commercials that GC gets to show at the end of each day, wouldn’t it be nice if they cut back a little midway through the coverage?

[Update 1 (8:00 am):  Ruthless Mike wants more credit given where it’s due to Team Taiwan.  HappyFan gives Judy Rankin credit for mentioning the Japan-Korea almost-annual team matches during an interview, but rightly criticizes the bulk of the coverage for pretending as if the Asian and other non-Solheim Cuppers have no professional team experience.  I wish I had thought of both (or, more accurately, remembered the latter).  I mean, nobody remembers the Lexus Cup?]

Recommended Reading: Solheim Cup Day 1 Round-Up

Golfweek breaks down Day 1 at the Solheim Cup for us, shot by shot.  Julie Williams condenses Day 1 into 5 Things.  Beth Ann Baldry calls Kerr-Wie a match made in heaven.

Golf Channel summarizes each match.  Randall Mell tells the story of the morning and the day, while Jay Coffin expands on the tale of Jessica Korda’s 1st-hole nerves. GC has a host of short articles and video highlights to browse, as well.

Steve DiMeglio ably sums things up for USA Today, while Brent Kelley does the same for about.com and Stephanie Wei weighs in on the morning and afternoon matches.

[Update 1 (5:33 am):  Here’s a lucid overview from Ruthless Mike!]

[Update 2 (5:40 am):  Another good summary from Bill Rand.]

Recommended Reading: Solheim Madness II

Here’s the sequel to my last Solheim Cup link-o-rama.  Be sure to check out Geoff Shackelford on Colorado Golf Club, Stina Sternberg on why Solheim flair has to go, and bangkokbobby with lots of video and photos.  And of course follow James Corrigan at The Telegraph and Steve DiMeglio at USA Today!

[Update 1 (8/16/13, 8:28 am):  Here’s Ruthless Mike on the morning matches!]

Recommended Reading: Getting Psyched for the Solheim Cup

Brent Kelley and Tony Jesselli have already begun Solheim Cup blogging.  Be sure to check out their preview posts and Brent’s wonderful Solheim Cup overview.

And don’t miss coverage by espnW (Mechelle Voepel), Golfweek (Beth Ann Baldry), Golf Digest (Ron Sirak), USA Today (Steve DiMeglio), and Golf Channel (coverage starts Friday morning!).

Recommended Reading: Getting Psyched for the Solheim Cup

Brent Kelley and Tony Jesselli have already begun Solheim Cup blogging.  Be sure to check out their preview posts and Brent’s wonderful Solheim Cup overview.

And don’t miss coverage by espnW (Mechelle Voepel), Golfweek (Beth Ann Baldry), Golf Digest (Ron Sirak), USA Today (Steve DiMeglio), and Golf Channel (coverage starts Friday morning!).

Blazing Saddles and Transatlantic Postmodernism

[Note to my regular readers who come here for women’s golf coverage:  I’m airing Mel Brooks’s 1974 film Blazing Saddles tonight as part of SUNY Fredonia’s American Studies film series “Myths of the American West,” so decided to share a draft of my opening comments here at Mostly Harmless (which is, after all, “for fun”).  I’m aware of the 5-car collision that has lead to my favorite golfer Ai Miyazato withdrawing from this week’s LPGA event (and onechan’s favorite Paula Creamer being a likely WD candidate) and obviously wish them and everyone else involved in it a full and speedy recovery.]

[Note to my non-regular readers who are coming here after watching Blazing Saddles (or missing it):  Hope you enjoy this post and are curious enough after reading it to browse around for other posts here that you may find interesting!]

I was four years old when Blazing Saddles was first released in American theaters and until Shannon McRae–the director of American Studies at SUNY Fredonia and organizer of the program’s film series “Myths of the American West”–took seriously my half-joking suggestion to include it in the series and invited me to introduce it, I had never seen it in its entirety until this month.  In a semester when I’m teaching American Identities, Introduction to African American Literature and Culture, and Critical Reading, I’m particularly pleased to take Shannon up on her kind offer, and offer a few comments as a new viewer of a movie that’s been well-known (even to me) for decades, comments that will hopefully be as useful to students in my classes this semester as everyone else who braved the rains to make it out here tonight.

Growing up, I put Blazing Saddles in the mental category of comedies too raw for me to watch, a remarkably capacious category that in the ’70s and too far into the ’80s included everything from Monty Python to Mad magazine to Saturday Night Live to just about every famous stand-up comedian of the time.  If this reference helps people place where I was at, probably Benny Hill was the rawest thing I got access to before graduate school.  Yes, I grew up in a small town in central NY and failed to take advantage of 2nd grade in Palo Alto and 7th grade in Chapel Hill.  Nevertheless, I was obsessed with everything comical and comics-al.  In high school I started a cartoon series called The Gray Area that, despite its being far too derivative of The Far Side, was seen, nay loved, by regular readers of the Pennysaver and other fine local publications for far too many weeks.  Me, I loved everything from Gilligan’s Island to Scooby Doo, from Diff’rent Strokes to The Facts of Life, from Benson to Newhart, from Doctor Who to The Greatest American Hero, from Airplane! to Ghostbusters, from The Muppet Show to The Tracey Ullman Show, from Tom and Jerry to Rocky and Bullwinkle (in reruns, duh) to Calvin and Hobbes to Mork and Mindy, from any DC comic Ambush Bug appeared in (even though I was almost exclusively a Marvel fan) to the animated version of The Tick.  Sure, I hated the Smurfs and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but otherwise I was pretty easy to please.  And I was a fan of The Simpsons before The Simpsons was The Simpsons, man!  (It goes without saying from the title of this blog what my favorite was, though!)

All of which is to say that when I go to grad school in the early 1990s I was perfectly primed to understand and appreciate what many still misunderstand and denigrate even today as a French theoretical import:  postmodernism.  As someone who saw The Simpsons parody of the end of The Graduate long before I ever saw The Graduate, who loved it when Beavis and Butt-head were watching a Johnny Cash video and decided it was gangsta rap, and who came of age in a hip hop culture rife with allusion and remixing and pastiche, I didn’t have to think twice about Jean-Francois Lyotard’s notion of “incredulity toward metanarratives” as a core characteristic of postmodernism.

So it’s all too easy and obvious now for me to look back at Blazing Saddles and see it as yet another exemplar of American postmodernism.  It’s certainly not an original point to make, as a quick google search will show you (I recommend posts by Mark Bourne and Mike Sutton on this aspect of the movie).  But what is originality, anyway?  Just another stinkin’ metanarrative–right, JFL?  Perhaps it’s slightly more original to claim that Mel Brooks and Monty Python were engaged in a transatlantic comedic one-ups-man-ship that was perfectly postmodern.  In the same way that Brooks and his co-writers, including Richard Pryor, were playing with myths of the American west and poking fun at founding narratives of the modern United States, Monty Python was taking on English legends of the Holy Grail and western icons of Christianity–and at roughly the same time.  Check me on this.  And, as you watch Blazing Saddles tonight, consider some of the debates over postmodernism that occupied so many western intellectuals in the last third of the 20th century:  is postmodernism all sound and fury, signifying nothing?  is it, in the final analysis, the laugh track of late capitalism? are its politics of race and gender and sexuality and [fill in the blank] reactionary, liberatory, laughable, nostalgic, or what? is postmodernism a thing of the past, and if so, how do we react to it today (and what comes after that post-?) if not, if we are still living in and with postmodernism, what does Blazing Saddles compare to in contemporary and recent culture?

There’s so much more to be said–about what light Blazing Saddles may shed on black-Jewish relations in the late civil rights era, for instance–but I think it ought to wait until after the movie.  Don’t you?

What Happens in Thailand Stays in Thailand?

If the most dominant golfer in the world, bar none, barely pulls out a victory in Thailand over 2 former world #1s, but nobody makes a big deal of it, has it really happened?  Well, of course.  But what does it say about the U.S. golfy media that Ya Ni Tseng’s dramatic win over Ai Miyazato and Ji-Yai Shin barely flickered across its collective consciousness?

Seriously, with the exception of 5 things from Julie Williams at Golfweek, 30 seconds from the SI guys (plus Stephanie Wei), and a straight-from-LPGA.com background 3-paragrapher from Randall Mell at Golf Channel, every other major golf web site simply relied on the AP.  The only site (besides this one) to put Tseng’s win in some kind of context is Golf Observer, but because they’re now subscription-based, once their story goes off their main page it’s not easily accessible.  So let me quote the key part here:

With the win is all of the talk that Tseng could be the all-time best player in LPGA history. We saw this happen to Tiger Woods a decade ago when he won the Masters and then went wild winning eight events in 1999 and nine times in 2000. For Tseng she has won 13 times and is 75 wins away from Kathy Whitworth, 69 wins away from Mickey Wright and 59 wins away from Annika Sorenstam. But at 23 years, 27 days old she is light years ahead of these three. For Whitworth she was 23 years, 17 days old when she won the 1962 Phoenix Thunderbird Open, her second career victory. For Mickey Wright she was 23 years, 128 days old when she won the 1958 LPGA Championship, her sixth LPGA Tour victory. For Annika Sorenstam, she was 24 years, 281 days old when she won for the first time at the 1995 U.S. Women’s Open. So you can she that Yani is light years ahead of the top-three but still has a lot to prove. To show you how really insane her game has been, she now has 33 wins around the world.

Tseng also is just six points away from qualifying for the World Golf Hall of Fame, she now is at 21 of the 28 points needed to get into the Hall. So there is a good chance that she could qualify this year, only problem because of the antedated rules of the LPGA she couldn’t enter the hall until 2017. With the win she increases her LPGA career earnings to $7,776,083 – passing Betsy King to move into 14th on the LPGA Career Money List and is just $14 and a half million to catching Sorenstam’s $22 and a half million dollar total. Now to show that Tseng is winning at a record pace, this was her 4th win in last 9 starts dating back to Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in September 2011. For Tseng’s career she has 103 starts so that means she has a 12.6% of her starts or one every 12 and a half starts. This isn’t even close to Tiger Woods who we all thought was the best, in 275 starts Tiger has won 71 times for a 26.1% or winning once in every 26 starts.

Yeah, the prose isn’t deathless (seeing all the run-ons and wrong or left-out words, I assume it’s by Sal Johnson), but the points made through it are valid. 

What’s even more impressive is that Tseng beat a pair of golfers who are just about as accomplished as she is, and by some measures, more so.  Ai Miyazato has 7 LPGA wins to go with 15 wins on other major tours, mostly on the JLPGA (because 2 of them came at the LPGA-LET co-sponsored Evian Masters, I believe she has 20 big-time worldwide wins).  Ji-Yai Shin has 8 LPGA wins, including a major, to go with 28 wins on other major tours, mostly on the KLPGA (when you don’t double-count co-sponsored wins, I believe she has 24 big-time worldwide wins).  By my count, Tseng has 13 LPGA wins, including 5 majors, but only 8 wins on other major tours, mostly on the LET, and hence only 18 big-time worldwide wins when you don’t double-count her 3 co-sponsored victories.  (I’m assuming that oft-cited 33 total adds in wins from such developmental tours as the ALPG, LAGT, CN Canadian Women’s Tour, and so on–and probably major amateur events, for that matter.)

I’m sure the showdown at Riviera between Phil and young guns Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley, and Bill Haas, coupled with Sergio’s amazing run at the top of the leaderboard, made for some gripping golf.  But remind me again how many career wins Haas, Bradley, and Johnson have…?  Or the highest they’ve ever been ranked…?  Or how they’ve proved themselves by dominating on another major tour…?

Look, I’m not saying Tseng is better than them, I recognize that live golf is a lot more compelling than tape-delayed coverage from half a world away, I understand that Phil is a much-more-established American star, and I’ll even acknowledge that the men’s game can be more fun to watch on tv than the LPGA.  Heck, I even found myself watching the Knicks on Sunday afternoon for awhile to see what all the fuss about Jeremy Lin was about (this from someone who never enjoyed watching the NBA and lost touch with the NCAA not long after graduating from college a couple of decades ago).  The only point I’m trying to make is that golf journalists have a job to inform and educate their audience, and part of that job involves assessing the historical significance of a tournament.  With all due respect to the guys involved last week, nothing they’ve done merits such an overwhelming lack of attention on the Tseng-Miyazato-Shin throwdown.  Maybe something like a Tiger-Donald-[Phil/Rory/Westwood/take your pick] shootout would be comparable….

Well, what’s done is done.  I just hope the Showdown in Singapore gets a little more attention from the U.S. golfy media….

[Update 1 (2/24/12, 2:54 pm):  Should have realized that Brent Kelley would put Tseng’s win in perspective, too!]