Golf gingerly returns to courses but the best competition comes from South Korea women at $2.5 million LPGA event

The pride of place in the golfing world this week belongs to the women golfers from South Korea. They have been the first to get off the blocks with a $ 2.5 million dollar Korean LPGA Championships. It is live golf, live on TV and some of the best players in the world are in action.

V Krishnaswamy May 15, 2020 15:29:21 IST
Golf gingerly returns to courses but the best competition comes from South Korea women at $2.5 million LPGA event

Welcome back to the world of golf. Albeit slightly altered in the times of COVID-19 . But what the heck… the skills are the same. Great shots, great saves and amazing putts. All live on a real golf course. No virtual stuff, no Trackman, no makeshift ranges and putting surfaces. All real.

The pride of place in the golfing world this week belongs to the women golfers from South Korea. They have been the first to get off the blocks with a $ 2.5 million dollar Korean LPGA Championships. It is live golf, live on TV and some of the best players in the world are in action.

This and the next week are vital for golf. Courses have opened up in Thailand and Malaysia and in some places in Australia, too. Courses were thrown open in England. Wales will follow suit next week, but Scottish golfers face hefty fines, if they cross over for golf.

Golf gingerly returns to courses but the best competition comes from South Korea women at 25 million LPGA event

The pride of place in the golfing world this week belongs to the women golfers from South Korea. They have been the first to get off the blocks with a $ 2.5 million dollar Korean LPGA Championships. Image courtesy: KLPGA

A friend of mine in England likened his first round in more than eight weeks to an ‘early Christmas’ and the one on the other side of the border in the Home of Golf, Scotland, was chewing his nails in anticipation.

Here at home in India, the Bengalureans are all set – dusting their clubs, sanitising gloves and golf balls and revving up their cars to get to hopefully get to the course next week. Haryana, too, might open up, giving relief to vast number of staffers, who depend on activity at golf clubs for their livelihood.

Elsewhere competition has begun. The lower rung and local Cactus (for women) and Outlaw Tour (for men) have had competitions in Arizona. Both Tours have attracted pros, wanting to ‘stay in touch’ with their games.

A bunch of PGA Tour pros turned up at Scottsdale Open, but a fresh face, Zach Smith, won the $ 20,000 winner’s cheque from the $ 130,000 pool, collected via entry fees from the 160-odd field.

Our own Indian youngster, Anika Varma, studying and playing golf in the US, played some events with distinction and a bunch of Top-10s on Cactus Tour.

This Saturday’s TaylorMade Driving Relief at the exclsuive Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida features Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff. The $3 million purse goes to Covid charities. The Nurses Foundation (Rory and DJ) and the CDC Foundation (Fowler- Wolff) will benefit.

Each team starts with $500,000 in the bank. Each hole is worth a Skin and for a tied hole, the Skin and money carries over to the next hole.

The first six holes are worth $ 50,000 each; the 7th to 16th are at $100,00 each and the 17this worth $ 200,000. The 18this worth $500,000. Also, Farmers Insurance rewards birdies with $25,000; eagles with $50,000 and a hole-in-one or an albatross with $150,000.

No fans, but the viewing will be unique. The event will be broadcast live with commentators and liked-up players on NBC, Sunday, May 17, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. EDT (IST 11.30 pm on Sunday night to 3.30 am Monday morning). It will be on Golf Channel, NBC Sports Network and Sky Sports besides a free broadcast on PGA Tour Live, GOLFTV, GolfChannel.com and Golfpass.

Across the pond in Europe, pros continue to ‘compete’ against each other ‘virtually’ in what is called the ‘BMWTrackMan Invitational’.

Eighteen European Tour pros, including likes of Lee Westwood and Joost Luiten are in the midst of a five-event series played on iconic courses, mapped onto the TrackMan.

Luiten won the first event on Old Course, St. Andrews last Saturday(9 May) and the next event on 16 May will be at Royal Portrush, venue of the 2019 Open. The three venues after that are GolfClub Munchen, Real Club Valderrama and Wentworth. The prize of Euros 10,000 goes to the charity decided by the victor.

But the top ‘prize’ for the best viewing and ‘real’ competition in pro golf goes to the South Korean women at the Korean LPGA Championships. Three of the World’s Top-10 women are in the field of 150 professionals at Lakewood Country in Yangju, north-east of Seoul. The winner of the $ 2.5m event (the highest in 2020) gets $180,000 and the 150th, too, gets about $ 5,100.

Golf gingerly returns to courses but the best competition comes from South Korea women at 25 million LPGA event

The top ‘prize’ for the best viewing and ‘real’ competition in pro golf goes to the South Korean women at the Korean LPGA Championships. Three of the World’s Top-10 women are in the field of 150 professionals at Lakewood Country in Yangju, north-east of Seoul. Image courtesy: KLPGA

There are no spectators on course, but is being telecast live. Channels around the world are clamouring to show it and it translates into money for the Channel SBS, who hold the rights.

The players go through safety measures, sanitisation processes including Ultra violet sanitisers and cannot be within two metres of anyone else. Surfaces are cleaned numerous times through the day.

Caddies must wear masks, though the players can play without them. Dinning and eating is all by themselves. No handshakes, no after-round hugs. In short, the Koreans have spared no effort to make it ultra-safe.

A bit tedious it might seem. But so what? As long as you can play golf; see golf and make a living across the spectrum in the golf industry.

Hoping to get more of this as we begin our trudge into real life once again, of course armed with adaptations forced on us by the COVID-19 .

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