THE WOODLANDS, Texas – An important new chapter began in the women’s game at this week’s Chevron Championship, where 51 years of Dinah desert history transferred over to Texas. Those who follow the LPGA closely have long noticed that Tiger Woods announcements coincidentally frequently happen in the middle of important weeks on the LPGA calendar.
This week’s Chevron has to not only overcome Woods’ surgery news, but also now Greg Norman’s comments from Australia that LIV Golf has internal discussions “on a regular basis” about how to get involved in the women’s game.
“I have personally had discussions with individual LPGA Tour players, LET Tour players, Ladies European Tour. They love what our product is showcasing,” claimed Norman during a press conference at Grange Golf Club ahead of LIV Golf Adelaide. “They ask all the time, ‘How can we get involved? We’d love to see a LIV ladies series.’”
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While this isn’t new news, it’s worth noting that talk about LIV Golf hasn’t been as prevalent in LPGA circles as it was last year.
“A lot of players have kind of stopped talking about it in the last four or five months,” said two-time winner Marina Alex, shortly after wrapping up an opening 4-under 68. Alex trails leader Peiyun “Money” Chien, one of the last players to get into the field this week, by one stroke.
The Nicklaus Course at The Club at Carlton Woods played tough on Thursday at 6,706 yards. Only 19 players broke par in the morning wave.
“I think that whoever manages their approach game correctly,” said Alex, “trying to get it into the right sections of the greens, trying to avoid the miss error that will likely cost you a bogey. That’s championship golf in a nutshell, really plotting your way around and trying to make as few unforced errors as possible.”
World No. 1 Lydia Ko opened with a 71 and was pleasantly surprised by how the day unfolded.
“To be honest, I struggled the first few times I played around this course,” she said, “and I was like, I don’t know how I’m going to do this.”
Lydia Ko in slow-mo pic.twitter.com/PdBuUcFiyq
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Georgia Hall, one of the hottest players in the game right now, birdied her last two holes to shoot 70. The former AIG Women’s British Open champion relishes a longer layout, which the afternoon downpours will surely guarantee for Friday’s round.
Play was suspended on Thursday at 4:38 p.m. ET due to thunderstorms.
Hall hasn’t finished outside the top 15 in five starts this season, including two runner-up showings. She began the year on the LET in Saudi Arabia with English compatriot Colin Cann, who is in his 29th year caddying on the LPGA.
Hall said she hasn’t been approached by anyone from LIV about a women’s tour.
“No, I haven’t heard that there is discussions going on,” she said, “especially recently. A little bit last year, but not anything recent.”
The potential impact of a rival tour on the LPGA has concerned many.
Seven-time major winner Karrie Webb told Golfweek last summer that she’d hold a grudge against players who would choose to leave the LPGA for LIV.
“If the LPGA were to suffer because a group of players went and started playing on a tour similar to (LIV) and the LPGA would suffer, I would hold that against them,” Webb said. “I know that (Greg Norman has) had this vendetta against the PGA Tour as long as I’ve known him, So I don’t think there would be any changing him. I would just ask him that in his ambition to succeed, that he doesn’t ruin women’s golf in the process.”
Two-time Chevron winner Brittany Lincicome, who opened with a 70, echoed the thoughts of peers on the subject of Saudi buzz within the tour.
“I feel like I haven’t heard anything about it in a long time,” she said. “Not really sure why, I just thought they were focused on lawsuit stuff … I feel like it’s only a matter of time before they come our way.”