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LPGA Players Sound Off on Range Controversy

 

A weather delay at the PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic over the weekend drew the ire of numerous LPGA Tour players who took to social media to voice their displeasure.

Why were the ladies upset?

The PGA Tour’s event was being contested on the West Course at TPC Kuala Lumpur and the East Course — where the women will tee it up next week in the SIME Darby LPGA Malaysia — was being used as the driving range. That fact wasn’t the instigator, however. It’s not uncommon for courses who host major tournaments to use a hole or two from an adjoining or nearby course as the driving range. Instead, a tweet from No Laying Up co-founder Chris Solomon lit the fuse. 

With every player on the course when the inclement weather rolled through for nearly four hours on Friday, the resumption of play was prempted by a warm-up session for the players. All 78 players needed a place to warm-up, yet the makeshift driving range on the third hole on the East Course coulnd’t accomodate every player. 

As a result, a few players had to make due with warming up in places other than the elongated tee box-turned-range, which prompted a few LPGAers to take issue.

 

Solomon cleared the air in a subsequent update, which pointed out the additional “damage” done to the East Course in the short warm-up period was minimal. 

On Friday, with every single player in the field on the course, the horn blew and play stopped for several hours. When it was time to resume, all 78 players had a short window of time to warm up. With only about 26 spots on that 3rd tee, practice areas were extended to the very end of the 4th fairway. About ten guys hit from here, which is again an area that is highly unlikely to be played from during the event. Finally the last few scraps of guys went down in front of the 2nd green and hit some balls down that fairway. A small amount of turf was dug up in the approximately 10 minutes that guys were hitting.

The funniest part to me was Jonathan Vegas going into he bunker to hit, and Sung Kang hitting woods from that fringe directly over his head. It was mayhem! I tweeted those pictures out just to point the hilarity in it all, and even the players passing by commented lightheartedly about how crazy it was. It’s all part of the experience of playing a golf tournament on the other side of the world.

The most important thing to note is, almost assuredly, the women will be playing ball in hand when they’re here in two weeks. The fairways out here are incredibly soft, and balls have been plugging in them all week. The guys have played it up from the moment they arrived. So even if an LPGA player’s ball was to end up in one of these divots from the TOUR guys, they get to pick it up, clean it, and move it to a perfectly groomed place in the fairway. In addition, the grounds crew here has a week in between to repair any “damage” made to any of the surfaces.

While I recognize the frustrations that must come with feeling like you’re always playing second fiddle to the men’s TOUR, I strongly believe this whole thing is a lot to do about nothing. Billy Kratzert’s explanation on Golf Channel was perfect. If the LPGA players show up in two weeks and are disappointed with the condition of the course, I’ll be stunned. Both courses look absolutely immaculate, and this situation was simply unavoidable.

[GolfChannel.com, NoLayingUp.com]

 

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