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January is a very long time ago – and, in sporting terms, the starkness of our changed world is being felt acutely in women’s expert golf.
Over the first half of 2020, genuine optimism and enjoyment have actually gone, changed by desperation and misery, with possible prosperity and practicality cleaned out by coronavirus.
Yet this year was supposed to be one of hope. It started with golf coming together to rescue the Ladies European Tour – offering, at last, a correct path for the continent’s finest female players.
A joint news conference held near London on 24 January detailed a brand-new relationship. It brought together the LET and LPGA with assistance from the men’s European Trip and R&A.
5 months on, the LET’s planned schedule, with 24 competitions and record prize cash, lies in tatters. As the guys’s sector prepares to come out of lockdown, the ladies’s video game stays paralysed.
The European Tour has revealed its return with six British tournaments beginning in July. There is relief that the men will contend for around ₤900,000 weekly, but there was nothing for female equivalents to commemorate.
To demonstrate the point, an email from the dad of an LET hopeful landed in my inbox. He wrote: “It appears such a missed out on opportunity to not connect to the LET and co-host or at least help with getting a handful of ladies’s events organised at UK venues.”
He included: “I was just hoping that this event we are all living through may conjure up things in a different way. However alas, no.”
Solheim Cup gamer Mel Reid expanded on the theme while appearing on BBC Radio 5 Live’s The Guest List. The Florida-based Englishwoman stated: “It’s a terrific chance, specifically in golf – where we can have some mixed events and actually bring the video game to be more contemporary.
” I do believe golf has actually been left a bit compared to the development of other sports.
” Now is a perfect time to reset. Why not throw in some new and enjoyable events that have never ever been done prior to?”
The inaugural Scandinavian Mixed occasion, hosted by major-winning Swedes Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam, was expected to be held this month. European Tour men and ladies would have contended on the exact same course for the very same prize.
Trip manager Keith Pelley was keen to harness the growing appeal of women’s sport. “The women professionals bring a different dynamic and fanbase to the video game,” he has stated.
” All of which enhances our sport – and we eagerly anticipate building a strong women’s expert presence.”
But this is a moment when sporting entities are scrambling to protect their own existence. Any cravings to innovate has been changed by conservatism, pragmatism and self-preservation.
This Tuesday, 2 June, is the 5th annual Females’s Golf Day – and this year, it is being celebrated practically. But there is little to cheer at present for young female experts who might, in various situations, have been looking at 2020 as the launchpad for their professions.
Undoubtedly, there is no play on the LET up until August’s Evian Masters, a significant offering just limited places for the tour’s more senior gamers. So much for an intense, new future.
In the meantime, former British Open champ Georgia Hall, in addition to Charley Hull, has gone into an unofficial tournament at Brockenhurst Manor in Hampshire on 18 June. It is being organised by prominent LET gamer Liz Young.
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Each rival should pay ₤125 to produce a prize fund for what will be the first females’s professional occasion given that the easing of lockdown restrictions. Young is eager for more players to get in and to attract sponsors.
In the United States, the LPGA is attempting to return on its feet. Its manager Mike Whan admits his tour has been “consuming up most of our cost savings” during lockdown. His circuit should be back in mid-July with a 21- competition schedule worth ₤45 m.
However as Reid mentioned on 5 Live: “It is hard to see your good friends who have actually been on tour for such a very long time and had a number of not-so-great seasons having to reevaluate whether they can support themselves.”
Reid, who has played in three Solheim Cups and was a vice-captain when Europe beat the United States at Gleneagles last year, now worries for the collaboration between the LPGA, where she is now based, and her home tour.
” That’s exactly what the LET required and with the assistance of the males’s European Trip too,” she said. “Naturally a world crisis has actually taken place, and there’s way worse things going on, however I’m really anxious for it.”
Whan has given guarantees the LPGA will not desert the LET and Reid sympathises with his position. “He’s probably having many sleep deprived nights today,” she stated.
” It’s not like the guys’s game, where they’re going to play in a number of weeks on the PGA Trip and they have the financial resources to make it extremely safe for gamers and caddies.
” We simply don’t have that sort of financial support. We can’t pay for to have everyone in the very same hotel, to charter flights from one competition to the next and so it’s going to be more of an uphill struggle for us to start once again.”
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