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Lorena Ochoa criticizes LPGA English rule

Truth & Rumors: Arnie involved in Pebble Beach changes
Al Tielemans/SI

Truth & Rumors: Arnie involved in Pebble Beach changes

Arnold Palmer has been intimately involved with the changes at Pebble Beach in advance of next year's U.S. Open - adding new bunkers, building new tees (to lengthen the course) and pushing fairways closer to the ocean. He's optimistic the tweaks will strengthen Pebble in a "subtle" way. "We've made changes without being obnoxious," Palmer said in a telephone interview this week. "We really aren't trying to change the character of Pebble Beach. ... I'd like to think we're making it more demanding off the tee. We're giving guys a little more to think about when they're whacking those long tee shots." Palmer also offered his take on course conditions at Augusta National, where the past two Masters have turned into grinding, U.S. Open-like affairs. Many golf insiders expect club Chairman Billy Payne to pull back slightly this year, with a friendlier course set-up designed to restore excitement. "Everybody is trying to build really difficult courses and maybe we've gone past the spot we should," Palmer said. "In other words, don't eliminate the birdies and eagles - the possibility of a guy making eagle to win the tournament excites people. ... I think Augusta has gone as far as they want to go, and they'll soften it a little."

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Lorena Ochoa of Mexico says a new LPGA Tour policy requiring players to be effective in English starting in 2009 is a "little drastic."

Ochoa, the No. 1 player in women's golf, says golfers are better judged by their performance.

She was asked at a charity event in her hometown of Guadalajara on Tuesday if she thought the new policy discriminated against international players.

"That is a very strong word. I wouldn't want to use it," said Ochoa, who speaks English. "But I do think it is a little drastic."

There are 121 international players from 26 countries on the LPGA Tour, including 45 players from South Korea.

While some thought the rule might be aimed at the Koreans, Ochoa said, "I think they are making an effort and they are trying to communicate more with the players, I think they are doing enough."

The LPGA will require players to speak English during pro-ams, trophy presentations and media interviews starting in 2009, with players who have been LPGA members for two years facing suspension if they can't pass an oral evaluation of English skills. The rule is effective immediately for new players.

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