Van Cynical Mailbag: Inbee Park sets sights on Grand Slam at St. Andrews
The women of the LPGA have played three official major championships so far this year, and Inbee Park has won all three. She goes for number four this week at the Women's British Open at St. Andrews, so by any reasonable standard she should be going for the Grand Slam. The only problem is the LPGA has awarded major status to one of its regular stops, the Evian in France. That may or may not be a smart marketing move, but claiming to have five majors is just as bogus in women's golf as it is in senior golf.
In fact let's stop the debate right now. Four majors in a row in one calendar year is a Grand Slam. End of story.
When Tiger Woods won four majors in a row, spread over two years, it was not a Grand Slam but a Tiger Slam or, in some corners, the Big Lebowski. It was a remarkable feat, something that had never been done before. When Bobby Jones won his Grand Slam in 1930, two of the tournaments were amateur match-play events.
So let's not downplay what Park has a chance to do. She's come out of nowhere, seemingly, as the LPGA's dominant players have collapsed like a house of cards. Annika Sorenstam suddenly retired, Lorena Ochoa took over and then also retired, then Yani Tseng had a tremendous run and is now struggling with her game. Park, a Korean phenom, has come into her own. She didn't just win three majors, she made it look easy -- so easy that it doesn't appear she has any real challengers out there.
Who's the second-best player in women's golf these days? Uhhh…
The narrative of golf has historically been more interesting when there's a dominant player on the scene, whether it's men's or women's golf. Park is the new best thing to happen to the LPGA, and winning the Grand Slam can only help. The debate about the Evian, silly as it is, at least gets the public and the media talking about the LPGA for the first time in years -- a fact directly attributable to the relatively unimpressive play of America's best women golfers. We don't need to make up a new name for this. It's a legit Grand Slam if Park wins this week. If she goes on to snag the Evian, too, we don't have to invent a SorenSlam- or Tiger Slam-like tag for it such as Park-alooza, the QuInbee or Five Slamma Jamma.
Four majors are all you get. That's what tradition says. You want the Evian to be a major? Then toss out the Wegman's LPGA Championship, which is basically a long-standing title that was bestowed on a regular tour event to keep it from withering away to nothing. If Park wins this week, it's a Grand Slam. Case closed.
Questions for the Van Cynical Mailbag:
Gary, Which BGNTWM cares the most? The least? -- Floyd W. Harris via Twitter
If you mean Best Guy Never To Win a Major, then your answer in the "least" category is Sergio Garcia, who is playing some decent golf but seems resigned to his fate and doesn't seem to be in love with golf anymore. Steve Stricker, who is semi-retired, is a close second. Who cares the most? That would be Lee Westwood, who knows he has more game than a lot of guys who have won majors and certainly doesn't want to be the second coming of Colin Montgomerie, a Euro tour icon who never got the big prize. Westwood downplays his major chase because that's what he has to do.
Van Sickle, When will Dustin Johnson get that left wrist fixed and stop blowing drives wide right? That OB drive at the Canadian was over 100 yards off-line. -- MDA via Twitter
Don't worry, DJ is having Dr. Paulina Gretzky take a close look at that wrist.
Van Cynical, If you had one final round of golf, would you play with the Kardashians or Ben Hogan? -- Derek Lewis via Twitter
That's a tough call. The Kardashians would offer better scenery but I'd go with Hogan. I'd like to see that shotmaking. Also, there would be no nasal whining. Well, not by The Hawk, anyway.
Vans, Since the PGA Championship is dropping "Glory's last shot," what tagline would you replace it with? -- Chad Rucker via Twitter
My nominees: Just Wait Until April; Don't Mess With Club Pros; Final Jeopardy; The Dog Days of August But Without the Dogs; Golf's Ultimate Curtain Call; The Hottest Week in Golf; The Fab Fourth; or, You Gonna Finish That Pickle? Send me your suggestions. Maybe we can do better.
Van Cynical, Could the membership at Augusta National ever be talked into hosting the Ryder Cup? -- Chris Folds via Twitter
Well, they were going to admit women members at "the point of a bayonet" and that eventually happened. Never say never, but I'd say a Ryder Cup at Augusta National would be very unlikely. The club doesn't reopen until mid-October, which is getting late to hold a Ryder Cup, as far as the hours of daylight available. You know what would be a great match-play venue for the Ryder Cup? The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra. How much fun would the island-green 17th hole be in match play with the Ryder Cup on the line? For fans, a lot of fun. For players, not so much.
Vans, Why have so many younger Americans had one big year and taken a step backward the next? Like Bubba, Dufner, Keegan, etc. -- Brian Rosenwald via Twitter
Every story is different, but it's human nature to get complacent and let up after big success, especially big monetary success. And that includes the endorsement money that comes along with winning a major. It's not just limited to Americans. Charl Schwartzel, Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen haven't exactly lit up the sky since they won majors, either. It's just a tough league, man -- it's almost enough to make you start Dufnering.