Professional sports have always been carried by stars, and golf is no different. All you have to do is check out the TV ratings when Tiger isn't in the field for proof that star power is king. Unfortunately for the LPGA Tour, true stars have been few and far between since Annika Sorenstam left the scene. There have been a few pretenders, like Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer, but a real crossover celebrity just hasn't turned up in women's golf, until maybe now. Lexi Thompson is tall and blonde and drives the ball as long as most men. At age 16, she just became the youngest player ever to win an offical LPGA event. She's now a full member of the LPGA Tour, since the commissioner waived the 18-year-old age requirement and let Thompson become a full member of the Tour in 2012.
But what's she really like? A recent interview with T Magazine provides some insight (and also the news that her dad will likely stay on as her caddie on the LPGA Tour next year).
Q: Some teenage girls would have a hard time taking direction from their dads on the course. Your dad keeps talking about letting someone else carry your bag. Is he going to be your caddie next year? A: Probably. We’ve gotten along a lot better on the golf course lately. I will say that. We used to fight a good amount. Now it’s just so much more calm. Q: Your brother Nicholas has played on the P.G.A. Tour and your brother Curtis is on a golf scholarship at L.S.U. How do you explain your family’s golfing success? A: We live on the golf course, so that helps. I started with golf because I saw my brothers play, I was always watching them. It was my life. Growing up, we always played competitions like chipping, hitting. We still play matches on the course, usually for money now. We play probably 36 holes a day. I love it. Q: What are your goals in 2012? A: To continue to improve my overall game, to win more tournaments and contend at the major championships.
Is Tiger Woods the most polarizing figure in sports? A strange fact of life is that people like watching individuals and teams they hate as much as ones they love. It doesn't matter if it is politics, reality TV, or sports, villains attract as much or more attention as heroes, and we all love it. Along these lines, the Chattanooga Times Free Press recently published their list of the Top 5 Polarizing Individuals in Sports, with none other than Tiger Woods topping the list of the most controversial people in the last 10 years. Beating out the likes of Tim Tebow, LeBron James, Mike Vick and Dale Earnhardt Sr. is no easy task, but El Tigre managed to do it with flying colors. Here's the newspaper's take on the former World No. 1:
Tiger Woods: Even before it became common knowledge that Tiger was cuddling with half of the Eastern seaboard, Tiger was a love him/hate him guy because he dared to make a run at Jack Nicklaus' major championship record. He was the rare blend of the can't-miss TV because you did not want to miss the magic and the polarizing opinions that were originally divided by age. Whether Woods gets to Jack's 18 majors or not remains to be seen, but Woods is the single biggest lightning rod in sports right now (in fact, more women watch golf than ever before to cheer AGAINST Woods). And if you don't believe Tigers the biggest draw in sports, answer this question: Whether you love him or loathe him, if Tiger was in contention on Sunday at Augusta next spring, what would it take for you NOT to watch?
Interesting side note: Tiger also made the Top 5 Most Polarizing of All Time, along with Jackie Robinson, John McEnroe, Muhammad Ali and Pete Rose. Tweet of the Day **If you haven't yet read about the late Kim Jong-il's golf prowess and love of Caddyshack, it's worth a quick look. Apparently the star of Team America shot a 38-under par 34 for 18 holes and then quit golf, but continued to enjoy an occasional viewing of the Bill Murray classic until the day he died.