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Major Mistakes The LPGA's new boss should step in to give credit where credit is due

Mr. Ty M. Votaw
Ladies Professional Golf Association

Dear Ty,

I know you're just starting out on the job, but let me call your
attention to a couple of absurdities involving the LPGA that you
are now in a position to correct.

I recently read in this magazine that Jane Blalock had never won
a major championship and thought, That's wrong, Blalock won the
Dinah Shore, in fact the very first one in 1972. What I didn't
realize until I looked it up in the LPGA Media Guide was that it
wasn't until 1983 that the Dinah became a major.

O.K. Nothing wrong with designating one of your top events a
major. But who in the world made the cockeyed decision that all
previous champions of the Dinah would not be given credit for
winning a major? It's not as if the tournament in those early
years was a female version of the Quad Cities. Almost from its
inception, the players considered the Dinah second only to the
U.S. Open in importance. The list of pre-'83 winners is laced
with all-stars: Blalock, Mickey Wright, Sandra Palmer, Judy
Rankin, Kathy Whitworth, Sandra Post two years running, Donna
Caponi and Nancy Lopez.

Let's look at a parallel situation. When Gene Sarazen made his
famed double-eagle at Augusta in 1935 and won the second
Masters, no one congratulated him on winning a major, thus
becoming the first player to win all four Grand Slam events. It
took time before the Masters was recognized as one of golf's Big
Four--no one is sure exactly when--but when it did happen, all
past winners got credit for a major.

Now, Ty, imagine telling Ben Hogan that although he, Byron
Nelson and Sam Snead have a collective six green jackets, they
won no major championships at Augusta. Chances are you might
have had that one-iron Ben hit at Merion in 1950 wrapped around
your neck.

While I have your attention, let me point out another injustice
you should correct. The LPGA took a step in the right direction
in February, when it altered its rules for admission into the
Hall of Fame, allowing Amy Alcott and Beth Daniel entry.
However, the system is still flawed, and not just because the
new rules only apply to active players. Case in point: Hollis
Stacy has won 18 tournaments, three of them U.S. Opens, but
she's still outside the Hall, tapping on the window. Do you
think that Hale Irwin, with 20 wins, three of them Opens, isn't
in the World Golf Hall of Fame? What's really ludicrous is that
if Stacy wins two more Opens, she would still not qualify for
the Hall under the LPGA's new point system. That's crazy.

Under the new criteria a major counts only two points versus one
for, say, the Firstar Classic. Ridiculous. Majors are more
important than that. What is also unfair to Stacy and the other
women who were in their prime from the late '60s to the late
'70s is that there were only two majors to compete for, not
four, as there had been years before and as there are again
today. You had the Open and the LPGA Championship, period. Susie
Berning won three Opens in six years. Got to do better than
that, Susie. Caponi won back-to-back Opens in 1969-70, plus a
pair of LPGAs. She also won the Dinah in '80 and the Peter
Jackson Classic (now called the du Maurier) three years before
it became a major. In my book that's the Grand Slam. What does
the LPGA say? Very impressive, Donna, but not good enough.

Three other outstanding players who, during their primes, had a
crack at only two majors were Blalock, Palmer and Rankin, who
won 71 tournaments collectively, but only two official majors,
Palmer's '72 Titleholders and '75 Open. None of these women are
in the Hall.

So what can you do about all this, Ty? First, I suggest that
while you're in Rancho Mirage this week, ask the 13 Dinah Shore
winners since 1983 whether or not the past champions should be
given credit for a major. Maybe put it to a vote. You can do it,
Ty. You da man.

Second, revisit the Hall of Fame qualification system. I realize
there is a veterans committee that this summer will review "the
accomplishments of retired LPGA players," but those women
mentioned above should not have to rely on a committee. They
should already be in on their merits.

Last, and this is a minor point, on the page of your '99 Guide
that ranks major championship leaders, you list NABISCO as a
major. No class, Ty. Nabisco makes cookies. Change it to DINAH

COLOR PHOTO: TONY TOMSIC Caponi won two Opens and LPGAs, the Dinah and the Peter Jackson. Very impressive, Donna, but not good enough.