If the Solheim Cup were pickup basketball, you would have seen
Karrie Webb on the sidelines last week saying, "I've got next."
The Australian star, winner of six major championships and three
player-of-the-year awards, has long wanted to be part of the
biennial women's competition. Unfortunately, the Solheim is
restricted to teams from the U.S. and Europe. That left Webb with
nothing to do at Barseback but walk in the gallery and cheer for
Kelly Robbins, her American friend.
Webb wasn't the only sidelined star. Five of the top seven
players on the LPGA money list hail from countries that don't
qualify for the Solheim, including No. 2 Se Ri Pak, winner of
four majors and 17 other LPGA titles. That left many wondering if
either the Americans or the Europeans could handle a team of
Internationals. Consider this possible lineup: Pak, Webb, Hee-Won
Han, Jeong Jang, Lori Kane, Soo-Yun Kang, Mi Hyun Kim, Young Kim,
Candie Kung, Lorena Ochoa, Grace Park and Rachel Teske.
Men's golf faced the same situation a decade ago. Looking for a
way to get stars such as Greg Norman, Jumbo Ozaki and Vijay Singh
into Ryder Cup-style competition, the PGA Tour created the
Presidents Cup. The women could copy that formula or, recognizing
the difficulty that the PGA Tour has had in getting American
players and fans to embrace a second team competition, the women
could run screaming in the opposite direction. "I don't know if a
Presidents Cup would be right for us," LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw
said last week. "Finding a formula that doesn't take away from
the Solheim Cup is something we're mindful of."
O.K., how about a Women's World Cup? The LPGA announced last
Saturday that starting in February 2005, the Pezula Club in
Knysna, South Africa, will host a $1 million stroke-play
championship for two-woman teams from at least 20 countries.
Downside to a World Cup: It will exclude even more star players
than the Solheim. Also, the women played one in 2000, in
Malaysia, but the event was held only once.
Webb might have to organize her own team competition. Our choice
would be the Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and
Japanese against the Mexicans, Trobriand Islanders, players with
hard-K names (Kane, Kung, Kang and the many Kims) and Michelle
Wie, 13, is still an amateur, but she won't be by the time this
matter is addressed. --J.G.
COLOR PHOTO: JEFF J. MITCHELL/REUTERS PAK-AGE DEAL The new World Cup will include players like Se Ri.