St.¬†Andrews finally opened its arms to the greatest female players in theworld last week, and the Women's British Open at the Home of Golf was a ragingsuccess, although two blips kept it from being all it could have been. First,number¬†17, the Road Hole, a 453-yard par-4 in Open Championships, wasplayed from the normal tee but as a par-5, making par for the course 73. Thereason: Officials feared that bad weather would make the hole unreachable.Really? Why couldn't they simply find a forward teeing ground to use in foulconditions instead of messing with history, the most storied second shot ingolf and the value of par? Second, the pace of play was atrocious, withmultiple six-hour rounds clogging the course. Earlier this year the LPGA did anadmirable job of establishing and enforcing new pace-of-play regulations.Rounds were noticeably faster, and the players were policing themselvesbeautifully. Since mid-May, though, the pace seems to have crept backward.Granted, the Women's British is run by the Ladies Golf Union, but the LPGA hasto step in and help speed up play at the Open as well as at its own events. Nodoubt the R&A noticed. The welcome to golf's home was a huge step for thewomen's game, but if the steps that followed were too slow, another invitationmay not follow.
Two events remain before Betsy King's U.S.¬†Solheim Cup team is finalized.The core of her squad is playing great at just the right time, includingNatalie Gulbis (right), who earned a huge first win two weeks ago at the EvianMasters. The largest remaining question is whom Betsy should choose with hertwo captain's picks. I'm pushing Nicole Castrale and Meaghan Francella, 11thand 15th in the point standings, respectively. Both have won for the first timethis year, and in impressive fashion. Castrale beat Lorena Ochoa in a playoffat the Ginn Tribute in June, and in only her sixth LPGA start Francella tookdown Annika Sorenstam in a four-hole playoff in Mexico City. Yes, Castrale andFrancella are short on experience, but they are long on heart.
Dottie Pepper, a17-year LPGA veteran and an analyst for NBC and Golf Channel, welcomesquestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DAVID WALBERG (PEPPER)