TWO YEARS ago I wrote about Seve Ballesteros's retirement with great sadness; when I was a kid growing up in the game, he was such an inspiration to me. Now Seve's (below) suffering real hardship after he was found to have a brain tumor, which led to two surgeries last week and an uncertain future. A couple of confessions: As a kid I had a picture of Seve hanging on the bulletin board in my bedroom, and I snuck onto the range at the 1984 U.S. Open at Winged Foot just to watch him hit balls. His flair and passion were addictive, and his creativity was without parallel. Observing his fire in the Ryder Cup made a huge mark on me and spurred my love for the Solheim Cup. I had the great privilege of seeing him play in the 1995 Ryder Cup at Oak Hill—I cashed in frequent-flier and hotel miles a year ahead of time just to see him. He and David Gilford led off the afternoon four-ball on the first day with a 4-and-3 win over Peter Jacobsen and Brad Faxon, and though I was dressed in red, white and blue, I was in awe of the Spaniard—his fighting attitude, support of his teammates and craftiness. It is that fight that so many hope will carry him through this most difficult of medical battles and continue to inspire youngsters to paint the golf world in colors only Seve could imagine.
MORE TOUGH news for the LPGA, with ADT terminating its title sponsorship of the season-ending playoff. With roughly one third of the tour's events up for renewal and a network-TV partnership deal still incomplete, the loss of the ADT is alarming because along with the LPGA Championship and the Solheim Cup, the ADT is one of the few events that the LPGA actually owns. The event must find a title sponsor, fast. The tour maintains funds to prop up events in such cases, but it's believed the LPGA will need those dollars for the former Safeway International and the LPGA Championship, which has no presenting sponsor after 2009. Going forward, how will the tour save the must-have events, and what are the criteria for deciding which ones to rescue? Consider this, too: This week the NBA announced staffing and budget cutbacks, but over the last four years Carolyn Bivens's (above) LPGA administration reportedly has almost doubled its staff while decreasing the cut it takes from players' checks. I'm no economist, but something doesn't add up.
Dottie Pepper, a 17-year LPGA veteran and analyst for NBC and Golf Channel, welcomes mail at email@example.com.
DAVID WALBERG (PEPPER)
REMY DE LA MAUVINIERE/AP (BALLESTEROS)
SCOTT HALLERAN/GETTY IMAGES (BIVENS)