St.�Andrews finally opened its arms to the greatest female players in the
world last week, and the Women's British Open at the Home of Golf was a raging
success, 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, was
played from the normal tee but as a par-5, making par for the course 73. The
reason: Officials feared that bad weather would make the hole unreachable.
Really? Why couldn't they simply find a forward teeing ground to use in foul
conditions instead of messing with history, the most storied second shot in
golf and the value of par? Second, the pace of play was atrocious, with
multiple six-hour rounds clogging the course. Earlier this year the LPGA did an
admirable job of establishing and enforcing new pace-of-play regulations.
Rounds were noticeably faster, and the players were policing themselves
beautifully. 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 has
to step in and help speed up play at the Open as well as at its own events. No
doubt the R&A noticed. The welcome to golf's home was a huge step for the
women's game, but if the steps that followed were too slow, another invitation
may 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, including
Natalie Gulbis (right), who earned a huge first win two weeks ago at the Evian
Masters. The largest remaining question is whom Betsy should choose with her
two captain's picks. I'm pushing Nicole Castrale and Meaghan Francella, 11th
and 15th in the point standings, respectively. Both have won for the first time
this year, and in impressive fashion. Castrale beat Lorena Ochoa in a playoff
at the Ginn Tribute in June, and in only her sixth LPGA start Francella took
down Annika Sorenstam in a four-hole playoff in Mexico City. Yes, Castrale and
Francella are short on experience, but they are long on heart.
Dottie Pepper, a
17-year LPGA veteran and an analyst for NBC and Golf Channel, welcomes
questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.