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Is Parity Helping or Hurting the LPGA Tour?

Stacy Lewis
Stacy LewisScott Halleran/Getty Images
Ron JuckettContributor IIIDecember 12, 2012

For the first time in a long time, there is no alpha dog on the LPGA tour, and that is just fine.

Yani Tseng, the top player in the Rolex rankings, did indeed win three times this year, but not after March 22, and took home no majors.

Stacy Lewis won four times this season, taking tournaments in the Deep South and Japan.

No single player won more than one major, and we never even saw the best play out of Michelle Wie or Lexi Thompson.

So why is parity a good thing in a sport that gets very little attention most of the year?

One of the problems the LPGA has had over the years has been because the top player has been too dominant.

From Annika Sorenstam to Lorena Ochoa to Tseng, we really have yet to see a strong rival take down the best player in the past. Also, we saw Wie try way too many times to make a cut on the PGA Tour and fail. When the biggest name in the sport is doing everything she can to draw attention away from the tour, it is a problem.

With Tseng, Lewis, Ai Miyazato, Na Yeon Choi, Jiyai Shin and Suzann Petersen all multiple-time winners last season, we have a great chance now to turn this parity into a rivalry.

The LPGA needs casual fan attention. The tour has gone to great pains to get a following on social media sites such as Twitter, and it is working. Paula Creamer and Christina Kim are must-follows, along with the young Thompson.

This is not parity because of mediocrity; it is the emergence of perhaps the deepest fields on the LPGA tour in years, and the corporate and television partners are eating it up.

Good golf is good golf no matter who is swinging the clubs. Out of this group of players, the sport needs a couple to step up and have some good old-fashioned Sunday shootouts with big money and pressure on the line.

One of the things that put golf on the television map to begin with—outside of some of the beautiful courses they play on, like Augusta National and Pebble Beach—was the rivalry between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Palmer was the cowboy in the white hat, while Nicklaus was clearly the black-hatted villain. People watched in droves and then started to play the game.

That is what the LPGA needs right now. Instead of having the one super-player, they need that buzz on a weekend.

Someone will emerge from the group as the leader. Having a couple others break off into the lead pack will do nothing but good things for the tour and, more importantly, for the sport.

If we can develop a big three on the LPGA tour, then with their marketing, the sky can be indeed the limit.

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