by Jeff Skinner
The LPGA starts its most important stretch of the season today at The LPGA State Farm Classic. The LPGA has had a start and stop first half of the season but it will be it action for the next five weeks, two of which are majors. The ladies have to be anxious to get back out there and play some golf, cash some checks and finally get in to the rhythm of a normal season.
The LPGA was dealt a blow when its number one player in the world, Jiyai Shin had to withdraw this week due to an emergency appendectomy. It’s just another bit of bad luck for the LPGA. At the biggest point in its season to lose the number one player in the world can’t be good. In fact Shin could miss the entire five week swing of tournaments. Karen Stupples had a similar operation last year and she was sidelined for six weeks. Shin would miss five tournaments and the two majors if she has the same recovery time. She would almost certainly lose her number one ranking as Ai Miyazato, Suzann Pettersen and Yani Tseng are very close to her in the standings.
The LPGA is at its make or break point in the season. The next five weeks could have a huge impact on the future of the tour. If the LPGA has exciting and compelling tournaments that are won by popular players, Michelle Wie especially, there could be an increase in the sponsors that would be willing to sign up for next season. This is the time commissioner Michael Whan and the tour needs its stars to show up in a big way. The biggest news for the LPGA this season has been Lorena’s retirement and with Shin going down this week Whan must feel like there’s a black cloud following the tour around. The next few weeks could be the difference between a full season of tour dates next year or another year of a part time tour.