By The Armchair Golfer
The LPGA season is underway at the Honda PTT LPGA Thailand. Forty-nine of the top 50 on the 2009 LPGA money list will tee it up at Siam Country Club outside of Bangkok, Thailand. World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa is the defending champion.
Although last year was tumultuous for the LPGA Tour, a new season and new commissioner had three of the LPGA's biggest stars in a sunny mood as they sat for a press conference on Tuesday.
Asked about LPGA commish Michael Whan and new sponsor announcements in recent weeks, Ochoa said, "We are all happy with the new commissioner. We're going in the right direction." Paula Creamer said, "His vision for our Tour is where it should be." Michelle Wie made it unanimous. "I've talked to Mike Whan and he's awesome. He sends e-mails to us and keeps in touch. He wants to know what we're thinking as players."
What the players think definitely matters. Just ask ex-LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens. It's early, but so far Whan's collaborative style is winning the players and a few new sponsors.
The three players also talked about their prospects as the season begins. Creamer, who suffered last year with a mysterious ailment, said she feels the best she has in a long time. Wie said she and other players are gunning for Ochoa's top spot. Lorena said she is just trying to concentrate on her own game and not be concerned about all the great talent chasing her, including last year's rookie of the year, Jiyai Shin.
Whether they're in for another bumpy season or not, look for the ladies to hang tough. The LPGA has survived since 1950 when a group of 13 women that included Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs and Betty Jameson founded the ladies tour. They'll be celebrating their 60th anniversary all year, which will include historic snapshots at LPGA.com.
Borrowing a phrase from Spock, who might be a commissioner candidate if Whan doesn't work out, may the LPGA live long and prosper.
(Images: Lancaster-Jones, Allison, /Flickr)