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Asia new force in women's golf

Last updated: 11th December 2012

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US Women's Open champion Na Yeon Choi - leading Korea's charge to the top

US Women's Open champion Na Yeon Choi - leading Korea's charge to the top

The USA and the West is no longer the dominant force in women's golf. Asia, with South Korea leading the charge, has taken over in no uncertain terms.

You only have to look at the latest Rolex Women's World Rankings lists to see that.

Lead by Taiwan standout Yani Tseng and followed by Korea's Na Yeon Choi, eight of the top 10 golfers on the latest ranking list as the curtain comes down on most of Womens golf's more important 2012 Tours are Asians.

The two exceptions in this prestigious group are American No 1 Stacy Lewis, who is currently ranked at No 3 in the World, and Norway's European No 1 Suzann Pettersen, who is Ranked in 6th place..

Along with Choi, the four Koreans in the top 10 include the LPGA Tour's top money winner this year, Inbee Park at No 4, Jiyah Shin, briefly the World No 1 a year or two ago, at No 7 and So Yeon Ryo at No 8.

The other Asians making up the top 10 along with Tseng are China's first big star, Shanshan Feng at No 5 and Japan's Ai Miyazato at No 9 and her unrelated fellow country woman Mika Miyazato at No 10.

But this is not all that should concern the West and especially the Americans, whose US-based LPGA Tour, the most lucrative in the business, has also been taken over by the Asians.

With Park on top of the Tour's 2012 Money list and Choi in second place, five of the leading six and seven of the top 10 money earners this year are Asians with four of them being Koreans.

Lewis the No 3 money earner, Spain's Azahara Munoz at No 8 and Pettersen at No 9 were the only Westerners to make it.

Things look just as gloomy for the west if you go back to the Womens World Rankings and look at the top 50. Again it is lopsided with Asian golfers making up two thirds of all the golfers in this group.

The Top-50 breakdown on Monday, December 10, showed that 31 of the top 50 spots on the Women's World Ranking list were held by Asians, notably South Korea with 19 of those places and Japan with nine.

Against this, the collective West held only 19 places with eight of those places being the possession of Americans and the other 11 in the hands of the mainly mainland Europeans.

The only Brit in the Top 50 in the Women's World Rankings right now is Scotland's Catriona Matthew, who is ranked at No 14.

How the wheel turns! And if there is a big reason for this happening, it may have a lot to do with work ethic.

According to renowned US University professor Malcolm Gladwell's best-selling book 'Outliers - the story of success', Eastern peoples long ago developed a strong work ethic via the hard toil and long hours that they had to be put in to earn a living from their rice paddies of old and this still shines through in their modern industrial societies.

Certainly this seems to be the case with the Koreans, who it was recently reported, have had to make it an offence to run after-hour, extra-lesson, night schools because of the excessive strain this was putting on desperate-to-succeed school children and their families.

But it can't all be hard work and clearly the coaching clinics that are being developed by countries like Korea and Japan are spewing out even more talent these days than the once unmatchable US college system.

The downside of the Americans losing ground is that their LPGA Tour, the long-time powerhouse of women's golf, has been losing ground - and not all of this can be put down to the recent recession from which the USA is only just beginning to emerge.

It seems from recent insider comments that the American public' don't always find it as easy to identify with the Asian champions, some of whom are unable to communicate in English and have names that are difficult for a Westerner to remember and that this should be factored in as an additional reason why the LPGA Tour has been losing some of its glitter and pull with Television audiences and the tournament sponsors.

And so, it seems, there is a lot of work to be done to right the ship.

Americans, Europeans, Australians, South Africans and South Americans are all going to have to work a lot harder on their golfing skills if they wish to get back into the race and conversely the Asians are going to have to learn that to generate excitement among the fans and the sponsors, they are will have to learn the language and jack up their social skills. for as they have been saying for years, if you want to get along when in Rome, you should do as the Romans do.

For any sport to grow and prosper it needs to produce heroes that are both highly admired and much loved and it is always difficult to become one of those when you can't talk or understand the language and the culture of the society in which you are plying your trade..



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