Uncategorized

20190627 The Ridiculous Open Championship Website

The site url is: The Open For many years it has been the worst website in the world of golf. Sadly, it’s returned in 2019 more or less unchanged.

There are myriad reasons for its bottom-feeder status among golf sites, but the one that has always frustrated me the most is its player listing. This is is a completely incompetent, outmoded, collage of confusion – allied with an utter lack of appreciation of user needs.

Firstly, when you land on the homepage there is no link entitled ‘Players’ or ‘Field’ or ‘Qualifiers’. That’s ridiculous.

I’d suggest that finding out who’s playing would rank higher in user priorities than the links that are presented such as: ‘Upcoming Venues” or ‘Join the One Club”. I mean, seriously?

In fact, there are only two significant reasons for a person to visit the site in, say, May or June: finding out about players or tickets.

Anyway, you click the ‘Menu’ icon. Happily, there’s an entry entitled ‘Players & Qualification’ so you select that and it loads a page that contains, among a lot of dross, a link entitled ‘Players in the field’. This is an irritating extra step, but at least you feel you’re close to seeing the player list you seek.

What occurs next is not so good; in fact, it’s the most fucking brainless approach to a field list that has ever existed in the history of golf on the internet!

The ‘Players in the Field’ page loads and there is an icon at the top entitled ‘Filters’. Selecting it gives you 5 options: Champions, Amateurs, Debutants, Exempt & Not Playing. The last one is especially hilarious; as if you care that some retired 59-y-o who won The Open 30-some years ago isn’t going to get out of his wheelchair and use his last exemption in 2019!

Anyway, you’re looking for the players who will be playing and the only item among those 5 filters that seems logical is ‘Exempt’, so naturally you select it but it only returns a message stating “No results. Please try making your search a little wider.” Wider? wtf?

Not only is this moronic, but selecting any of those 5 filters returns the same ‘no results’ message. You wonder to yourself what level of website haplessness this represents.

However, you soldier on. Below the five useless filters there is a set of player pics and names. You immediately wonder how they’re ordered as the first two names are: Prom Meesawat & Yoshinori Fujimoto, so you know this listing is not in alphabetical or fame order.

However, upon scrolling, you discover there are 18 pics & names which you intuitively know, as a golf fan, is not everybody who has qualified as at today (27 June 2019) – just three weeks before tee-off.

Also, Ian Baker-Finch is listed and you can’t recall him teeing it up in a golf tournament for years. Anyway, despite some growing suspicions, you continue your torturous website experience.

After initially being concerned that there were only 18 qualifiers listed, you scroll and discover a ‘Load More’ button, off screen, at the bottom of the page. You click it and 18 more pics and names are added in a new page. It’s hard to put into words how annoying this is but you’re getting the hang of such inconvenient impishness and scroll, again, to the bottom of the new page.

Sure enough, there’s an icon entitled ‘Load More’. So you click it and, yes you guessed it, another 18 pics & players load. You’re up to 54 players now and you wonder how long this madness will go on!

Nonetheless, like a monkey in training, you scroll, again, to the bottom of this new page. Sure enough, there’s that icon entitled ‘Load More’ so you click it and, lo and behold, a new page loads with 18 more pics & players added. 72 players.

Scroll to the bottom, again, and there’s the now too familiar ‘Load More’ icon; it’s now as welcome as a red warning light on your dashboard in rush hour, when it’s raining and you’re running late for a meeting!

But, like the helpless victim you now are, you click it and a new page loads and, now a fully trained monkey, you immediately scroll to the bottom and discover that there’s no ‘Load More’ icon there. Your field of Open qualifiers must be complete! Your search for The Holy Grail is over!

The final two players listed are: Padraig Harrington & Rory McIlroy, confirming, as you suspected from the first page, that the listing is randomised. Anyway, to make sense of a now huge page, and to get rid of the unnecessary player photos, you copy it and paste it into MS Excel.

There, you filter out all the redundant data and end up with a list of 75 players to contemplate. At last, sigh.

To try and double-check these data, you visit the European Tour site for The Open and select ‘Entry List’. It returns a message stating “Entry List will be displayed here when it is made available” Not for the first time, the ET site proves unhelpful.

However, you then recall (too late!) some output from the excellent and helpful Rob Bolton (@RobBoltonGolf) on the other side of the world; a 26 June (yesterday) tweet linking to article for PGATour entitled: 2019 Qualifiers for majors, THE PLAYERS, WGCs

You check it and find there are 135 players listed as qualified for The Open; no Ian Baker-Finch, by the way.

Wait, 135 players? The Official site lists only 75. Somebody’s wrong!

Of course, the culprit is the Official Open website with its exasperatingly hopeless approach to user-friendliness – and to pretty much everything else.

My two conclusions:

  1. If you want info on Europe’s only golf Major, go to a USA source and;
  2. For health reasons, never, ever, ever, visit the Official Open site.

 

Ⓒ Copyright MJ Miller (Mike) 27 June 2019.

 

 

 

Announcement

20190617 Important Announcement!

Exec Summary

Henceforth, my own published prices each week will be a lot more opinionated.

Hiya,

I’ve been publicly churning out my tournament sheets since 2012; privately since 2003. In recent times I’ve become bored with the player pricing aspect. Fair enough, right?

So, to re-energise my interest, I plan to change things up a bit.

Background

I’ve always calculated my own prices (odds) for each player to win outright – for just about every golf tournament on which there is betting (and dfs).

If I planned to publish my prices, I mostly awaited bookmaker prices & cross-checked before publication, for three reasons:

  • Sometimes, I want to bet on what I view as a wrong bookmaker price before sharing and;
  • We all make mistakes so I like to ensure that I don’t publish too many large, or just plain stupid, pricing errors and, most significantly;
  • I massage a lot of my own prices closer to the market, simply because I can’t be bothered defending, or discussing on twitter, 57 differing price opinions for which I have a low care factor.

So, an element of my sheet preparation process has been price conservatism. That’s now out the door.

My New Approach

For selected tournaments, I’m henceforth going to publish my own completely unedited prices for followers, alongside the market prices. I’ll do this for at least: PGA, European, Champions & LPGA Tours; more if time permits….

Over time you’ll be able to judge for yourself whether or not this higher level of price differentiation is a value-add. If it’s not, I’ll stop.

Why Bother?

Firstly, it’ll be more enjoyable for me and I need that shot in the arm!

Secondly, this output could be of interest because the state of today’s odds-making is such that in golf, as in other sports, there is only a tiny group of professionals and all other ‘bookmakers’ (sic) or ‘odds-setters’ (sic) simply: steal, Copy & Paste.

In such an environment, one odds-maker’s opinion can swiftly become every bookmaker’s opinion and then quickly morph into a uniform, global, betting market.

I’m going to bring to this environment a second, independent, set of strong price opinions that will sometimes conflict with that global uniformity.

What does this mean for you?

It means there’ll often be an alternative, informed, price opinion out there.

For example, you may be staring at a bookmaker or betting exchange price or a DK salary and thinking to yourself “That’s just fucking wrong!”

Given the above-mentioned homegeneity in betting markets, there’s nowhere for you to get a second opinion – to affirm or challenge your personal judgement.

My hope is that my output might be that second opinion.

Some Comments on Modern Bookmaking

With the ever-increasing, global, corporatisation & computerisation of sports bookmaking, accountants and risk managers (ie mostly colourless wankers) are looking over the shoulders of every bookmaker, every week.

This oversight has two profound effects:

Firstly, it creates Fear.

Once a golf betting market exists, every bookmaker is reluctant to challenge it because the only way to protect his job after a bad week’s results is to have a defence in place.

A common & good defence is, “Our prices were in line with the market. Sorry Boss, not my fault, the wrong guy won.”

Secondly, the primary flow-on effect of this fear is the auto-generation of Sameness or Price Uniformity.

A golf bookmaker can now rarely (never?) use his skills, golf & customer knowledge to try to make more money for his business via price differentiation – so those prices we see, and the dfs salaries which to some extent derive from them, are boringly and suspiciously uniform.

In fact, they’re basically all the same! Always! Everywhere! In a normal human world, there would be many differing, professional, price opinions all over the place. Sadly, the inhumane accountants have put paid to that!

In Conclusion

I’ll get started as soon as I can. Two or three tournaments this week; full-on by next week.

It won’t be every tournament (I don’t have the time) but I’ll properly prepare and publish as much as I can.

Based on my past observations, you’ll be surprised at the size of some of the price variances, and hopefully pleased as well.

Good Luck with all of your golf gambling involvement.

Cheers, Mike.

 

 

Uncategorized

20190307 Golf Strength by Country

Executive Summary

Top Countries for Mens’ Golf: USA, England, Australia, South Africa, Japan …. (full listing  of 60 below).

Top Countries for Womens’ Golf: South Korea, USA, Japan, Thailand, England ….. (full listing of 49 below).

Combined Nation rankings (Top5): USA, South Korea, Japan, England, Australia.

 

Introduction

This post was inspired by a twitter follower @TolfGipster who was pondering the strength of Korean Mens’ golf and how many Koreans would eventually make the World Top10.

It got me thinking about how I would rank all the countries in the world for their ‘golf strength’.

Logic

I crunched some numbers, primarily using owgr average points, and taking a variety of approaches.

I looked at counting wins and / or places but the data set was too small.

I also looked at averaging the points per player but a Rory McIlroy, Lydia Ko or Jhonattan Vegas skewed their countries’ number too much.

The data below were drawn from the official world golf rankings as at 3 March 2019; there were 2,016 players with points.

My final rankings are sorted in order of the sum of owgr points for each country – which I deemed the best ‘national strength indicator’. Even this is skewed because players in a few countries enjoy Pro Tours where owgr points can be earned without traveling overseas.

Anyway, for better or worse, here are the tabulations. Scroll down for the Womens’ table.

For additional indicative context, I’ve added, in the final column, the number of players from each country that contributed points.

Country Rankings (Male) 2,016 players:

Rank Country Points Players
1 USA 263.64 467
2 England 72.61 187
3 Australia 47.56 142
4 South Africa 40.55 129
5 Japan 34.79 111
6 South Korea 31.97 146
7 Spain 23.28 42
8 Sweden 21.28 79
9 Thailand 17.82 68
10 France 14.42 73
11 Scotland 12.10 47
12 Denmark 10.74 40
13 Italy 10.48 31
14 China 9.60 27
15 India 8.78 36
16 Canada 8.57 35
17 Germany 7.39 44
18 Northern Ireland 7.00 7
19 New Zealand 6.80 24
20 Ireland 6.19 18
21 Argentina 5.44 25
22 Finland 4.74 18
23 Mexico 4.17 14
24 Belgium 4.10 7
25 Netherlands 3.59 16
26 Taiwan 2.71 17
27 Chile 2.54 10
28 Austria 2.38 18
29 Malaysia 2.22 14
30 Philippines 2.21 9
31 Wales 2.12 10
32 Norway 1.69 15
33 Zimbabwe 1.69 5
34 Portugal 1.63 10
35 Colombia 1.47 6
36 Venezuela 1.40 2
37 Switzerland 0.94 6
38 Brazil 0.93 5
39 Paraguay 0.89 1
40 Slovakia 0.78 2
41 Bangladesh 0.70 5
42 Greece 0.69 1
43 Poland 0.57 2
44 Singapore 0.51 8
45 Czechia 0.47 6
46 Puerto Rico 0.43 1
47 Iceland 0.39 5
48 Fiji 0.36 1
49 Hong Kong 0.27 2
50 Pakistan 0.25 5
51 Indonesia 0.20 4
52 Zambia 0.20 1
53 Guatemala 0.09 1
54 Botswana 0.08 1
55 Morocco 0.08 3
56 Sri Lanka 0.08 3
57 Costa Rica 0.04 1
58 Uruguay 0.03 1
59 Nigeria 0.01 1
60 Russia 0.01 1

Country Rankings (Female) 1,122 players

Using the same logic as for the Men, the Womens’ ranking are tabulated below.

The data were extracted from the Rolex Rankings at 3 March 2019:

Rank Country Points Players
1 South Korea 132.69 245
2 USA 74.14 152
3 Japan 57.02 242
4 Thailand 21.49 59
5 England 14.06 32
6 Australia 13.20 27
7 Taiwan 10.27 59
8 Sweden 9.78 34
9 China 9.68 46
10 Spain 9.16 24
11 Canada 6.14 11
12 Germany 4.82 10
13 France 4.12 34
14 New Zealand 4.05 6
15 South Africa 1.90 8
16 Norway 1.72 10
17 Mexico 1.51 6
18 Netherlands 1.49 2
19 Scotland 1.45 12
20 Denmark 1.23 5
21 India 1.13 10
22 Finland 0.96 13
23 Puerto Rico 0.79 1
24 Wales 0.69 5
25 Philippines 0.66 10
26 Colombia 0.61 3
27 Belgium 0.47 5
28 Austria 0.45 3
29 Czechia 0.39 6
30 Iceland 0.37 3
31 Italy 0.32 7
32 Switzerland 0.32 6
33 Georgia 0.30 1
34 Israel 0.25 1
35 Ireland 0.23 1
36 Hong Kong 0.22 1
37 Northern Ireland 0.22 1
38 Slovenia 0.21 1
39 Malaysia 0.17 6
40 Paraguay 0.14 1
41 Singapore 0.12 3
42 Morocco 0.10 1
43 Peru 0.05 1
44 Hungary 0.04 1
45 Russia 0.04 1
46 Brazil 0.03 3
47 Latvia 0.02 1
48 Swaziland 0.02 1
49 Panama 0.01 1

If we unite the two sets of rankings to calculate an overall global ranking for both genders, USA wins, well ahead South Korea, Japan, England, Australia, South Africa, Thailand & Spain.

 

Ⓒ Copyright MJ Miller (Mike) 7 March 2019.

 

Golf Editorial

20190210 Incompetent ALPG?

I was dismayed last week to read the ALPG tournament schedule and see an event for this week entitled ‘Vic Open’. There was no sponsor name.

The absence of the sponsor name was staggering to me as ALPG had announced to the media on 7 December 2018 that a naming rights sponsor (inevitably that Australasian golf serial-rescuer, ISPS Handa) had been secured for the tournament.

Yet here we were in early February and ALPG hadn’t bothered to update the tournament name to reflect that sponsorship!

I say that’s either incompetent, in extremis, or demonstrative of a complete lack of respect. It has to be one or the other.

Might such behaviour partly explain why ALPG has failed to retain so many of its sponsors in recent years?

———————————————

Then, today, I see the ALPG site carrying a media release relating to an upcoming tournament previously known as Australian Ladies Classic Bonville. While that was an unnecessarily long title (should have been Bonville Classic?) the new one is a real beauty:

“The Pacific Bay Resort Australian Ladies Classic – Bonville, presented by Geoff King Motors.”

Pacific Bay Resort

Now we all know it’s difficult to attract sponsorship monies to Ladies golf, but here’s a wickedly unwieldy title trying to be all things to all people. And failing. Miserably. There are a lot of redundant words in that silly title!

It’s not remotely catchy and it’s far too long for me to use it on my site. I’m sure Oddschecker won’t use it and the bookmakers who offer betting on it (which helps fund Australian golf, by the way) won’t use this title either. Persons talking about the tournament in the street or in bars won’t use it ……

However, my main point is that the media announcement was from Golf NSW, not ALPG. In fact, ALPG did not even rate a mention in the media release, see it here

I don’t know the details but, to me, this looks like ALPG aiding and abetting another organisation to trumpet the fact that it had succeeded where ALPG had failed – in the securing of sponsorships.

Further, ALPG didn’t even have the nous to either add its own paragraph into the press release or release one of its own on the topic: welcoming the new sponsors on board, thanking Golf NSW for its excellence and stating how this is good news for its members. Nothing! Squat! Doughnut! Sweet FA!

Even further, if you visit the ALPG site to read about the organisation, it mentions the following:

screenshot-alpg.com.au-2019.02.10-09-48-52

Fyi, neither Oates nor McKayson are now sponsors; they’ve been lost. No mention of new sponsor The Pacific Bay Resort either!

An organisation that fails to update its website (its ‘window to the world’) to reflect commercial reality is no big deal in the greater scheme of things but it certainly is indicative of either commercial naivety or lack of a care. Whichever, it’s yet another sign….

I’ve railed on a bit in some recent blogs about competent (Mike Whan, LPGA) and incompetent (Mark Lichtenhein, LET) tour leadership during a critical era for female golf.

The above simple examples suggest to me that either the ALPG Board or CEO Karen Lunn, or both, need to be added to the ‘incompetent’ category.

 

Ⓒ Copyright MJ Miller (Mike) 10 February 2019

 

Golf Editorial

20190131 Aussie Golf Confusion

Introduction

Cleaning company Oates has ceased its sponsorships of both the male & female Australasian golf tours for 2019. Fortunately, Japanese charity ISPS Handa has stepped-in and plugged the sponsorship gap. Again.

In fact, Handa largely has been the saviour of a number of tournaments, both in Australasia and elsewhere, during recent years and it is the naming rights sponsor of both versions of next week’s Victorian Open (more on this later) as well as the the two upcoming flagship events: the Australian Womens’ Open and the Perth Super6.

vicopen_2019logo_298x168

ISPS Handa as a welcome saviour needs to be viewed in the context of the sponsors lost to Australasian pro golf during the past five years: Lexus of Blackburn, BMW, Oates, WA Goldfields, Mazda, Nanshan, Gold Key Financial, Rebel Sport, Inghams, McKayson, BWAC Regional Employment Services, Renault, RACV, Mulpha, Seasons Aged Care, Bing Lee, Fujitsu, Mercedes Benz Truck and Bus, Volvik, Horizon Golf, Holden, Qantas & UNIQLO.

That’s a very long list of former sponsors for two small tours to accumulate in five short years! In fact it’s atrocious, a golfing world’s worst and an indictment of the leadership of both tours!

Sponsorship aside, to me Australasian (or Australian?) golf presents online in many ways as a tangled web of confusion. Below are some of the reasons why.

An Unresponsive Social Media Presence – specifically twitter

Neither Australian pro tour responds to legitimate twitter questions from followers; I know, I’ve tried; over many years. Such arrogance, or stupidity, is unnecessary, irritating and it alienates people.

I would probably never have written this somewhat critical blog if either Tour had ever shown me the courtesy of a reply to any legitimate question.

If you want to follow the Mens’ Tour on twitter and you type ‘pga tour of australasia’ into the search box it does not return the Tour’s twitter account as a result. If you try ‘pgat australasia’ it returns no results! Good luck even finding its twitter account.

Australia or Australasia?

The Ladies Tour is named “Australian Ladies Professional Golf”.

alpg logo

Firstly, it’s a stupid name because it doesn’t include the word ‘Tour’.

Secondly, this title does not embrace New Zealand, despite ALPG being the sanctioning body for pro golf in Australia and New Zealand.

The Male tour is named “ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia”. I applaud that, unlike its female counterpart, it embraces New Zealand via use of the word ‘Australasia’ but the name still fails on two counts:

  • The use of a sponsor name in its organisation’s title is cheap, tacky and temporary as well as being almost unheard of in the world of professional golf and;
  • The use of the phrase ‘PGA Tour’ in its organisational title is simply naivety in extremis; why promote the name of a competitor? The primary mens’ tours of: Europe, South Africa, Japan & Asia did not deem it advisable to include ‘PGA Tour’ in their tour titles.

Gender Equality

The Victorian Open was one of the trailblazers in hosting male and female golfers together, and now with the added marketing-point of equal prize money.

I’m sure that’s a nice warm fuzzy feeling for the organisers and sponsors, especially in light of the recent rise to prominence of the #MeToo movement. However, it does fly in the face of commercial reality and is thus more of a headline than a meaningful new direction.

While equal prize money for female golfers is a noble goal to pursue, it will not be achieved until:

  • The female physique has evolved to the point where it’s equal in strength to its male counterpart and;
  • Females are equally represented on the boards and executive of sponsoring organisations.

Tournament Names

The PGA Tour of Australasia has named its Victorian event next week “ISPS Handa Vic Open” though up to this week it was entitled “ISPS Handa Victoria Open”. This vacillation between ‘Vic’ & ‘Victoria” was unnecessary and unprofessional but at least it included the sponsor’s name.

Not so the case in respect of the ALPG Tour, whose schedule contains an event next week named ‘Vic Open’: See excerpt from the ALPG site (31Jan2018) below:

alpg screenshot

The sheer incompetence, and unawareness of commercial reality, inherent in listing an upcoming tournament without mention of its naming rights sponsor beggars belief.

This type of amateurish oversight is one of many reasons why Tours such as LET & ALPG struggle to recruit and retain sponsors.

Websites

The ALPG site looks as though a group of retired graphic designers from a past decade were thrown in a room given a free hand and one hour to create it.

It’s not even ‘https’ (encrypted).

It’s very much 1990’s in look and feel, presents as a conflicting rainbow jumble of colours and uses fonts and layout for which I’d fire any designer on my staff!

Its layout ethos can only be summarised as: “Let’s get it right at the very top of the page and for everything else let’s take some drugs and party!”

The Mens’ Tour site is actually not its site; it’s an area within the PGA of Australia site!

Yes, a professional golf tour in 2019 is piggy-backing its critical web presence on an amateur body’s (awful) site that primarily exists to serve all areas of the game of golf except professionals.

Have you ever wondered why the PGA Tour has its own site instead of being a sub-set of the PGA of America’s? Do even the lowly EuroPro or Alps golf tours have their own sites?

Further, the Aussie PGA site has the most confusing navigation of any Tour site on earth. It’s simply too easy to become lost (eg clicking on ‘Tournaments’ and arriving at a page that doesn’t list tournaments, etc). I could write a thesis on the fundamental deficiencies of this site but that’s a topic, or a nice consultancy earn, for another day.

This stupidity surely only exists because the Tour doesn’t have its own site. I hope so. Whatever the reason, and this is the crux of the issue, PGATA itself doesn’t care.

Ladies or Women?

LPGA Tour (L = Ladies) and ALPG (L = Ladies) are co-sanctioning an upcoming event; the biggest female golf event of any year in Australia, its Open.

What is the tournament’s name? It’s the Womens’ Australian Open. My question, ladies, is why isn’t it named the Ladies Australian Open?

Further, if the current name is deemed the correct one, then why aren’t the two organisations named WPGA & WLPG?

In my opinion, either the word ’Women’ or ‘Ladies’ needs to be deleted from the lexicon of female golf forever; the sooner the better.

In conclusion

Australian golf has a lot to offer the world and the country possesses more than 60 quality courses that have hosted professional tournaments in recent years.

Australia also produces more than its fair share of world class amateurs and professionals; both male and female.

But its tour sites are letting its entire golf community down and showcasing Australian and New Zealand pro golf in an amateurish manner to a global audience.

It’s therefore time for a shake-up, to introduce some online professionalism and help lay the groundwork for the recruitment of future sponsors and, critically, to retain those few that remain on board today.

 

Copyright MJ Miller (Mike) 31 January 2019

Golf Editorial

20190102 Eisenhower & Esperito Santo Trophies as Predictors

Eisenhower Trophy

The Eisenhower Trophy is the biennial World Amateur Team Championship for men, organised by the International Golf Federation.

IGF logo

It was named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the President of the United States, when the tournament was first played in 1958. It’s been played every even-numbered year since that time.

It first appeared on my personal radar when my country, New Zealand, briefly became competitive: 2nd in 1990 and the winner in 1992.

I’ve followed it closely since my interest in golf betting got serious, after my first ever golf bet ($50 on Bernhard Langer to win the 1993 Masters @ 50/1) won.

My interest was also spurred by the realisation that the sheer breadth of the Eisenhower competition, involving as it does the best amateurs from so many countries, made it a true scoping of global talent.

Not only that, but players complete 4 rounds of stroke play – the perfect measuring stick for persons like me who are interested in betting on golf tournament outcomes. Each team now has 3 players and the two best scores each round count towards the team total, but it is individual scoring performances on which I focus.

1992 (Canada)

That winning 1992 NZ team included Michael Campbell who went on to record 15 pro wins including a US Open. His first pro wins were in 1993, 1994 (3) & 1995.

1994 (France)

USA prevailed by 11 strokes with a team that included Tiger Woods. Interestingly, it was played at Le Golf National’s Albatros Course, the venue of the 2018 Ryder Cup; not one of Tiger’s happiest events!

USA team member Allen Doyle won the individual stroke play honours; he won 3 pro tournaments in 1995.

Tiger, who was 6th overall, started winning pro tournaments in 1996.

My point here is that we could to some extent predict progression to early professional success for Eisenhower stars and it’s a trend that has been maintained in more recent times..

Let’s now skip ahead to more recent Eisenhower’s and take a look at those who starred and what’s occurred since.

2014 (Japan)

USA won and its team was pretty useful: Bryson DeChambeau, Beau Hossler & Denny McCarthy. Bryson won the US Amateur in 2015 and his first pro tournament in 2016. Beau & Denny are also now both PGA Tour card holders.

The individual stroke play was won by Jon Rahm of Spain from Victor Perez, Lucas Herbert & Alejando Tosti.

Rahm’ subsequent ascent to near the apex of world golf is well documented while Herbert & Perez are already rising young stars on the European Tour. Tosti turned pro only at the end of 2017 and is yet to make his mark in the pro ranks.

Close behind in the stroke play standings came: Denny McCarthy, Marcus Kinhult, Bryson DeChambeau. Corey Conners, Renato Paratore …… Plenty of recognisable names there.

2016 (Mexico)

This was not a vintage year, and Australia cantered to victory by 19 strokes, led by Cameron Davis & Curtis Luck – who finished 1st & 2nd in the individual standings.

Davis has since won the 2017 Australian Open and a Web.com tournament in 2018. Huge promise!

Luck hasn’t yet performed as well as his compatriot, but 3xTop10’s on the 2018 Web.com Tour hint at what’s to come.

Adrian Meronk of Poland tied 3rd. He had a solid season on the 2018 European Challenge Tour (9xTop25’s) and is a strong candidate to graduate in 2019.

Sung-Ho Yun tied 3rd. He had a 2nd in his first season on the Korean Mens’ Tour in 2018 and is also expected to progress in 2019.

Alfie Plant also tied 3rd. He subsequently won the 2017 European Amateur but is yet to make his mark in the pro ranks.

Viktor Hovland was 7th. He has since finished 2nd in the 2018 European Amateur and won the 2018 US Amateur. His most recent start was a highly meritorious 13th in the 2018 Australian Open. Watch this space!

2018 (Ireland)

Denmark won from USA in the Teams’ event while the individual title was narrowly won by Spain’s Alejandro del Rey from Japan’s Takumi Kanaya.

Del Rey is at Arizona State (a Sun Devil theme here; see Jon Rahm above) and is a 20-y-o long-hitter. Watch this space too!

20-y-o Kanaya, since the Eisenhower, has won the Asia-Pacific Amateur, finished 24th in the Japan Open, missed the cut in a JGTO tournament and signed-off 2018 with 17th at the Australian Open. Keep a close eye on him in 2019!

Nicolai Højgård, a member of the winning Danish team, was born only in 2001 and counts an Open Championship start (2018; MC), a PGT win  and the 2018 European Amateur title on his cv.

His identical twin, Rasmus, was also a team Denmark member and, identical to his twin brother, was T6 in the 2018 Eisenhower. He’s already played a handful of pro events in Europe as an amateur and is expected to progress upward in the coming years.

Justin Suh tied 3rd. He played the 2016 US Open (MC) and finished 4th & 6th in the stroke play qualifier of the US Amateur in 2016 & 2018. Big things expected.

New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier tied 3rd with Suh. He was the stroke play medalist at the 2018 US Amateur, has placed Top20 in the past three Asian Amateurs and has three Top25’s from a handful of PGAT Australasia starts.

And so on …..

Conclusions

Amateur prominence is no guarantee of either accession to the pro ranks or success after arrival.

However, knowledge is power and it can enable bettors to back some highly promising ‘unknown’ players at great prices a few times, before everybody else jumps aboard and starts destroying their prices.

Esperito Santo Trophy

Turning to the Womens’ game, the Esperito Santo was launched in 1964 and, like the Eisenhower, is played bi-annually. 50+ countries compete.

I started following it from 2008 (Australia) when Sweden annexed the title by 12 strokes with a team of: Caroline Hedwall, Pernilla Lindberg & Anna Nordqvist. Two have since won Majors.

2010 (Argentina)

Korea beat a USA team including Jessica Korda by a monstrous 17 strokes, setting a tournament scoring record in the process. It was only Korea’s 2nd team title (1996) but a precursor of a dominant period to come; and, I suspect, ongoing!

2012 (Turkey)

Lydia Ko won the individual title, having finished 31st in 2010 as a 13-y-o. She was hardly unknown though, having already won the US Amateur & several pro tournaments including the LPGA’s Canadian Open!

The winning Korean team included 16-y-o Q Baek who won 3 times in Korea and once on the LPGA during 2014. Also, 17-y-o Hyo-Joo Kim who has since won 12 times, incl the 2014 Evian Championship!

2014 (Japan)

Australia beat Canada with Korea 3rd in the teams’ event.

17-y-o Brooke Henderson was top individual. She’s since posted 7 pro wins (incl a Major) with her first win coming in 2015.

Australia’s 18-y-o Min-Jee Lee was 2nd. She’d won the Vic Open as an amateur and also had her first pro win in 2015.

A pretty good supporting cast, too, with the next names on the leaderboard being: Alison Lee, Bronte Law, Su Oh, Linnea Strom & Anne Van Dam

2016 (Mexico)

Back to business-as-usual with a thumping Korean victory, this time by 21 strokes!

17-y-o Hye Jin Choi was the individual stroke play winner. She’s won 4 times on the KLPGA Tour since joining in 2017.

Puk Lyng Thomsen of Denmark was 2nd; she has entered the USA collegiate golf system.

Third was 16-y-o Korean Min-Ji Park who turned pro and joined the KLPGA Tour in 2017. She already has two wins (plus 4x3rd’s) so watch for her emergence onto the global stage.

Notable names a bit further down that 2016 scoreboard were: Daniela Darquea (5th), Leona Maguire (6th) and 16-y-o Nasa Hataoka (11th) who is my tip for the 2019 LPGA Money List title!

2018 (Ireland)

This produced a rare USA victory over asian powerhouses, Japan & Korea. I suspect it’ll prove to be a significant title, too, for a country looking hard for its next-gen golf heroines. Paste these girls in your hat:

The individual winner was 18-y-o Korean Aye-An Cho. She’s had one start since, a 6th on the KLPGA. She’d previously made 10 cuts on that tour as an amateur! Promising!

Joint runners-up were USA’s Jennifer Kupcho and Japan’s Yuka Yasuda.

Kupcho finished 21st at the 2017 US Open and was recently 2nd in the LPGA QSchool to win her card for 2019.

Yasuda has competed sporadically on the JLPGA Tour since July 2017 and has already notched up 5xTop20’s including 3rd & 7th!

USA ‘s 21-y-o Kristen Gillman finished 4th. She owns a stellar amateur record going back to 2013 including the 2014 US Womens Amateur title. She won on the JLPGA Tour in July 2018 as an amateur and also recently received her 2019 LPGA Tour card at QSchool.

Canada’s Jaclyn Lee was next. She was a quarter-finalist at the 2018 British Amateur (4th in stroke play) and recently also won her LPGA card for 2019.

Conclusion

The Esperito Santo is a massively powerful predictor of future pro success for (young) amateurs. More so than the male equivalent. Take note!

 

© Copyright MJ Miller (Mike) 2 January 2019

Uncategorized

20181129 LET: Losing Every Tournament

I Used to Like the LET

I used to admire the LET (Ladies European Tour). In many ways, it reminded me of a much-liked childhood fairytale: ‘The Little Engine that Could’.

LET Logo.jpg

For evidence of that admiration, look no further than the Mikes Awards it earned for: 2015 & 2016’s Best Tour Site (men or women) and its runner-up gong for 2016’s Best Tour Tweeter!

That admiration endured until perhaps two years ago when LET entered a spiraling decline, seemingly on all fronts: online quality, tournament schedule, relationships with other golf governing bodies, sponsorships and, especially, leadership.

To me, the LET today looks to be on the brink of either bankruptcy or irrelevance, like the OneAsia Tour did last year; it’s an eerily similar decline. Today, the LET offers less than half of an acceptable schedule for its playing members!

Its failed CEO, Ivan Khodabakhsh, was kicked out in August 2017 and to date no replacement has been appointed. That’s a gap of 15 months, which to me is beyond belief. Is the problem affording one? Well, you can’t afford to not have one!

Womens Sports

Life is never easy where sponsorship is difficult to secure yet key to survival; even more so for womens’ sports, such as golf. Across all of sports the men have garnered the lion’s share of available sponsorship dollars.

Nonetheless, global womens’ sports such as tennis have made giant strides in the area of sponsorship / prize money. In golf, so has the LPGA which itself was in struggling decline not so many years back. It solved its problem via the appointment of a quality CEO, Mike Whan, and is today a healthier tour than it’s ever been. Leadership matters! Are you listening, LET?

It’s no surprise that Whan’s from both a golf and marketing background with a steely focus on building sponsor partnerships. It is against this background of LPGA success that the LET, as historically the planet’s second-ranked womens’ golf tour, must be measured and it doesn’t measure-up! Today, it may not even be the world’s #3 ladies tour; even the lowly Symetra Tour, the LPGA’s feeder, presented 21 tournaments from March to October in 2018 at $100-225k per week.

Lost Tournaments

I had a flick through my database to see what’s disappeared from the LET tournament schedule since 2014: Turkish Airlines Ladies Open – Turkey, Deloitte Ladies Open – Netherlands, European Masters – UK, Ladies Italian Open – Italy, Tipsport Golf Masters – Czech Republic, Helsingborg Open – Sweden, Omega Dubai Ladies Masters – UAE and Ladies German Open – Germany. It’s a long list!

There were also ‘disappeared’ joint-sanction tournaments: RACV Ladies Masters – Australia, Vic Open – Australia, Sanya Ladies Open – China, World Ladies Championship – China, Xiamen Ladies International Open – China, Buick Championship / Invitational – China …

In toto, that’s a lot of ‘disappeared’s’ in just four years. A lot more than any other golf tour on earth, in fact.

Most concerning must be the loss of continental european events and sponsors; this is LET’s home turf. Countries with a proven appetite for sponsoring, attending and watching womens’ golf tournaments. There are no longer LET tournaments played in any of these big Euro-markets: Great Britain, Sweden, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Netherlands, Czech Republic ….

That’s a damning indictment on the LET and especially its Chairman, and for the past 15 months, acting CEO – Mark Lichtenhein. Is he playing Nero, fiddling while Rome burns? We all hope not.

Current (2018) LET Schedule

If we ignore Majors and a group of early-year Australian events, where I assume the ALPG threw the LET a co-sanction bone, this years schedule was: South Africa, Morocco, Thailand, Scotland, France, Spain, India & Spain. That’s just 8 LET tournaments, including Scotland boosted by LPGA support.

Note: in compiling this sad and skinny listing I’m ignoring the European Tour’s silly Golf Sixes where a bit of opportunity exists for a limited number of LET girls.

If we skip back a few years to 2014, the equivalent LET tournament schedule consisted of 16 tournaments. How many of those were played in mainland Europe, that LET home turf? There were eleven. Yes there were 11 in Europe compared to 4 in 2018!

An epic failure in its own backyard? Yes.

Insanity

When I say that’s a lot of lost events, I mean LET lost half its own tournaments in 4 yrs! Can you envisage LPGA Tour slipping from 32 to 16 tournaments over a 4 year period?

In this ‘madness’ context, I can’t resist mentioning the LET’s introduction of a QSchool pre-qualifier in Cambodia, late in 2016. Yes, Cambodia, that epicentre of asian golf! To my simple mind that looked about as insane as the OneAsia Tour holding dual QSchool qualifiers in USA for a few years before it disappeared.

Incidentally, that 2016 Cambodian qualifier drew 11 players and a few of the scores could have been bettered by blind golfers using broomsticks! Anyway, 2017 went ahead and 7 players competed. 2018 in Siem Reap drew 9 players. Draw your own conclusions.

Help?

Help appeared on the horizon during 2017 in the form of LET discussions with the LPGA & European Tour senior execs. The latter subsequently launched its incorrectly and grandiosely-named European Golf Team Championships and sixteen 2-person LET teams were invited.

The LPGA engineered something tangible; an LPGA/LET co-sanction of the Ladies Scottish Open and a consequent trebling of prizemoney.

However, nothing else seems to have occurred subsequent to those discussions and LET members must be more worried than ever about their future livelihoods. They must also wonder if the LET is on the brink of bankruptcy, given that it seemingly has no assets other than its brand name.

Some millions of assistance money apparently was on the table from those other Tours but the LET would not accept the associated conditions. Maybe that was smart; maybe it was stupid; I don’t know.

It Starts at the Top

Having been a Board Member & CEO myself, of both larger and smaller organisations than LET, I fully understand the pressures and frustrations inherent in the role. I also know that as CEO I will take credit for successes because I know I will inevitably take the blame for failures – whether my fault or not.

I also understand that if those failures are public or threatening to the viability of the organisation then I will lose my job. And rightly so; the rewards for success are large and, rightly, the consequences of failure must be severe.

I know the LET, technically, is not a business in the conventional sense, being a company limited by guarantee, but it exists primarily to provide prizemoney for its members instead of profit for shareholders – so the commercial imperatives are the same: form alliances and partnerships, get sponsors on board, etc. Host tournaments; produce prize money.

Money

Referring to the 2018 LET Money List and with the aspiring, non-superstar, girls very much in mind:

  •  #50 Astrid Vayson De Pradenne earned EUR25,885;
  • #100 Stephanie Na earned EUR10.546.

The equivalent-rank earnings on the LPGA Tour for 2018 were:

  • #50 IK Kim EUR404,517;
  • #100 Brianna Do earned EUR99,424.

In percentage terms, therefore, #50 on the LET earned 6.4% of her LPGA equivalent while #100 earned 10.6% versus her opposite. It’s a large pay discrepancy.

For a direct Euro/USA comparison, lets look at the Mens’ European Tour versus the PGA Tour for the 2018 season just completed:

  • #50 PGA Tour  Brendan Steele EUR2,102,423;
  • #100 PGA Tour Harold Varner III EUR1,074,125.
  • #50 European Tour Wu Ashun EUR956,937
  • #100 European Tour Jacques Kruyswijk EUR391,933.

The percentages for the Euro’s versus their US counterparts were thus 45.5% for #50 and 36.5% for #100.

The yawning ‘failure gap’ between the two primary european tours is thus obvious. The big failure here is LET.

Just in case there’s some solace for the LET in only referencing Ladies’ tours, let’s look at Asia for 2018:

  • #50 on the KLPGA earned EUR111,014 (one event still to play);
  • #100 on the KLPGA earned EUR25,121;
  • #50 on the JLPGA earned EUR172,357;
  • #100 on the JLPGA earned EUR32,473.

No solace there for those unhappy LET girls.

It’s no wonder some Europeans are looking at the Symetra Tour as a potential escape from the litany of LET failures, a means of assisting them play 20+ tournaments a year and perhaps a more practical pathway to the LPGA.

But, what did the mid-tier girls earn on the Symetra Tour in 2018, where the tournament purses are on average half what a regular LET tournament offers?

  • #50 Symetra Tour EUR19,061
  • #100 Symetra Tour EUR6,521

No good, this is 30% less than their LET counterparts plus players need to relocate to North America and travel for 20+ weeks.

So, the only financial answer in terms of providing opportunity, incomes and career development for the Euro girls has to be for the LET to get its act together and at least restore the status quo that applied just a few short years ago.

I believe LET needs to:

  • Restore its Chinese partnerships and a consequent 4-5 tournaments late year;
  • Grow its Aussie / Asian / UAE / Sth African connections to supply at least 6 early-year tournaments and, most importantly;
  • Get its European house in order and host at least 14 tournaments in mainland Europe; especially in its 2 biggest failed markets: Great Britain and Scandinavia.

That’d be 24 tournaments, plus up to 5 Majors, in which the LET girls could compete.

Finally, on the topic of money, the European Seniors Tour recently signed a 10-year sponsorship deal with Staysure. That optic is round-bellied, older men compared with the LET’s: fit, taut, often physically attractive, young, sportswomen.

The primary viewing audience is middle-aged men. Do the math! Duh! There’ll be money out there, LET; go get it!

Back to Leadership

I’d like to make my point about leadership / stewardship via the words of Mark Lichtenhein, whose LET power and influence seem to have ascended at approximately the same rate at which the LET has declined.

By way of background, and the dates are significant in my humble opinion, Mark:

  • Was appointed an LET non-exec director in 2015;
  • Became Chairman of the LET Board in Dec 2016 and;
  • Had the role of acting CEO added from August 2017.

Jan 2018: Question. “Would you want to do it?” (Become CEO). Answer.”I’d love to do it if the board wanted me to do it.”

Mike’s comment: it’s been more than 15 months, Mark, so you are now actually the Chairman & CEO and have been for over a year! What have you achieved?

Jan 2018: “We want to get back to around 30 tournaments in the next five years.”

Mike’s comment: Reaching for the stars or star-gazing? Or just dreaming?

Jan 2018: “The whole digital revolution is really helping us.”

Mike’s comment: how has it helped?

Jan 2018: Question. “What is the mood like on tour?” Answer. “One of cautious optimism.”

Mike’s comment: who are these (blind?) optimists? You and a few Board members over a boozy lunch?

Jan 2018: “There is a lot to do particularly in Scandinavia which is where we seem to be struggling and I’ve not yet got to the bottom of this.”

Mike’s comment: The LET Player President, Helen Alfredsson, is Scandinavian! LET Director Sophie Gustafson, is Scandinavian! You’ve been Chairman for almost two years. How come you haven’t yet ‘got to the bottom of this’? Ffs!

Apr 2018: “There’s a fantastic tailwind behind women’s sport right now, more so than ever before.”

Mike’s comment: I think you may have missed that wind.

Apr 2018: “The back end of this year, from July to the end of the year is actually not too bad.”

Mike’s comment: really? It looks disastrous to me.

Apr 2018: “Obviously the board is encouraged by the steps we’ve been able to make.”

Mike’s comment: ‘the board’ would be you, right?

Thx for Jan 2018 quotes to National Club Golfer: https://www.nationalclubgolfer.com/news/ladies-european-tour-mark-lichtenhein/

Thx for April 2018 quotes to Golf365: https://www.golf365.com/features/golf365-exclusive-future-of-womens-professional-golf-europe/

In closing, let me just say this.

Most of this piece has been negative and we’re still awaiting a 2019 tournament schedule from the LET.

We ladies’ golf fans hope and pray that, despite losing the Vic Open to LPGA, the LET girls soon receive a 2019 schedule that features:

  • 1+ UAE tournament in January;
  • 4+ Aussie co-sanctioned tournaments in Feb;
  • 1+ South African tournaments in March;
  • 1+ Middle East tournaments in April;
  • A solid run of 14+ tournaments in Europe during May-October before;
  • 3+ Chinese tournaments to close out the year.

If only!

Cheers and good luck with all your golf involvement and especial good wishes for the future to all those fine European female golfers who are working part-time to supplement their incomes, not because of their own lack of golfing ability but because of the failure at the top-level of their tour organisation!

 

Copyright MJ Miller (Mike) 29 November 2018.