Can a 6-handicap man beat an LPGA player?
*Editor's Note: In our first GolfDigest.com "He Said, She Said" feature, Golf Digest Senior Editor Stina Sternberg and Golf World Senior Equipment Editor E. Michael Johnson debate the depth of talent on the LPGA Tour. Sternberg, the editor of the Golf Digest Woman section online and in the magazine, says the tour is is strong from top to bottom. Johnson argues that while the tour's upper-echelon players are indeed remarkable, the talent level drops off considerably after that. In fact, Johnson, a 5.7 index who qualified for the 1984 U.S. Amateur, goes so far to say he could beat the LPGA's 100th-ranked player "once in a while" from 6,800 yards. To understand his reasoning, and to hear Sternberg's passionate counterpoint, read on: *
__STINA:__It's been an impressive week for women's golf. First Morgan Pressel shoots 63 from the back tees to set a new course record at Bayonne GC. Then Isabelle Beisiegel qualifies for the Canadian Tour. Then the girls kick the boys' butts in the first televised PowerPlay Golf event. I've said it before and I'll say it again: the LPGA players are much better than people think.
MIKE: Morgan Pressel is an amazing player and I'd pay good money to watch her tee it up at any time. But qualifying for the Canadian Tour? Among Beisiegel's four rounds were a pair of 75s and a 78. Nice going. Good job. Well done. PowerPlay Golf? You may as well be proud to win an event with windmills and a clown's mouth on the course. Here's the deal: While the top of the LPGA Tour is comprised of truly excellent players, the level of play drops off fairly significantly once you get to a certain point, and unlike the PGA Tour, No. 100 on the LPGA isn't really a threat most weeks. And that's a problem for the tour. People watch professionals play because they do things us mere mortals can't. I'm not so sure you can say that about the bottom half of the LPGA Tour.
STINA: I totally disagree. If you ask any of the fans that come out to watch an LPGA event, they'll tell you they're plenty impressed with all the players on that tour. And when you look at the stats, your argument doesn't hold water. There's less than a four-stroke difference in scoring average between the number 1 player in the scoring-average stats (Yani Tseng at 70.29) and the two currently tied at 99th (Mhairi McKay and Yoo Kyeong Kim at 74.25). Plus, the winners so far in the 2011 season include Sandra Gal, who was ranked 100th before winning the Kia Classic in March. There are several similar examples over the years (need I bring up Hilary Lunke?). The bottom half of the LPGA Tour has plenty of game.