Talking of outliers, Sophia Popov’s recent win was a fantastic story. But should the LPGA have granted her an exemption?
Sophia Popov‘s story is a real fairy tale and what an Open Championship win, the kind that youngsters will read in the newspaper and think, wow, that could be me one day. The opportunity to beat the best, when you’re not already one of them, I mean, these are the stories we love to tell, so let’s help rather than hinder them.
I think the LPGA should have granted her the opportunity to peg it up and give a full exemption on the LPGA Tour as a major champion. I understand what they were saying and they are potentially going to review it at the end of the season, and I hope they make an adjustment, because we should celebrate our major Championships and to win one puts you in a special calibre of player.
Golf seems to be enjoying a boom period at the moment. How can the sport continue to capitalise on this interest?
It’s one of the positives to have come out of a really challenging time around the world and we should be celebrating and showcasing it. Not just for the benefit to business, but for what golf can bring to people’s lives, especially with health so front of mind.
With manufacturers allowing the ball to go further and making it easier for people to play, it’s creating a lot more enjoyment and for a lot longer time as well. My dad, for example, who is in his mid-70s is enjoying hitting the ball further than he has done before.
Talking about distance, the debate goes on. Where do you stand?
People who have been around the sport for a long time generally don’t like seeing some of these iconic venues dwarfed and made irrelevant to a degree. I get it, but I still absolutely bask in what the guys can do from an athletic standpoint now.
It’s not just about the equipment. These guys train hard and we know more about the physics and science behind things; it’s not God-given talent or just down to the manufacturers.
Sure, some of the shots we’ve seen in the past don’t exist anymore, but you’ve got to see the bigger picture. Golf is not just tour players, it’s for everybody. The bigger picture is that it’s absolutely revolutionised the game for the amateur golfer and the majority of people who play the sport.
For that reason, I am into it. I really like the fact that golf has become more approachable, more user friendly and that people aren’t put off when they realise how hard it is to make that little egg fly.