Women Players Are Golf’s Future, Offsetting Men’s Decline

(Bloomberg) — While headlines proclaim that golf is in decline, Mike Whan presides over a part of the game that is surging ahead.

“What’s cool is that there were 300,000 more females in the game of golf last year than the year before,” Whan, commissioner of the LPGA since 2010, told Sports Line colleague Erik Matuszewski. “Last year, 180,000 new young girls joined the game. There hasn’t been an increase like that in forever.”

The LPGA under Whan has seen an increase in tournaments, prize money, sponsors and television ratings, and part of the credit goes to shrewd scheduling — the LPGA takes a week off during the men’s Masters Tournament and U.S. Open, and showcases women’s golf in countries such as China, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan in October and November when football dominates in the U.S.
Playing three or four tournaments in a row and then taking a week off also has helped maintain the quality of fields — LPGA tournaments average more than 40 of the top 50 in the world rankings.

The U.S. PGA Tour can only dream of that kind of regular participation from its top players.

This Sunday marks four years since Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Knicks in a three-team deal that cost New York six players, three draft picks and cash.
The Knicks will host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to celebrate that anniversary, but Melo won’t be playing — he’s recovering from knee surgery that ended his season after 40 games, less than half the schedule.

Amare Stoudemire won’t be in a Knicks uniform, either. He was waived earlier this week, and now plays for the Dallas Mavericks.

The pairing of Anthony and Stoudemire had Knicks fans dreaming of championships powered by an All-Star frontcourt — at the time of the trade, Stoudemire was second in the National Basketball Association in scoring at 26.1 points per game and Anthony was sixth at 25.2.

The two $100 million forwards — Stoudemire was in the final season of a five-year, $100 million deal when the Knicks waived him, and Anthony signed a four-year extension before this season worth about $124 million — never meshed.

New York is on its third coach since the trade and has gone 151-160 during the regular season over that period. Sure, the Knicks made the playoffs the first three seasons with Anthony after missing the postseason six straight years. But they’ve won only one series and gone 7-14 in the playoffs since the trade; they missed the playoffs by one game last year, and are the frontrunners for the first pick in the draft with an NBA-worst record of 10-43 this year.

Perhaps it’s too early to give an answer on whether it was a good or bad trade for the Knicks. Maybe the 30-year-old Anthony will come back at full strength next season and club President Phil Jackson will revive the lineup with free agents and draft picks.

But for now, the Knicks have had little to show for their investment.

The laceheads convene in Indianapolis this week for the National Football League Scouting Combine. Amid all the breathless coverage over which college player can jump higher, let’s remember how difficult it is to predict performance in the National Football League.

Consider the numbers put up by someone we’ll call “Quarterback X:” He ran the 40-yard dash in 5.28 seconds and looked like a clumsy eighth-grader doing agility drills. He was so unimpressive that he was selected 199th in the draft. Three kickers and a punter were taken before him.
Quarterback X is Tom Brady.

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