Other Sports

Nobody asked me, but ...

By Drew Markol, Contributing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Maybe we can think up a new sport that we can get good at before the rest of the world catches up to us and then, predictably, passes us.

I've railed on this subject before, but we're running out of things we dominate in.

First, let's look at some of the positives.

We're really good at American football. Sure it helps that the other countries that are playing the game are relatively new at it, but we're still way ahead of the pack.

Basketball? Our men and women are the best. The world is catching up, but we still are No. 1.

And baseball? Well, I'll give us a slight edge, but Latin American players continue to crowd Major League rosters.

We swim well, too; and on the track we're tough.

But tennis? Forget it for both sexes.

Soccer? Our United States women are excellent. Our U.S. men though may end up watching the next World Cup in 2014 from their couches.

Golf? Our men are really good, but we keep losing the Ryder Cup with regularity. That's not a good sign.

Women's golf? Not good, either. And that's the crux of today's column.

Guess how many American women are in the latest top 10 rankings. If you guessed two, you'd be wrong and too optimistic.

The answer is one. Stacy Lewis at No. 3.

The top 20? Don't guess more than five because you'd go over.

The top 30 (I promise we'll stop with the rankings here)? The answer is seven. A measly seven.

What in the name of Nancy Lopez is going on here?

Unfortunately, there's more. Or less, depending on your take.

No American player has been the LPGA's leading money winner since 1993. That's two decades. And from 2000 to 2009, Americans won only nine of the 40 major championships.

What happened? Well, we all know what happened and we know when it happened.

It was in the summer of 1998 when 20-year-old South Korean Se Ri Pak won the U.S. Women's Open at Blackwolf Run.

And the way she did it, winning over Jenny Chuasiriporn in a marathon 20-hole playoff cemented Pak as a national hero.

More importantly for her country, Pak inspired an entire generation of young girls to take up the game.

Case in point: When Pak played at Blackwolf Run, there were only two other South Koreans in the entire field.

At last year's U.S. Open the field included 28 South Koreans and the tournament was back at Blackwolf Run.

Fittingly, South Korean Na Yeon Choi won, becoming the fifth player from her country to win women's golf's biggest even since Pak did it in 1998. Four of the last five U.S. Opens have been won by South Koreans.

There's more: Three of the last four LPGA Rookies of the Year are South Korean. The last American Rookie of the Year was Paula Creamer way back in 2005.

Maybe LPGA headquarters should move from Daytona Beach to Seoul.

But will this trend end any time soon? Not likely. When you listen to the stories from the LPGA Tour about the South Korean dominance one common theme emerges.

The South Korean players work and work and work and have almost a tunnel vision when it comes to golf. A tunnel vision many have had since they were children, children watching Pak do something thrilling.

Can the same be said of American girls and boys? Not when there are ballet lessons; and Boy Scouts; and baseball and softball games. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Variety is rarely a bad thing unless you're trying to be dominant. For South Korean girls and sports, there is golf.

The LPGA Tour opens its season on Thursday with the Australian Open. Maybe things will start to turn around for the U.S. women and we'll see more familiar names atop leader boards.

But that's a pretty big maybe.

Drew Markol has been a sports writer and columnist for several Philadelphia- area newspapers for over 25 years.

02/12 12:52:21 ET