This weekend should have been a very good thing for the LPGA Tour. Instead, the Zurich Classic weather delay and unexpected prime-time audience for the end of the Volunteers of America Shootout was utterly squandered.
Cristie Kerr’s tortoise-like play and the inexplicable decision to play the same playoff hole over and over gave the tour a headache to pair with last month’s ANA Inspiration debacle.
Playing a tough, windy track, Cristie Kerr and Haru Nomura battled in an excruciating six-hole sudden-death playoff that was somewhere between the Bataan Death March and a paraplegic turtle crossing the road.
For plausibly logistical but heretofore unknown reasons, the LPGA had only one playoff hole: the 18th. Not only was the hole not a great birdie opportunity, and thus not great for a playoff, but the unreal monotony of seeing two golfers playing the same hole again and again didn’t make for compelling viewing.
— LPGA (@LPGA) May 1, 2017
Add to that the fact that Cristie Kerr seemed to making a deliberate effort to play golf as slowly as humanly possible (with many sounding the trumpet of gamesmanship), making most people wish they were watching paint dry.
And for golf fans who remember the 2012 Kingsmill Championship between Paula Creamer and Jiyai Shin, the playoff was a grim sequel. During that equally absurd playoff, Creamer and Shin played the same hole a ludicrous nine times.
Perhaps there’s another side to the coin, however, as For the Win’s Luke Kerr-Dineen writes:
“Before highlighting the criticism it’s worth noting that it’s easy to slam players for playing too slow. Cristie Kerr caught heat for it on Sunday after trying to run the clock during her six hole playoff against Haru Nomura, perhaps deservedly so, but it’s also an illustration of the mindset that has solidified her among the top of the women’s game.”
But while it may be true that the tactic has benefitted Kerr, it’s clearly not something fans enjoy watching. And as golf is ultimately entertainment, if the fans are pissed off, rather than entertained, that’s probably not the best thing.
Here’s a sampling of some of the ire from the Twitterverse.
@GCMorningDrive Why wasn’t Cristie Kerr put on clock? Painful and embarrassing to watch!
— gary delallo (@gdelallo) May 1, 2017
I will passionately root against Christie Kerr for rest of her career after this.
Miles past the point of being unsportswomanlike. Gross.
— Tron Carter (@TronCarterNLU) May 1, 2017
Feel bad for the LPGA. They got a bunch of extra eyeballs…and then Kerr slow-played the momentum with a monotonous drop. 😞
— Matt Ginella (@MattGinellaGC) April 30, 2017
Ultimately, the LPGA Tour was handed a gift, which could have been a great one. Instead, they very slowly wrapped, unwrapped, and rewrapped it until nobody even cared what was in the box.