Luke Elvy: Who Dares to Compare?
The United States Golf Association’s decision to stage the Men’s & Women’s US Opens on consecutive weeks at the same venue was bold to say the least. It was a courageous move and one that gave us the chance to compare.
What it proved is there’s very little between the two games – except for distance. USGA’s executive director Mike Davis was very wary of this saying “we collected thousands on thousands of data and came to a 1,143-yard (1,045m) difference for the men and women.”
If you take Martin Kaymer’s astonishing runaway performance off the table, the proof is in black and white, as the two final leaderboards look fairly similar. In fact, if Davis’ data is as astute as it appears, Michelle Wie’s winning score would have claimed second overall, which is ironic given her teenage years were wasted trying to compete against men.
Yes, there are all sorts of other variables to consider like weather, course set-up and pressure, but from what we witnessed Pinehurst No.2 provided the perfect canvas to make this comparison. Women’s runner up Stacy Lewis said as much, “I don’t think it could be done anywhere else.”
But now the Battle of the Sexes has sort of happened, where to from here? Does golf go down the path of tennis and play its majors concurrently and for the same prize money? I doubt it.
Other than being a logistical nightmare, it provides a whole raft of issues. As Lewis pointed out, very few venues could cope with the double up. Tennis courts, with the exception of Wimbledon, are played on surfaces that can handle the traffic.
There’s also the distinct advantage of lights for night games and the ability to close the roof if it rains. In golf, there are a myriad of things to consider off course as well.
What this week has confirmed is the women’s game has come a long way. The depth of talent is very impressive and its stars are comparable to the fellas, with the exception of power.
But we already knew that, it’s the same reason why men run faster, jump higher and lift more. Nothing has changed since the start of mankind.
If anything is to come out of this historic US Open double, I hope it’s that regular women and girls, who for so long have been underserved in the sport of golf, feel they can get out there and play alongside the men, because off their tees they’re as good as, if not better, than us.
Before I go, isn’t it great to see Aaron Baddeley finding his mojo again. While he wasn’t able to win this week (it took a record-breaking seven straight birdies by Kevin Streelman to do it), Badds has proved in recent times he’s growing more confident with his game.
A switch to Mac O’Grady disciple, Grant Waite late last year has taken a while to bare fruit, but it appears he’s getting closer to when he was at his best under longtime coach Dale Lynch. His ball striking stats still aren’t much to speak of but he’s the best putter on tour and that should see him win again and soon.