Notebook: Life very tough for players not among elite group on LPGA Tour

Cristie Kerr
Getty Images
Cristie Kerr has succeeded on the LPGA Tour, but she is among those warning loudly about the difficulty of making a living chasing their dreams in golf.
By
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 | 6:56 p.m.

NAPLES, Fla. -- Inbee Park won the LPGA Tour money title on Sunday at the CME Group Titleholders, list and was the only player to crack $2 million. The LPGA had 11 players earn at least $1 million, up from eight players a year ago. But it's a different story toward the bottom.

The top 90 keep their cards, and the final spot went to Jee Young Lee, who earned $68,650. Compare that with Kevin Chappell, who got the last spot on the PGA Tour at No. 125 on the money list with $647,510. Tougher still is that the LPGA Tour has a number of limited-field events, particularly late in the year in Asia, that only takes the top players.

It's enough to make Cristie Kerr preach about the LPGA Tour not being the glamor life for everyone.

"It's hard for a lot of these girls. It really is," Kerr said. "If you're not one of the top players ... unless you're finishing in the top 20, it's really hard to make money. Expenses are high and purses aren't what they are on the PGA Tour. Somebody barely making the cut is losing money every week unless you stay in free housing and can get a free car. It's an expensive life."

Is there much incentive for women to chase their dreams on the LPGA Tour? Kerr isn't so sure.

"I love to win. I love to compete. And I'm good at it. I'm fortunate," Kerr said. "If you're 70th or 80th on the money list, it's not very motivating."

MOVING ON: Those who failed to make it out of the second stage of PGA Tour Q-School last week face an uncertain future if they don't have limited status as a past champion. That group includes Jamie Lovemark, who won the Nationwide Tour money title two years ago, and Hank Kuehne, who made double bogey on his last hole.

Past champions who failed to get through included a former Ryder Cup player (Chris Riley), two former Presidents Cup players (Carlos Franco and K.T. Kim), along with Cameron Beckman, Joe Durant, Jesper Parnevik and Chris Smith.

Among those moving to the final stage next week in California were Todd Hamilton, Robert Karlsson and Kevin Tway, the son of former PGA champion Bob Tway.

Perhaps the most intriguing was Si Kim of South Korea, the medalist at Bear Lake in California on the strength of a 61 in the second round.

TO THE BOOTH: Former PGA Champion Rich Beem failed to make it through the second stage of Q-School last week, leaving him only limited status as a past winner for what would appear to be limited room in a short season. So what's next for the Beemer?

Perhaps a move to the broadcast booth -- in Europe.

Beem said he has been contacted by Sky Sports to do commentary for PGA Tour events that are shown in Europe, similar to what Butch Harmon does at the majors and the World Golf Championships. He says his experience is limited, though the job would come naturally to him.

"I've got the gift of gab," Beem said. "I am full of a lot of things."

Beem worked for TNT Sports at the PGA Championship in 2010 at Whistling Straits, with two days for the 3-D coverage on the par-3 11th and par-3 17th, and then Saturday and Sunday covering the marquee group.

DIVOTS: Titleholders winner Na Yeon Choi has donated $30,000 to the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program to provide golf equipment to young girls starting out in the game. "I want to give the girls my message. Have a dream and achieve it," Choi said. ... Of the regular PGA Tour events, the AT&T National at Congressional played the most difficult. Tiger Woods, the winner, was among only 14 players to broke par and the course played an average of 2.046 strokes over par. ... The Players Championship raised $6.5 million for local charities, breaking its record of $5.9 million from last year. ... Five Americans won on the LPGA Tour this year, the most since 2008. ... Only three players in their 40s -- Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els -- won on the PGA Tour, the lowest number over the last 10 years. ... Gary Player will be co-host of the iGATE CEO Cup on Jan. 12-13 at the TPC Sawgrass. The tournament is inviting CEOs of Global 2000 companies to compete for a $100,000 purse, with all earnings going to their chosen charities.

(MOST PECULIAR) STAT OF THE WEEK: Phil Mickelson saved par nine times after hitting into the water, the most of anyone on the PGA Tour this year.

FINAL WORD: "Congratulations on a successful surgery." -- Stacy Lewis during her acceptance speech as LPGA player of the year, to Gary Brock, the doctor who inserted a steel rod and five screws in her back 10 years ago because of her scoliosis.