More stories

  • in

    Even Pro Golfers Have Turned to Remote Learning

    With coaches and players forced to keep their distance because of the pandemic, perfecting the golf swing went virtual.It has been well over a year since Lucas Herbert, the Australian golfer who won the Irish Open last week and is playing in this week’s Scottish Open, hit balls in front of his swing coach, Dominic Azzopardi. The coronavirus pandemic has been the reason for their separation, but it has not stopped the work they do. More

  • in

    Nelly Korda Wins the Women’s P.G.A. Championship, and Her First Major

    After beginning the final round tied with her fellow American Lizette Salas at 15 under par, Korda pulled away and finished the tournament at 19 under.ATLANTA — As soon as Nelly Korda’s approach shot landed safely on the 18th green on Sunday, her older sister, Jessica, swooped in on their mother in the gallery and tugged on her arm, leading her to a spot behind the hole.Nelly Korda, who had spent the entirety of her 22 years known mostly as either her mother or father’s daughter or Jessica or her brother Sebastian’s sister, had stepped out of the shadows at last.Nelly Korda carded a four-under-par 68 at Atlanta Athletic Club’s Highlands Course for a three-stroke victory at the Women’s P.G.A. Championship over Lizette Salas, who closed with a 71. Korda, whose 72-hole total was a 19-under 269, is the first American woman to win a major since Angela Stanford at the 2018 Evian Championship. Giulia Molinaro (72) and Hyo Joo Kim (68) tied for third at 10 under for the tournament.“This is something that I’ve worked for since I was 14, since I played in my first one,” Nelly Korda said during the trophy presentation at the conclusion of her 26th major start. “I wanted to be a major champion.”The Kordas are an answer to a “Jeopardy!” question waiting to be written: “Who is the first family of sport?”The sisters’ father, Petr, won the Australian Open tennis title in 1998 and reached No. 2 in the world men’s singles rankings. Their mother, Regina Rajchrtova, was a top-30 tennis player who represented her native Czechoslovakia at the 1988 Summer Olympics.The sisters’ younger brother, Sebastian, 20, won his first ATP Tour event in Italy in May and is eligible for the U.S. Olympic men’s tennis team.Jessica Korda, 28, closed with a 71 to finish in a six-way tie for 15th at four under and secure a spot on the U.S. women’s Olympic golf squad. That team will be led by her sister, who matched her father in major victories and raised him one by ascending to the top of the women’s world rankings.Nelly Korda, who has six L.P.G.A. titles, including three this year, is the first American to hold the women’s No. 1 ranking since Stacy Lewis in 2014 and the first Korda to hold a No. 1 world ranking.“Really?” said Rajchrtova, who walked the first nine holes of Jessica’s round before peeling away to walk all 18 in Nelly’s gallery. “I didn’t know that but it’s nice. We wanted one. Now we have one.”After Nelly Korda’s par putt on No. 18 dropped, one piece of family business remained. Someone had to text Petr, who is at Wimbledon with Sebastian, to spread the good news. Rajchrtova said she couldn’t send updates to her husband during the round because she keeps her phone turned off and tucked away in her backpack.“I’m superstitious,” she said. “I don’t talk to anybody during round.”For Nelly, who became the first woman since Lydia Ko in 2016 to win a major the week after winning a regular tour event, it was a fabulous end to a month that started with a disappointing missed cut at the U.S. Women’s Open, won by Yuka Saso of the Philippines.The month has passed in a blur for Saso. After closing with a tournament-low 67 on Sunday to finish at three under par, Saso referred to herself as a 19-year-old, having forgotten that she turned 20 seven days prior.Since her U.S. Women’s Open victory at San Francisco’s Olympic Club, Saso learned that she is to be honored in the Philippines with her own postage stamp, never mind that she can’t remember the last time she wrote a letter.“I send emails,” Saso said, adding, “I always call or text my family.”Her birthday brought Saso, who has a Filipina mother and Japanese father, closer to a difficult decision. Saso, who lives in Tokyo, has dual citizenship, but by her 22nd birthday she has to choose whether to continue representing the Philippines, the country whose flag she’ll compete under at the Olympics, or drop her Filipino citizenship so she can maintain her Japanese passport.Will the Tokyo Olympics mark the last time that Saso represents the country that has stamped her as a national treasure?A noncommittal Saso said, “It’s going to be a tough choice.” She added, “Whatever I choose I’m both inside my heart.”Before the U.S. Women’s Open — and after her brother’s breakthrough victory — Nelly Korda joked, “I get referred to as Petr Korda’s daughter and Jessica Korda’s little sister, and now I’m going to be referred to as Sebastian Korda’s little sister.”On a sultry summer afternoon, after near misses in consecutive majors at the ANA Inspiration and a tie for third at this event in 2019, Nelly Korda played second fiddle to no one.She stood on the 18th green holding aloft the championship trophy, as had the male P.G.A. champions before her: Larry Nelson (1981), David Toms (2001) and Keegan Bradley (2011).Like Bradley in the final round 10 years ago, Nelly Korda eagled the par-5 12th (she also eagled the par-5 fifth and played the four par-5s in 11 under for the tournament). Like Jason Dufner in that same round, she stood on the 15th hole with a five-stroke lead and then promptly made double bogey.Unlike Dufner, who frittered away his lead in the last three holes of regulation and lost to Bradley in a playoff, Korda made par to write the latest chapter of history at a course on a street named after Bobby Jones, one of the most prominent men’s golfers. Her performance raises the profile of the women’s game sure as she raised the trophy.“A major championship and No. 1 in the world,” Nelly Korda said. “Is this week even real?” More

  • in

    Co-Leaders Lizette Salas and Nelly Korda Put on a Golf Clinic

    The Americans played together in the third round at the Women’s P.G.A. Championship and are tied at 15 under par heading into Sunday’s final round.ATLANTA — Lizette Salas, who is tied for the lead with Nelly Korda after 54 holes of the KPMG Women’s P.G.A. Championship, is not the same golfer who closed with a 79 from the final group of the 2013 ANA Inspiration, her first time contending deep into the weekend for a major title.That player brooded over imperfect shots and prayed that her ball stayed out of bunkers, so little confidence did she have in her sand shots. Fast forward eight years to the sixth hole Saturday at Atlanta Athletic Club’s Highlands course.After making birdies on four of her first five holes, Salas’s approach on the par-4 sixth bounced through the green and landed in a bunker. Salas strolled up to her ball, surveyed the 50 feet she had to negotiate to the pin, and smiled. Here was her chance, she thought, to cash in on all the hours she has spent hitting balls out of the sand during her practice sessions.Salas blasted out to three feet and made the putt. Though she would card six birdies on the front nine, the sixth hole par was her highlight.“You get this, like, tingle in your stomach when you pull off a shot that you’ve been working on for so long and you just have it perfectly pictured in your mind and somehow your body just knows what to do,” said Salas, who described it as her “best shot” of the day.“I gave myself props after that one,” she said, adding, “Just knowing that I could pull that off just gives me that momentum to be aggressive.”Despite consistently using longer clubs on her approaches than Korda, who bombs the ball, Salas wielded her putter like a magician to make Korda’s considerable advantage off the tee disappear. She one-putted 11 times to Korda’s five en route to a third consecutive five-under 67 and a 54-hole total of 15-under 201.“Lizette was rolling in some nice ones today,” Korda said, “and I told myself, I’ve got to hit it close to even keep up with her.”Korda chased her second-round 63, which tied the championship record, with a 68. Patty Tavatanakit of Thailand, who won the ANA Inspiration in April, carded a 65 and is at 10-under, five back.Salas, 31, and Korda, 22, who are both looking for their first major title, combined for nine birdies on the front nine.“It was a lot of fun, honestly,” said Korda who added, “I think when you get into that mind-set of kind of egging each other on, it’s fun, but it’s also nerve-racking. Your adrenaline definitely gets up there.”They appeared to be playing a different course than many of the others, including the seven-time major winner Inbee Park, who took 12 more strokes than Salas’s 30 on the front nine on her way to a 77.Nelly Korda and her caddie Jason McDede discussed her shot on No. 15.Adam Hagy/USA Today Sports, via ReutersSalas, who went 45 holes without a bogey, made her first with a 5 at the par-4 10th. She didn’t record a birdie on the back nine — and Korda made only one — as the water hazards on holes 11, 12, 15, 17 and 18 prompted each to put prudence ahead of pluck.“When I made that bogey, I just said, ‘It’s OK, there’s lots of golf left,’” Salas said. “I think before I would have chewed myself up in my head and said a lot of negative things.”On the par-5 18th, Korda had 224 yards to the hole for her second shot. It was a perfect 7-wood, she said, but she decided to lay up and settled for a par. Last week, her caddie, Jason McDede, said he would have advised her to go for the green in two without giving it a second thought.But not this week, with a major title hanging in the balance. “You tell yourself that there’s so much golf left that you can’t win on a Saturday but you can definitely lose it,” Korda said.Not all the hazards were on the course. Hinako Shibuno, the 2019 Women’s British Open winner from Japan, lost the services of her caddie, Keisuke Fujino, after he had a positive coronavirus test. Employing a club caddie who was summoned early Saturday morning, Shibuno carded a 76 that included a 10 on the par-3 17th after she put four balls in the water.Salas has one career L.P.G.A. title, the 2014 Kingsmill Championship. Korda has five career titles, including two this season and, after a victory last week, is bidding to become the first L.P.G.A. player to win a second consecutive major since Lydia Ko in 2016.The fans rallied around Salas, who spoke about her mental health struggles after her first round. They chanted her name as she walked the fairways, and she made a point of greeting some in return.“I was embracing it,” Salas said, adding, “It’s been awhile since I’ve done that.”She added, “Whatever happens tomorrow, I’m just proud of how much I’ve overcome so far.” More

  • in

    Women's PGA Championship: Nelly Korda and Michelle Wie West Have a Big Day

    On a day when Korda shot a record-tying nine-under-par 63 to take the lead at the Women’s P.G.A. Championship, Wie West made her first cut at a major since 2018.ATLANTA — Michelle Wie West has repeatedly expressed gratitude about returning to the L.P.G.A. Tour in 2021 after chronic wrist injuries sidelined her for the better part of two years. But that doesn’t mean she is satisfied simply teeing it up.Wie West, 31, does not regard this season as one long Brené Brown workshop on courage.When someone said to Wie West this week that it must be great to play unburdened by the expectations that she shouldered as a teenage phenom, her inner warrior heard someone essentially discounting her ability to compete for more titles.“I still carry the same expectations for myself,” said Wie West, whose career goals haven’t fundamentally changed since her 2019 marriage to Jonnie West or the arrival in 2020 of the couple’s first child, a daughter they named Makenna.She remains intent on regaining the form that carried her to five L.P.G.A. tour titles, including the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open. To that end, Wie West saw plenty to smile about on Friday at the KPMG Women’s P.G.A. Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.She carded a three-under-par 69 for a 36-hole total of two-over 146 to make her second consecutive cut; the first came at the L.P.G.A. stop at her home course in Daly City, Calif., this month. It was also the first time she had advanced to the weekend in a major since the Women’s P.G.A. Championship in 2018.Nelly Korda made six straight birdies at the end of her round for a nine-under 63 that tied the tournament record and moved her to the top of the leaderboard at 11 under. The first-round leader, Lizette Salas, finished the day one stroke behind Korda, and Céline Boutier of France shot an eight-under 64 that vaulted her into contention at seven under for the tournament.Maria Fassi of Mexico, at three over, just missed the cut, shooting a 77 that included a two-stroke penalty for slow play.With groups routinely waiting to hit at every hole, and with rounds taking upward of five and a half hours, Fassi was bewildered. Like the driver pulled over for speeding on the Florida Turnpike, she wondered: With so many culprits, why target her?“Pretty frustrating,” said Fassi, who added: “Every L.P.G.A. player will tell you that we know who the slow players are, and the rules officials know who they are. And I’m not one of them.”After her first-round 77, Wie West was woebegone.“I was definitely moping,” she said.Then she phoned home to California and spoke with her husband, who had stayed behind with their daughter. As Wie West described it, he delivered a pep talk with a jab. She said he told her to get her head out of her bottom, except he used a coarser word.“So I did,” Wie West said with a laugh.Starting on No. 1, she played the first seven holes in four under to climb back into the tournament.“That was the first time since a really long time where I felt like every hole looked like a birdie hole to me,” Wie West said. “So that was a lot of fun, and I’ll just kind of build on that mojo.”She negotiated the back nine of the Highlands course in 36 strokes, seven better than on Thursday, leading her to laugh and say, “Most improved on the back nine today.”The joy emanating from Wie West this week is in stark contrast to her tearful appearance at this event in 2019. Placing ice bags on her wrists between shots to numb the pain, Wie West shot consecutive rounds in the 80s to miss the cut.After her opening 12-over 84 back then, she was disconsolate about her playing future. Her surgically repaired right hand was not getting better, she said at the time, and there had been so many injuries before that — to her neck, back, hip, knee and ankle — that she had lost faith in her body’s ability to function.“I’m glad we’re not back at Hazeltine, because that would have brought up some memories,” Wie West said Tuesday at a pretournament news conference.Wie West said last year that childbirth had restored her faith in her body’s resilience. By surviving the cut Friday, Wie West erased the scars of Hazeltine.“Very proud of myself for pushing through,” she said, “and hopefully I can shoot low this weekend.”Erik S.Lesser/EPA, via ShutterstockWie West carried a crowd of spectators in her wake the first two days, including a woman on Friday who followed her while carrying a sign that read, “Michelle, I love you,” and was impossible for Wie West to miss.“It’s people like that that make me want to play golf and come back,” Wie West said.On the green at the par-5 18th, a baby in the gallery began to fuss, and Wie West immediately thought of her daughter and felt a huge jolt of guilt at being apart from her.“I felt myself tear up, and I was like, ‘Get yourself together,’” Wie West said.On this day, anyway, Wie West’s mind and body were in sync.“I know I’m on borrowed time,” Wie West said Tuesday. “I know that every shot matters to me more than anyone can ever imagine.” More

  • in

    At the P.G.A. Championship, Lizette Salas Finds Her Groove

    The leader after the opening round of the women’s major said talking about her anxiety had been more helpful than keeping it bottled up, and her game is starting to show it.ATLANTA — After an almost flawless opening round on Thursday at the KPMG Women’s P.G.A. Championship, Lizette Salas mentioned that she is reading “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.”The young adult novel, written by Erika L. Sánchez, reads like nonfiction to Salas. “I thought it was a biography of myself,” she said.Salas’s bogey-free round of five-under-par 67 at Atlanta Athletic Club’s Highlands Course was her lowest round ever in a major, and it looked effortless. But then Salas, 31, is so well practiced at performing like a well-oiled machine, no one would know of any issues under her hood.The California-born Salas, who was in the morning wave of players, led after the first round by one stroke over Charley Hull, who started in the afternoon. A stroke behind Hull was a group that included the Canadian Alena Sharp, whose seven one-putts, including a 39-footer for birdie on the penultimate hole of her round of 69, left her hopeful that she had conquered her recent putting yips.“I was feeling it a little bit last year, and then I didn’t really deal with it,” Sharp said. “I thought it would just go away.”But the putting woes persisted, prompting a frustrated Sharp to tear up on the greens at the first women’s major of the year, the ANA Inspiration.“My anxiety was so high at ANA,” said Sharp, who has focused the past two months on rooting herself in the present, instead of worrying about outcomes, by attuning her senses to birdsong and wind and the ground beneath her feet.Alena Sharp hit out of a bunker on No. 9 on Thursday. She bogeyed the par-4 hole.Erik S Lesser/EPA, via ShutterstockSalas said she had experienced anxiety and a general decrease in her mental health since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. During the L.P.G.A. tour’s five-month shutdown, Salas grappled with these existential questions: If she is not a professional golfer, what is she? What is her worth if she is not a Latina of influence on the sporting stage?“I really didn’t like myself in 2020,” said Salas, who added, “It was the accumulation of a lot of other things.”With Los Angeles-area golf courses closed because of coronavirus protocols, Salas settled in with her family. She spent two months home-schooling her nephew, who was in the second grade, and said nothing to her loved ones about her growing anxiety.Her silence, she said, was based on her belief that she had no reason to feel sorry for herself, not when she was surrounded by people who loved her and was succeeding in the career that she had set her sights on in high school.When the L.P.G.A. season resumed last July, Salas dismissed her heightened anxiety as nerves. But as the weeks wore on, she said, “It was so bad that the golf couldn’t help.”Salas made 10 of 12 cuts after the 2020 restart but never finished higher than a tie for 10th at the Women’s Australian Open that February, her lone prepandemic start of the season.“When I saw that I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, it ate me up,” Salas said.She added: “Instead of asking for help, I pretty much shut people out. That was not the right way to do it, and I acknowledge that.”Salas relocated to Dallas last year for a change of scenery, but the move was short-lived. She returned to Los Angeles, confided in her parents, trainer, coach and agent and found great comfort in discussing her mental health struggles.“I also learned when I can ask for help and when is it OK to be vulnerable and uncomfortable,” Salas said. “I just understand myself more, and I’m at a point where I like myself again, even when days aren’t as good as others.”Salas, a one-time L.P.G.A. tour winner, has two top-six showings in her past four starts. In her final tuneup for the Women’s P.G.A. Championship, she posted three sub-70 rounds to finish tied for sixth at the L.P.G.A. stop in Michigan last week.Upon arriving at the interview area on Thursday, the 5-foot-4 Salas waited as the microphone was lowered several inches. She laughed and noted, “It’s really not good for my confidence when they have to lower the microphone stand.”Salas had planned to speak about her mental health earlier in the year. “But I wasn’t ready,” she said, adding: “I’m not going to lie. I’m a little nervous even talking about it now, but it’s OK. And I’m in a much better place. Just happy to be here.” More

  • in

    Women’s P.G.A. Championship Is Last Chance for Olympic Berths

    This year, as in 2016, golf’s shallow roots in the Games are being exposed by the men’s limited interest. The women are a different story.ATLANTA — As the Olympic rosters for men’s golf were finalized on Tuesday, three top-12 invitees had respectfully sent their regrets. Joining the world No. 2, Dustin Johnson of the United States, who confirmed his decision in March, were the 11th-ranked Tyrrell Hatton of Britain and the 12th-ranked Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who finished second in the past two major tournaments. Oosthuizen said family commitments were partly responsible for his decision to bypass the Games, especially after his recent purchase of an 86-acre horse farm in Ocala, Fla.For Sophia Popov, family considerations explain an enthusiastic embrace of the chance to pursue a pandemic-delayed Olympic gold medal. Popov, 28, who holds dual American and German citizenship, has secured a spot in the 60-player competition, representing Germany and realizing a dream that, for different reasons, eluded her maternal grandmother, her mother and her older brother.“The Olympics is a huge deal for me,” Popov, the reigning Women’s British Open champion, said Wednesday.This year, as in 2016, golf’s shallow roots in the Olympics are being exposed by the men’s limited interest. The women are a different story, fiercely jockeying for spots in the field, which will be finalized after this week’s KPMG Women’s P.G.A. Championship. The top 15 players in the world are eligible for the Olympics, including up to four players from a single country. The rest of the field is filled according to the rankings, with a maximum of two players per nation.Because of the country caps, Popov, the 22nd-ranked player, is set for the Tokyo Games, while Ally Ewing, ranked 18th, is one of several Americans who could, with a victory this week at Atlanta Athletic Club, vault over the fourth U.S. player, Jessica Korda, who is ranked 13th, 10 spots behind her younger sister, Nelly. In between the Korda sisters are the Americans Danielle Kang at No. 6 and Lexi Thompson at No. 7.“It’s going to take good golf this week, but it would obviously be a huge honor,” said Ewing, 28, who won her second L.P.G.A. tour title last month. “I think one of the coolest things for me, aside from being an Olympian, would just be walking beside other Olympians like Allyson Felix and just people I’ve watched on TV for so many years.” Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Olympics will proceed in a severely stripped-down version, with limited crowds, no international fans and restricted movement between venues for athletes and other members of the Olympic contingent.“I think one of the big things is the experience of the Olympics and what I was able to do won’t be possible for guys this year,” said Rickie Fowler, who competed in the men’s event in 2016, when golf returned to the Games for the first time since 1904. Fowler, speaking Wednesday in a remote news conference from this week’s PGA Tour stop in Connecticut, added, “The Olympics in general are not going to be the same experience.”The women don’t care. They appreciate what the Olympics can deliver: the opportunity to compete in front of the largest global audience in sports.Shanshan Feng won the bronze medal four years ago.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images“I think it was a great chance for us to actually play on the same golf course as the men and just to show the world how good the ladies golfers are,” said Shanshan Feng, the 2016 bronze medalist from China.She added: “I think we should do everything that we can to support the game and ladies golf. I wouldn’t be surprised to see maybe most or even all of the ladies that get in go to Tokyo.”.css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}Three weeks after the Olympic men’s golf competition at Kasumigaseki Country Club, roughly 23 miles north of Tokyo, the PGA Tour is scheduled to begin its three-tournament postseason offering a $60 million overall purse. The L.P.G.A.’s total purse for the 2021 season was expected to be $76.5 million.“Those players can retire when they’re finished with their careers,” said Australia’s Hannah Green, the 2019 Women’s P.G.A. champion, referring to her PGA Tour counterparts. But on the L.P.G.A. circuit, she continued, most of the players will retire to motherhood or some other full-time occupation.“That perspective is probably changed, playing for money versus for a medal,” said Green, who added that she would exchange her major title for a gold medal.“I think because it is so rare to get a gold medal — once every four years,” said Green, who added, “I think everyone would notice, not just the golfing world.”Popov grew up loving the Olympics. Her mother, Claudia Schwarzer Popov, was a standout swimmer at Stanford whose Olympic dreams were sidetracked in 1980 because of the U.S.-led boycott, and again in 1984 because of an elbow injury.Claudia’s mother, Sabine Schwarzer, qualified for the United Team of Germany in the high jump at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. But because of an injury and a move to the United States to join her fiancé, she did not compete.Popov’s brother Nicholas, who competed for the University of Arizona, swam in the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials in the 50-meter freestyle but did not advance out of the preliminaries.“He was kind of bummed,” said Popov, adding that her brother traveled to London to watch and to cheer for his friends who did qualify.“The reason I didn’t become a swimmer,” Popov said, “is because of all that heartbreak. My mom was like, ‘I want to teach you guys how to swim, but I wouldn’t be mad if you didn’t become swimmers because it’s a very unrewarding sport.’”Barring unforeseen circumstances, Popov will finally compete in an Olympics, though her family will not travel to Tokyo to share in the experience with her. It’s small consolation, but her mother and brother have joked about getting an Olympic rings tattoo, the must-have status symbol for all qualifiers.They said they would have “brother” or “mother” written underneath the rings, Popov explained with a laugh. “I was like, you can do whatever you want.”She said their experiences had added to her motivation. “I have two other people to represent,” she said, “that I feel like could have been there in the past.” More

  • in

    Players of Asian Descent on the L.P.G.A. Tour Lift Silence on Racism and Sexism

    The Women’s P.G.A. Championship this week in Atlanta, just minutes from the fatal shootings of six Asian women this year, has surfaced fears and feelings about what it means to be Asian in the United States at a time of pervasive discrimination.ATLANTA — Players of Asian descent have won eight of the past 10 Women’s P.G.A. Championships, but there is nothing cookie cutter about the winners. They include Shanshan Feng of China, who has worn tailored cow pants to reflect her fun-loving personality, and Sung Hyun Park of South Korea, who had a Korean word on her bag that translated to “I am different.”More than five dozen Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are L.P.G.A. members, more than any league or tour in North American professional sports. Several other members have Asian roots, and their convergence on the Atlanta Athletic Club this week for the third major of the season throws into stark relief both their ascendancy and ancestry.The golf course is roughly 15 minutes from two of the three massage businesses where eight people, six of them Asian women, were fatally shot in March in a crime that encapsulates the escalating violence against Asians in America during the pandemic.The rise of anti-Asian hatred and bias has jolted the players out of their silence. For years, these women have endured microaggressions about their names, their appearance, even their success. At a time when Asians have been scapegoated in American communities for the spread of the coronavirus, players of Asian descent who show no fear on the golf course have grown uneasy, and outraged, enough that they are speaking out about what it means, and how it feels, to be Asian in the United States right now.A woman held a sign during a Community Rally Against Racial & Misogynistic Violence at Columbus Park in Manhattan in the spring.Jeenah Moon for The New York Times“I’m scared every time I see the news that it could happen to me,” said Yani Tseng, a two-time Women’s P.G.A. champion and the first player from Taiwan to become the world No. 1.Tseng, 32, was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2012, but in 2021 she feels helpless. Tseng, who said she fell in love with America during her first visit in 2007 because everyone “was so nice,” was incredulous when a friend who lives in Irvine, Calif., relayed a terrifying experience she had while seated in her car in a grocery store parking lot. A group of strangers approached her automobile and attempted to open its locked doors, pounding on the car with so much force the vehicle oscillated. After hearing that, Tseng, who has a residence in San Diego, about a 90-minute drive south of Irvine, said, “I was really worried about myself.”At home in Taiwan, her family also frets. “Every time they see the news they say, ‘Are you OK there?’” she said.The nine-time L.P.G.A. tour winner Na Yeon Choi, one of 25 L.P.G.A. members from South Korea, has traveled to events in America in the past accompanied by her mother. But she advised her not to bother coming to the United States for her tournaments this year, even if, or as, travel restrictions are loosened.“I was thinking it’s not safe for her to be alone when I’m focusing on practice,” Choi said. “She can’t speak English, so she’d be stuck in the hotel because I wouldn’t want her going out.”According to a national report released by Stop AAPI Hate, 6,603 incidents of anti-Asian violence, harassment and discrimination were reported to the organization in the previous 12 months ending March 31. Verbal harassment (65.2 percent), shunning (18.1 percent) and physical assault (12.6 percent) led the recorded incidents.Choi advised her mother to stay away from her American tournaments.Jim Wilson/The New York TimesAfter a white male gunman allegedly opened fire at the three Atlanta-area spas, the L.P.G.A. released a statement in support of the A.A.P.I. community and Choi received an internal email, which she said was sent to all the players, advising them to be careful when venturing outside the tour bubble at all tournaments.In March, Mike Whan, the departing L.P.G.A. commissioner, said there had been isolated incidents involving Asian players away from tournament venues over the years, including some in which the tour’s security detail had to get involved.The Covid-19 protocols in place during the past year have provided a protective membrane. Players have been prohibited from dining or socializing outside the tournament grounds or their accommodations. And tournaments have had few, if any, spectators. But their environments aren’t airtight, and pandemic protocols are easing, increasing interaction between the players and the public.The players find themselves distracted by worries about the safety of their loved ones — and of themselves.Mina Harigae, 31, a four-time California Women’s Amateur champion from Monterey whose parents are Japanese, said: “I’ll be honest. I got so scared I went online and bought a self-defense stick.”At the year’s first women’s major, which was held outside Palm Springs, Calif., Michelle Wie West said she ran an errand at a strip mall near the course, one of thousands of such pit stops she has made for one forgotten item or another during her nearly two decades of competing in L.P.G.A. events. This time, though, was different.“It was the first time I was truly afraid,” she said, adding, “We’re a target now, unfortunately.”Michelle Wie West felt fearful going out to run errands because of threat of violence against the asian community.Jim Wilson/The New York TimesLydia Ko, 24, a Korean-born New Zealander with 16 L.P.G.A. victories, including two majors, acknowledged at the Los Angeles tour stop in April that she worried about her mother traveling on her own in the United States.Tiffany Joh, a first-generation American, grew up in a nice neighborhood in San Diego. Her South Korean-born parents still live nearby. “It was kind of a sad day when my mom was like, ‘Should we start carrying around pepper spray?’” Joh said.Joh, 34, is easy to place on the golf course. Just follow the laughter. With one-liners as crisp as her iron shots, she spent two years grinding on what is now the Symetra circuit, where she often stayed with families to save money before she joined the L.P.G.A. Tour in 2011.At one stop, Joh recalled, her hosts remarked on her height, which is 5 feet 6 inches, and asked: “Are both your parents Oriental? Because you’re quite tall and built for an Oriental.”“I said, ‘No, I’m not a rug and I’m not a chicken salad, so no, I’m not Oriental,’” Joh said. “And then I was joking around because for me, when I have a sense of discomfort, my defense mechanism is humor. So I said, ‘You know, no one has ever told me my parents are my real parents. Maybe I need to talk to the milkman.’ And they said: ‘Oh, no, sweetie. That would be the soy milk man.’ They were trying to be cute.”Joh added, “It was kind of an example of how you can educate someone without being a jerk about it.”.css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-16ed7iq{width:100%;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;padding:10px 0;background-color:white;}.css-pmm6ed{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;}.css-pmm6ed > :not(:first-child){margin-left:5px;}.css-5gimkt{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:0.8125rem;font-weight:700;-webkit-letter-spacing:0.03em;-moz-letter-spacing:0.03em;-ms-letter-spacing:0.03em;letter-spacing:0.03em;text-transform:uppercase;color:#333;}.css-5gimkt:after{content:’Collapse’;}.css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-eb027h{max-height:5000px;-webkit-transition:max-height 0.5s ease;transition:max-height 0.5s ease;}.css-6mllg9{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;position:relative;opacity:0;}.css-6mllg9:before{content:”;background-image:linear-gradient(180deg,transparent,#ffffff);background-image:-webkit-linear-gradient(270deg,rgba(255,255,255,0),#ffffff);height:80px;width:100%;position:absolute;bottom:0px;pointer-events:none;}.css-1jiwgt1{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;margin-bottom:1.25rem;}.css-8o2i8v{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-8o2i8v p{margin-bottom:0;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-1rh1sk1{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-1rh1sk1 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-1rh1sk1 em{font-style:italic;}.css-1rh1sk1 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#ccd9e3;text-decoration-color:#ccd9e3;}.css-1rh1sk1 a:visited{color:#333;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#ccc;text-decoration-color:#ccc;}.css-1rh1sk1 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}Jane Park has also used humor to deflect uncomfortable situations. Despite having won the U.S. Women’s Amateur while in high school and been on the L.P.G.A. Tour since 2007, Park, an American of Korean descent, could tell from her amateur playing partners’ initial lack of enthusiasm that they thought she was another indistinguishable — in their eyes — Asian player at a pro-am in Arizona several years ago.Park sometimes uses humor to deal with uncomfortable situations.Jim Wilson/The New York TimesSo she decided to play a prank on them. At the first tee, she bowed formally and greeted them in Korean, then said nothing more for the rest of the hole. On the second hole, she asked in English if they were ready for beers, and her playing partners laughed and were animated for the rest of the round.But not every indignity can be dismissed with laughs. Park, 34, lives with her husband and 11-month-old daughter roughly five miles from one of the three massage businesses targeted. She described the spa shootings as “jarring.”They dredged up a memory from a few years ago, when she was waiting to pay for a pair of shoes at a nearby store. A woman behind her in line stage-whispered an anti-Asian pejorative directed at her. “My whole body started sweating,” said Park, who whirled around and said to the woman, “I understand English.”The shootings in Atlanta rattled Inbee Park of South Korea, a three-time Women’s P.G.A. champion and former world No. 1, whose aunt operates a dry-cleaning business not far from where they occurred. “I called her straight away to make sure she was OK,” she said, adding, “It’s really unfortunate what’s happening.”The rise in anti-Asian sentiment in American society has caused players to see experiences they’ve had on the golf course in a different light. Park wondered why broadcasters persisted in mispronouncing the names of Asian players even after she had corrected them on social media. Or why she was asked if she was related to “all the other Parks” on the tour.Christina Kim, a Californian of Korean descent, is tired of hearing that Asians “talk funny” and really tired of the added pressure that Asian-born players on the tour feel to speak the Queen’s English to avoid being mocked or criticized. She is tired of people on social media directing comments to her about the “kung flu.”Christina Kim has had racist comments in her social media feeds calling the coronavirus the “kung flu.”Jim Wilson/The New York TimesPlayers of Asian descent are weary of the many microaggressions that they must deflect, ignore or swallow because competitive golf at the highest level presents enough obstacles without having to also maneuver around race and gender-related hazards.Wie West, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open champion, said: “I look back at a lot of the questions that reporters ask me. ‘Why are the South Koreans so good?’ That question always bothered me, but I answered it. I’d say, ‘Oh, because they practice really hard’ and by saying that I was playing into the microaggression. I never really put two and two together as to why that question, and certain other comments, bothered me until this year.”The next person who asks Wie West the question will receive a different answer. She said, “I would say that’s a really inappropriate question.” More