Presidents Cup or not, LPGA would love opportunity to play in mixed-gender event
JERSEY CITY N.J. — The U.S. has lost only one of 13 Presidents Cups. And with Team USA on the brink of another lopsided win, there’s been chatter of adding women to the event to make the competition more competitive and entertaining.
Integrating the biennial event would certainly even out the teams, as 13 of the current Rolex Ranking’s top 20 players would be eligible for the International team (non-U.S. or Europe natives). In this year’s Presidents Cup, only three International players are ranked higher than the lowest-ranked U.S. player — Kevin Kisner, the world No. 25.
LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan told GolfChannel.com Friday at Liberty National Golf Club that the LPGA is interested in competing with the world’s top male players. However, mixing the Presidents Cup seems unlikely at the moment.
“We are always looking for opportunities to play with the men and get the very best women and the very best men together,” Samaan said. “Obviously, the Presidents Cup is a PGA Tour event, but we’re constantly maintaining a great relationship with (the PGA Tour) and constantly talking about opportunities, but nothing specific on the Presidents Cup.”
Samaan added: “We’re focused on playing together and integrating the two tours, without speculating on specific events, but we’re always interested in partnering with the (PGA Tour) and getting the men and women together.”
One player who has experience playing against the men is Michelle Wie West. The 32-year-old, who stepped away from the LPGA earlier this year, received a sponsor’s exemption into the Tour’s 2004 Sony Open in Hawaii, where she shot a second-round 68 — the lowest round by a female in a Tour event.
Playing together with the men in a team event, however, is something she and many other female players would like to see.
“As players, that’s something we’ve been talking about internally for years,” Wie West told GolfChannel.com. “We have such a strong international presence. We also have such a strong American presence. And with the success of our Solheim Cup, we’ve always wanted to bring the internationals as well and I think it would be so amazing if it was men’s and women’s.”
As the women’s game continues to grow, playing against those such as Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas would increase the LPGA’s exposure — and vice versa.
“I just think (playing with the men) it’s fun,” Wie West said. “When I used to live in (Jupiter, Florida), I used to hang out with the guys all the time and I learned a lot from them and we like the interaction and I think they really enjoy it as well. And I think the fans are kind of itching to see that as well and I think something as iconic as the Presidents Cup, if we can make that leap, I think it will be really beneficial for both the men’s tour and our tour.”