A couple of months back the sister and I were watching some women’s golf on the telly when Celine Boutier, one of France’s finest, appeared on the screen. “France’s greatest-ever female golfer,” the commentator intoned. We both bristled.
“What about Catherine Lacoste? Marie-Laure de Lorenzi? Patricia Meunier Lebouc?” Splutter, splutter, splutter, as we went on to name dozens of wonderful, French players.The commentator undoubtedly knew that the great Lacoste is the only amateur to have won the US Open – that happened way back in 1967 when she was a wire-to-wire winner but I’m pretty sure Marie-Laure, the only player I know apart from Vijay Singh who had nine professional wins in a season*, had passed him by (particularly as he struggled with the pronunciation of her name). Patricia’s name is more easily found, featuring as it does in the Ladies’ Professional Golfers’ Association (LPGA) archive as the 2003 winner of one of their majors, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. When I recounted this to a non-golfing friend she retorted that the commentator hadn’t done his research – and that brings me to my point. Where would the commentator have done this research? The archive on the Ladies’ European Tour (LET) website is a long, factual list of tournament winners, scoring records, money earned and suchlike. Unfortunately there’s not a biographical link to these great players from the early days of the tour, no lists of their own achievements, their background or their considerable impact on women’s golf in particular and women’s sport in general.
Perhaps said commentator could turn to the reliably unreliable Wikipedia? I wouldn’t bother. There have been many times I have been introduced at a speaking engagement by someone who has diligently researched Wikipedia. I haven’t even recognised myself! You may read some interesting stuff but factual…? Don’t count on it.
It grieves me no end that user-friendly, biographical archive from the early days of the LET has not been corralled and brought together under one umbrella. Very soon all those with the knowledge, the contacts and the records will have died off and valuable info will be lost for ever. It’s a shame the LET has been so short-sighted in not commissioning the bringing together of a body of work that underpins all that they strive to achieve today. In my opinion, it’s important to document, acknowledge and honour the past and those who were so pivotal in creating the present and the future. We need, and deserve, more than just pages of lists.
Act now before it really is too late.
After the exertions of Open Championship week at Hoylake I had plenty of time to relax and view the fourth of the women’s five majors, namely the Amundi Evian Championship and it was truly thrilling to witness the aforementioned Celine Boutier claim her first major title – and on home soil, to boot.Unless you are American there aren’t too many opportunities to accomplish this feat, bearing in mind that of the nine majors played across the men’s and women’s tours six of them are played in the States.
Think back to Shane Lowry winning the 2019 Open in Royal Portrush; Georgia Hall coming out top in the Women’s Open at Lytham in 2018; Karen Stupples beating all-comers in the same championship at Sunningdale in 2004; Paul Lawrie hoisting the Claret Jug at Carnoustie in 1999 and Tony Jacklin triumphing at Lytham in the Open of 1969. By my reckoning, with Celine joining this list, that makes only six non-American players in the last 54 years who have enjoyed the ultimate of winning a major in front of their countrymen. Oh, to be a member of that super-select club!
Thank goodness Celine’s friends ran on to the green to celebrate this epic win spraying her with honest-to-goodness champagne and not a certain beverage named after the venue. Special feats deserve proper celebrations as the picture at the top of the blog shows.
Showers of another kind were pre-eminent at Royal Porthcawl where Alex Cejka managed to survive the onslaught from the weather gods as well as the spirited last-minute attack on the Senior Open title by Padraig Harrington. Brutal would be a fair description of the conditions faced by all the players and I’m sure the last thing the final pair needed was an excursion into extra time.Huge kudos to all involved in running this championship and seeing it safely to its conclusion. I accused my friend, Pam Chugg, who was refereeing the final match on Sunday, of constantly walking across in front of the camera to get more air time on telly. She somewhat put me in my place when she tartly pointed out that conditions were so bad she couldn’t even SEE where the cameras were! That told me off – sitting in my comfortable chair at home, with a glass of something nice at my elbow!
There’s no golf for me on the horizon just yet but spirits were lifted by numerous emails heralding the arrival of my Ryder Cup tickets for Rome. Not valid if they are printed off, you are required to add them to your wallet on your phone. I’ve been successful with mine – the weekend will be for sorting out the sister’s.
No doubt we’ll be watching some of the women’s golf from Scotland together and I have a suspicion we will find we have toned down our bristling if the commentators declare that Celine Boutier is “France’s greatest-ever female golfer”. Last week saw to that.
Vive la France!
[*Don’t forget Nancy Lopez? – ed]