LPGA Gambling Endorsement
All Bets Are... On
This is an article from the April 30, 2001 issue
Paul Hornung, Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose, among others,
were banned from their sports for either gambling or consorting
with gamblers, but Laura Davies needn't worry. She has been given
permission by the LPGA to endorse an Internet gaming site.
Davies, who freely admits that she gambles on sports of all
kinds, asked LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw earlier this year if the
tour had any objections to her signing a one-year contract to
represent sportsbook.com, a Venezuela-based, Internet betting
parlor that offers wagering on LPGA events. Votaw decided that
because the LPGA has held tournaments in Atlantic City and Las
Vegas that were cosponsored by casinos, it would be hypocritical
for the tour not to let Davies represent a gaming concern. "I
don't have control of Laura," says Votaw. "She's an independent
contractor. All I can do is counsel her. Our tour has accepted
money from gambling establishments. My position is: If we've done
it, how can we ban it?"
Davies, who has been wearing the sportsbook.com logo on her
visor, shirt and bag since last month, says she asked for Votaw's
permission because of the stigma gambling carries in the U.S. In
Davies's homeland, England, betting on golf is legal and
ubiquitous. It is commonplace for players to bet on themselves
without a hint of impropriety. "It's all very open," says Davies,
"but I realize that here it's looked at much differently. There's
nothing sinister about it, and I haven't heard any criticism from
Davies was approached about the endorsement by Danny Fitz, a
former caddie on the LPGA tour who now does marketing for
sportsbook.com. "Most golfers gamble," says Fitz. "We were
looking to attract those people to our site, and Laura is a
Fitz says that before talking to Davies, he had offered a similar
deal to John Daly. Fitz says Daly was interested but was warned
off by PGA Tour officials. The Tour permits players to endorse
resorts that have casinos or gambling entities, but the player
can promote only the resort division of the company. Endorsing
operations that are exclusively for gambling, such as
sportsbook.com, is prohibited.
"The PGA Tour has a few more regulations than we do," says Votaw.
"It's concerned with the appearance of impropriety, though it
also has held tournaments at gambling establishments. But we are
not in the same financial position as the PGA Tour."
Hypothetically, an LPGA golfer could win a bet placed with
sportsbook.com by intentionally playing poorly. Each day during
the women's majors, the website offers wagers that it calls
matchups, in which a particular player is pitted against another.
One of the golfers in a matchup could place a bet on her opponent
and then shoot a high score to collect. "I don't know anyone who
would do that," says Davies, who adds that she doesn't have an
account with sportsbook.com and has no intention of opening one.
"Laura is a consummate professional," says Votaw, "but if she
were betting at a site, on herself or another player, that would
not be smiled upon by the LPGA. If she were betting against
herself, we have a regulation to cover that--conduct unbecoming a
professional. But that goes to the integrity of the competition.
That's different from an endorsement. I know other sports have
suffered insidious effects from gambling, but not women's golf.
If there's a problem, I might take a different attitude."
Meaning the same attitude as other sports commissioners'.
The Senior Tour is in trouble. From the plummeting television
ratings of its ill-conceived CNBC telecasts to sponsor fallout,
from Tom Watson's skipping a Senior major to Tiger shrinkage,
the signs are not good. Founded on nostalgia but now dominated
by low-profile grinders, the tour is caught in an excruciating
identity crisis. Senior golf will survive, but there's nothing
less attractive than a tired idea.
What do these players have in common?
They share the record for the longest winning streak (five) in
playoffs at Tour events. Nicklaus's career record in overtime is
13-10, Strange's 6-3 and Wall's 5-5.
Who is having the better season?
Annika Sorenstam 43%
Tiger Woods 57%
--Based on 4,003 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Would you like to see a tour-level event in which
both men and women compete? Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com.
Synonyms for: A rundown golf course
Brickyard, cow pasture, coyote ugly, dump, 18 browns, fire
hazard, future shopping center, goat track, goofy golf,
grass-abatement zone, ground under repair, hay field, only
missing the clown's mouth, parking lot, rat hole, rock pile.
Vijay Singh has earned $2.1 million in 11 starts this year but
has yet to win. If he goes winless in 2001, he'll very likely
break the Tour record for most money without a victory in a
year. Here are the players who have won the most without a win.
Davis Love III, 1999 23 $2.5M
Davis Love III, 2000 25 $2.3M
Chris Perry, 1999 31 $2.1M
Steve Flesch, 2000 32 $2.0M
Justin Leonard, 1999 28 $2.0M
Josie Shinn, Pinehurst, N.C.
Josie, 16, was named player of the year for the Nike
Winternational Junior Series, a tour that included 194 players
from 30 states. The series, which ran from November to March,
consisted of nine events at the Pinehurst Resort. Josie won a
series-record six tournaments by an average of 10.3 strokes.
Nick Watney, Dixon, Calif.
Watney, a sophomore at Fresno State, led the Bulldogs to their
first victory of the year, at the San Diego Invitational, by
taking his second title this season. He shot a school-record
54-hole score of 16-under 200 to prevail by nine strokes. His
71.10 scoring average is .60 of a stroke lower than the best
average in school history.
Rick Cloninger, Dacula, Ga.
Cloninger, 44, an executive with a construction-equipment rental
company, was victorious at the Pine Meadows Invitational in
Eustis, Fla., for the fourth time in nine years. In 2000
Cloninger was the Georgia Public Links titlist, and the year
before he was the state Amateur and Match Play champion as well
as the player of the year.
Submit Faces candidates to golfplus.cnnsi.com/faces.