Wednesday, January 9, 2013

LPGA Gains Tiger Woods, Loses Jamie Farr

Good news and bad news for the LPGA Tour, although the bad news is really good news. Got it?

First, the good news that is good news: For the first time, the Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise from Electronic Arts will include an LPGA game mode. No, really, that's good news, and it's significant. The LPGA needs all the help it can get, and this game is hugely popular. Little girls and big girls alike can create female characters now and actually play LPGA tournaments, with the March availability of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14. And two more LPGA golfers are included in the game, bringing the total to five. Accept progress where you find it.

Now, the bad news, but bad news that is really good news: Jamie Farr is out. What for several decades has been the LPGA stop in Toledo, Ohio, under variations of the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic name, will, in 2013, drop not only Farr's name from the title, but Farr's involvement in the tournament altogether. That's bad news, but the reason it's also good news is that the tournament - which has been on shaky ground in recent years - has a spiffy new title sponsor in Marathon Petroleum.

So why is losing Farr bad news at all? I mean, it's not like Farr is any kind of star anymore, or has any kind of drawing power outside of his hometown of Toledo. The actor who played Klinger on M*A*S*H has faded from the public eye. It's been 30 years since M*A*S*H stopped taping (although it lives on in re-runs).

But losing Farr is like losing a piece of LPGA history. A connection to the tour's past. Farr is a) still alive; b) still enthusiastic.

Or at least he appeared to still be "B." Who knows? The official explanation of Farr's departure is that Farr has "pending show business concerns which may prevent me from hosting the tournament in the future." But, c'mon, that's a cover story. Farr hasn't had "pending show business concerns" since the '80s.

Maybe Farr is tired and wants to take it easy (he's 78 years old, after all). Maybe the Jamie Farr celebrity has waned even in Toledo. Maybe Farr still has an ego and didn't want to be part of the tournament if his name wasn't in the title. Maybe the new title sponsor didn't want a celebrity host stealing attention from its own name in the title and on-site officials. Maybe it was just time to retire.

All idle speculation, possibly none of which is true.

I, for one, will miss Jamie Farr at the Toledo LPGA stop this year. And whatever the reason for Farr's departure, Godspeed Maxwell Q. Klinger.

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