No one connected to the LPGA would deny that the more Americans win, the better it is for the popularity of women's golf in the United States.
The American golfers say they're aiming for the top.
Even foreign-born LPGA golfers acknowledge a dominant American player wouldn't be a bad thing.
Now all the LPGA needs is an American to step forward. There are plenty of talented, mostly 20-something candidates.
"In the end, we need American players to step and play (well)," said Stacy Lewis, one of three Americans to win this year on tour. "I think that's what's going to drive the ratings and get more people to follow and watch our events."
The $1.5 million ShopRite LPGA Classic begins this week with only two U.S. players in the top 10 of the Rolex World Rankings - No. 5 Cristie Kerr and No. 6 Lewis.
Yani Tseng of Taiwan is No. 1 in the world.
The LPGA is the most international of any golf tour. Six of the world's top 10 golfers are from different countries. Since the Rolex Rankings began in 2006, Kerr is the only American to hold the No. 1 spot. No American has ever finished the year at No. 1.
The LPGA embraces its diversity as a strength. The tour after struggling from 2008-10 is on the upswing. Television viewership of domestic tournaments was up 40 percent in 2011, according to the LPGA. That figure is up another 12 percent this year, the LPGA said.
But if an American were to challenge Tseng for the No. 1 spot it would almost certainly boost the tour's profile in the U.S.
The success or lack of success of the American players seems to be talking point No. 1 at every domestic LPGA event.
"We get asked that question every week," 2011 ShopRite winner Brittany Lincicome said. " 'When are the American players going to step up?' "
The topic even grabs the attention of non-U.S. players.
"I think it's important for us to establish a great foundation here in the U.S.," said Suzann Pettersen, who is ranked No. 3 in the world and is from Norway. "The U.S. is kind of where we have our base and where we play most of the summer. We have a lot of great American girls coming up, and I think we need that here."
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said he'd be happy if five of the top-15 players are Americans.
The LPGA has that now with Kerr, Lewis, No. 12 Lincicome, No. 13 Paula Creamer, and No. 15 Angela Stanford (the 2003 Classic champion).
Other notable Americans include No. 20 Morgan Pressel, No. 25 Lexi Thompson and No. 31 Michelle Wie.
"The good news is we've got Americans in the chase pack," Whan said.
Kerr and Stanford are both 34 - an age when golfers are usually at their peak.
The best thing about the rest of the Americans is their youth.
Pressel, 24, Wie, 22, and Creamer, 25, are all 25 or younger. Lincicome is 26 and Lewis 27.
Thompson, 17, and 19-year-old Jessica Korda, who won the Women's Australian Open in February, are still in their teens.
"Their best golf is all front of them," Whan said. "In terms of the American superstars, I don't know how good they'll be, but they're all about to find out in the next five years."
Golf, however, may be the toughest of all sports for one person to dominate. The winner of this week's Classic must shoot lower than 143 other competitors. Meanwhile, a tennis player needs to only beat five to seven opponents to win a tournament.
Sports can't be scripted. As much as young American golfers are hyped, they must produce results on the course.
"You can promote anything however you want," ShopRite Classic executive director Tim Erensen said, "but until that one player at that right moment does something really special. …"
The Classic begins a critical stretch for the LPGA. It is the first of five tournaments in six weeks. Two of those events - the Wegmans LPGA Championship from June 7-10 and the U.S. Women's Open from July 5-8 - are major championships.
If an American is going to break out in 2012, now is the time to do it.
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