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Published: Sunday, 8/12/2012

COMMENTARY

How about a break from the weather?

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE COLUMNIST

The 2012 Jamie Farr Toledo Classic could use a little break for today's final round.

No, we're not talking about the leaderboard.

That's set up for another Korean conflict, which is fine. That particular cream has been coming to the top for some while now, both at Highland Meadows and at other LPGA outposts.

I.K. Kim, one of four South Koreans tied for the lead after 54 holes, was asked who among them is best.

"Every week is different," she said, shrugging her shoulders.

Yes, it is what it is.

A few Americans in the fight might be nice, but that isn't the Farr's biggest issue.

Has anybody seen the sun lately?

A 20-something gentleman was at the course yesterday wearing a shiny yellow slicker. I hadn't seen a slicker since third grade. I haven't been in the third grade for, oh, about five decades.

It has been a miserable three days at Highland Meadows. Downright dreary, I'd say.

It is August. It is supposed to be hot and humid and sunscreen should be mandatory. It has instead been damp, windy, and chilly. The sky has been a steady diet of battleship gray. Rain has drizzled and misted almost constantly. The heavier stuff, thankfully, has come before and after rounds.

Crowds have been spotty. The party out at No. 14 during Friday's second round was a big hit. The Saturday gathering in the bleachers and skyboxes around No. 18 was decent. When Natalie Gulbis went from the ninth green to the 10th tee at 5-under there was a mini-stampede in her wake.

Otherwise, it has been pretty quiet at the Meadows.

Yes, the Farr Classic could use a break today.

It could use some sunshine, temperatures in the 80s. It could use shorts instead of slickers. It could use a big finish at the gate.

But will the leaderboard allow it?

There are two Americans in the mix at 8-under, three shots off the lead.

One is a rookie named Jacqui Concolino, a nice young lady from Florida seeking her best-ever finish, but not exactly a household name outside of, well, the Concolino household. The other is veteran Angela Stanford, a very good player who has had some indifferent results lately while closing in on the $7 million mark in career earnings.

Stanford feels any perceived backlash in the U.S. against international players, the Koreans in particular, and any adverse effect their success may be having on the LPGA is a creation of the media, and that the players rarely even think about it.

"I'm proud to be an American and I want to win," she said, before adding that one doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the other.

"This tour, to me, is a worldwide tour, and they're just other players out here. We're all just players. Honestly, I don't even think about it anymore.

"I think about wanting to win and I'm an American, but I do believe that the media plays it up a little bit more than the players. I think there's a mutual respect out here for everybody [regardless of] where they're from.

"I just see everybody as players. I don't think about them as Korean or Japanese or European."

The top seven spots on the board include six Koreans and Mika Miyazato of Japan.

That might keep crowds away in some cases and some places, but I don't think Toledo is one of them. Golf fans here have grown fond of five-time champion Se Ri Pak, the queen of Korean golf, and have shown up in large and supportive numbers in recent years when other Farr winners have included Pak's countrymen -- Mi Hyun Kim, Eunjung Yi, and Na Yeon Choi.

Yes, the Farr Classic could use a break today. But, no, the leaderboard isn't the problem.

It needs a break in the clouds, it needs sunglasses, it needs heat, it needs August golf weather. No more slickers.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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