Speculation turned into fact Dec. 20 when it was decided that the LPGA’s annual stop in Nashville will be canceled.
Sources with the tournament confirmed that the 18-year-old event will not be played in 2007, citing a lack of a title sponsor. Those same sources also said they were unaware of the tournament’s future beyond that.
“Nashville has been a wonderful host community for the LPGA for 18 years and more recently, the Franklin American Mortgage Championship has showcased some of the LPGA’s top stars,” LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens said in a statement. “Given the lack of a title sponsor at this time, it is unlikely the LPGA will sanction an event in Nashville in April 2007. The Nashville community and the wonderful fans have been terrific throughout the years and the LPGA will look forward to returning to the Nashville market in the future.”
The cancellation comes less than a month after Franklin American Mortgage opted not to return as title sponsor following a three-year run. The company made clear its desire to remain involved with the event in a smaller role, with tournament officials hoping to secure a replacement at title sponsor. Neither the tournament’s organizers nor the LPGA were successful.
The Nashville event â€“ won by Cristie Kerr in 2006 â€“ was to be played April 19-22 with a $1.4 million purse, has already been removed from the tour’s online schedule. It’s the fifth tournament to fold during Carolyn Biven’s first year as LPGA commissioner, joining events in Las Vegas, Atlanta, Galloway Township, N.J., and Columbus, Ohio.
Three new events will debut next year, though the loss of the Nashville tournament leaves another hole in the spring portion of the LPGA schedule. Nothing has been locked down for the week of May 17-20, a date likely reserved for the Sybase Classic, which was based in New York but is in negotiations for a new venue in New Jersey.
While Commissioner Bivens actions had nothing to do with this tournament’s demise, it does re-inforce my strongly held belief that the LPGA needs to dump this woman. When you have many tournaments and sponsors in danger, you don’t antagonize or dump ones who still want to associate with your organization. The LPGA has to fire Bivens within the year, or the tour may not survive another ten years.
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