Ron Sirak writes-
All indications are the LPGA will be down at least two tournaments in 2009, but with about one-third of its sponsor contracts (along with its TV deals with ESPN and Golf Channel) expiring after next season, and its sanctioning fees increasing as much as tenfold, insiders believe the real challenge for the women’s tour will be the 2010 schedule.
The Fields Open in Hawaii and the Ginn Tribute in South Carolina are gone for 2009. Safeway is out as the sponsor of the Phoenix tournament, choosing to focus on its event in Portland, Ore., instead, but sources say the LPGA will fund a Phoenix tournament. And the ADT Championship — the 32-player season-ending event with a $1 million first prize — won’t be played in 2009.
Tournament officials are pointing to a 2010 return, ideally as a February event to kick off the season, but so far lack a sponsor (ADT bows out after this year). The Stanford International Pro-Am will move from the Miami area to Houston (where Stanford is based) and become the new season-ending tournament, beginning next year.
That means the LPGA won’t even have a tournament left in South Florida. No more golf watching or blogging for me.
Good question- Why was the Stanford played in Aventura this year only to be moved after one year? Is there some golf real estate that needs to be sold in Houston?
Neither scheduling proposal is sitting well with a significant faction of players, who feel starting the year with a $1 million first prize will skew the chase for the money title and that ending the season with a tournament with a 120-player field is odd since only the top 80 on the money list retain cards for the next year (in other words, non-exempt players for 2010 will be in the 2009 field).
Some how I think the LPGA is still thinking out what these tournaments will and will not be. If the LPGA gets enough bad input from its players, they should make appropriate adjustments.
“The best-case and worst-case scenarios are that we will be plus or minus two or three events next year,” LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens told Golf World.
The best case is the loss of two to three tournaments. What is the worst?
“The next [few weeks are] a critical time.” Bivens said she expects the tour’s 2009 schedule will be released at this year’s ADT Championship, which begins Nov. 20. She warned, however, that “in this economy, until you have a signed contract, nothing is buttoned up.”
And in this economy, it is difficult to see adding tournaments. One addition for 2009 is a return of the stop in Thailand.
The tournament is just being resumed after a change of dates from the Fall to the Spring. I do agree with Sirak, the LPGA is unlikely to be adding any tournaments with the US economy as it stands now.
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