Sports Outside the Beltway

When you’re hot and other LPGA Tour notes

Eunjung Yi made some LPGA history today at the Corning Classic.

Eunjung Yi of South Korea has made three eagles in her first five holes on the third round of the LPGA Corning Classic.

Yi eagled the par-4 first hole, the par-5 second hole and the par-5 fifth hole. She’s just the fifth player in LPGA history to accomplish the feat and only the 17th to post consecutive eagles.

Yi started Saturday at 4 under and tied for 59th. Her spree left her at 10 under and just four shots behind leader Karine Icher of France, who had yet to tee off.

Some LPGA related comments

1- Going into today’s third round, France’s Karine Icher had a two-shot lead over Hee Won Han. Han, a six-time winner on tour, is trying to win her first tournament since 2006. She won Corning in 2006, but her more recent victory was the 2006 LPGA Thailand.

Han was one of the most consistent LPGA players from 2003-06 when she finished between 4th and 9th every year on the money list. The reasons for her three-year absence from the winner’s circle is directly attributable to her having a baby boy in June 2007. She played less than a dozen events that year, and while she had a solid 2008, Han fell off to 19th on the money list. Herworst finish not counting 2007 since 2002.

2- Talking about motherhood, expectant Mom Mi Hyun ‘Peanut’ Kim opened today’s third round in a tie for 14th. Peanut sometime in the late summer or early fall will join Han as the only other South Korean Mom on tour.

Actually other than Han and Peanut, the only South Korean golfers I know that are married are Birdie Kim and Gloria Park.

3- Seon Hwa Lee is also tied for third and would be an appropriate winner for the last ever Corning Classic. Why would she be appropriate? Lee has won four LPGA events, three of them were never played again after Stone Buddha’s victory.

4- Randall Mell* at Golf Channel writes about how sponsors will lose money this year and future projections weren’t very good either -

That’s partly because the LPGA was asking more in negotiations over a new contract. This marks the last year of a four-year deal with the tournament declining to pick up the option for next year. The tournament’s board was negotiating a new deal through 2013 when it pulled the plug.

The cost of running this year’s Corning Classic will be about $3.7 million, Benjamin said. The tournament projects under a new four-year deal, those costs will average out to about $4.45 million annually, though Benjamin said it’s possible the LPGA would have made concessions to lower those costs.

The negotiations, however, never got that deep.

“The LPGA’s asking price didn’t help, but that wasn’t the reason for this decision,” Benjamin said. “We just can’t generate the revenue to keep this tournament the way it is. The economy’s taken a huge toll.”

Randall says you can’t point a derisive finger at the LPGA over its latest lost tournament but I disagree. The time to squeeze a sponsor isn’t when the economy is poor and your organization is having problems with retention. I think a tournament with a lower purse, is better than no tournament at all. Especially in light of the fact the LPGA has almost a dozen US tournaments right now in the last year of their contract.

Caddy blogger Larry has the following-

The details of the loss of The Corning Classic, if true, are troubling. More than one source states that the beloved Commissioner called for a pecuniary squeeze play and was thrown out at the plate. From what I understand, the Corning folks offered to maintain heir current contribution but noted that lessor sponsors were unable to do so. The event could still be held but at a reduced purse. This was rebuffed by the LPGA which demanded bumping the purse to 2.6 million and also called for the addition of more, and or better, scoreboards.

The LPGA version is that they tried everything possible to save the tournament.

After the SBS fiasco, with both sides offering contradictory stories on its demise, who do we believe? Weren’t we told by the LPGA that SBS couldn’t match the offer from J Golf? If you remember the interview with the CEO of SBS, he said the offer was never made. Does anyone see a pattern here? By the way, it didn’t take long for the PGA to pick them up as a sponsor in a long term deal for their opening event. I guess SBS had plenty of cash to spare after all.

One noted LPGA Hall of Fame member lamented recently, that if the players don’t take back the Tour within the next two years, it’s over. She is not the only one sharing that sentiment as more info comes to light about this week’s event.

Since the Shoprite fiasco, I been warning about the path LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens** has been taken. We’ve seen at least four tournaments go belly up because of how Ms. Bivens treated them in one fashion or another. The Hall of Famer is write, Bivens has to or the LPGA is sunk. I said for the first time almost three years ago.

5- Anything I wrote about who may win Corning this weekend is liable to be far off. Scoring has been extremely low today. Taiwan’s Yani Tseng and Vicki Hurst are ten under par for their rounds today and haven’t reached the clubhouse yet.

*- I’ve met Randall at the two LPGA tournaments I was a credentialed blogger for. He used to be a sports writer for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

**- Bivens does have some accomplishments as Commissioner, but the negatives are far too overwhelming to not say her time in the job has been a disaster for the tour.

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