Editors' Blog
April 26, 2009

LPGA Woes

I'm surprised that there has not been more reaction to the announcement that Corning Glass will no longer sponsor the Corning Classic, making this year the last Corning event ever. The lack of reaction is one more element of a shrinking LPGA presence. We did get one irate letter, asking, essentially, what the hell's going on with the LPGA?

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Dear Golf World:>

When are you guys going to have the guts to ask Carolyn Bivens two questions that are CRYING OUT to be answered? >

that are not televised in the US?>

As far as I am concerned, Bivens should be fired for incompetence and lack of communication to LPGA fans. What is she doing?>

David Singletary>

Gilroy, CA>

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What's going on, David, is that the LPGA and its commissioner are going where the money is, overseas. The LPGA is now an international tour, and a much smaller one than it used to be.Editor Geoff Russell's reflections on his days covering the LPGA and the demise of the Corning Classic will give you insight to where the tour's come--and going. He shares your angst:

The president of the LPGA's Tournament Owners Association, Gail Graham (a former player), told [Golf Worl's Ron] Sirak, "Perhaps the tour has outgrown Corning, which is sad." I would feel a lot more confident about Graham's first point -- about the LPGA outgrowing Corning -- if there was another tournament in some big metropolis waiting to take its place. I suppose we won't know for sure about that until the 2010 LPGA schedule is released, but right now I'm skeptical. Since the start of the season, the LPGA has lost events in Hawaii and Orlando, and is dealing with serious title sponsor issues in Phoenix, Houston and at its premier event, the LPGA Championship. If you ask me, the LPGA isn't outgrowing events, it's hemorrhaging them.

You should also read Ron Sirak's analysis of recent events. Michelle Wie in Korea? Paula Creamer skipping Kingsmill to play a JLPGA event in Japan? There's a reason, says Sirak:

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The common thread that ties together those appearances by three global stars is money. All will receive appearance fees, a practice of paying players merely to show up that is common around the world but not allowed on the PGA Tour or the LPGA. Wie can still command six figures when playing abroad, Creamer will get $1 million to appear in Japan and Woods, of course, is the king at $3 million a pop. But is what's good for the players good for the tours? Do the tours need to get out in front of this globalization of the game?

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Sirak argues that the international tours ought to use these tough times to re-organize, recognizing the fact that old regionally-based schedules are antiquated.

If part of that reinvention is losing Corning, though, it's sad. A final look from stargazette.com is worth a read.

--Bob Carney