The Loop

Meanwhile, in Daytona Beach

May 08, 2009

In addition to letters about "excessive" coverage of Tiger Woods (letters we expect to will multiply after today's Players coverage) another consistent theme is, "What about the LPGA?" We got this email yesterday:

Dear Editor, Okay, Golf World, congratulations on writing at least one article on the LPGA........about how well all the Americans are doing in a Solheim Cup year...............something we all know already. How about writing about things that we cannot get any information on? 1. What is Carolyn Blevins doing to get back the tournaments the LPGA has lost, besides not communicating with anyone? 2. Update on Paula Creamer's health. 3. Update on Grace Park's health. David Singletary Gilroy, CA

From Ron Sirak, who covers the LPGA:

__"As we said in Golf World, Paula had a wide series of biopsies the Wednesday of Masters week, all of which were negative. In short, they know what her problem isn't but not what it is. Grace Park continues to struggle with back problems, as she has since 2004. And the LPGA continues to struggle with its 2010 schedule. About one third of the tournaments have contracts that expire this year, something we have written about extensively. Corning is gone next year, as are both Ginn events and the Stanford Financial tournament. It is possible that more LPGA events will be played outside the US next year than in the US." __

It's not exactly fair to say that Commissioner Bivens has not communicated. She's certainly talked to us and Ron's take reflects that. Here's her spin on things, in an interview exchange with a Virginia website a few days ago:

__Q: What's your view of the general health of the LPGA Tour? Bivens: "The general health of the LPGA has never been in better shape. … We have the first-ever 10-year domestic television rights-fee deal, beginning next year. We have a consistent home. That's been something that the LPGA has desperately needed for a number of years. No. 2, we have an extremely strong new partner in J Golf, a South Korean rights partner that owns multiple platforms — digital, as well as multiple print and cable platforms. That allows us to build a fan base around the world and to reach more people than we've ever been able to reach." __

She did not completely sidestep the renewal issue:

"Is it difficult, and do we have a number of (tournament) renewals? Absolutely. If we could be renewing in a different time frame, we would sure have chosen that. We also had scheduled a number of these renewals to coincide with the new television deal. We didn't want tournaments to extend beyond not knowing what the new television partner with the platform would be."

It's apparent that the LPGA is going where the money is, and that's internationally. As Sirak and Golf World's editor Geoff Russell have asked, however, can it also afford to lose events that have examplified its close relationship with fans and host communities, such as Corning? Stay tuned.

Here's one more piece of LPGA coverage, along with a bit more Tiger coverage as well: While Tiger has gone 50 plus par 3s without recording a 2 (including four today), Lorena Ochoa, leading the tournament at Williamsburg today, has made 6 in the last 8 par 3s.

That's for you, Dave.

--Bob Carney