Recognizing the harsh economic realities of this year's events, and with an eye toward ongoing contract negations for next year, the LPGA has told players the purse for both the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge and the Navistar LPGA Classic will be reduced $200,000 this year. That trims the total prize money for the CVS at Blackhawk Country Club in Danville, Calif., on Sept. 24-27 to $1.1 million and for the Navistar at RTJ Golf Trail in Prattville, Ala., on Oct. 1-4 to $1.3 million.
According to a tour executive, players were in unanimous agreement with the move. The cut follows a reduction of the purse for the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic in Sylvania, Ohio, from $1.4 million this year to $1 million in 2010. That tournament also had an expired contract and agreed to re-sign for one year when the purse reduction was agreed to.
The LPGA, which started the 2008 season with 35 tournaments, will play 27 this year and currently has 16 under contract for 2010. Among those are the LPGA Championship and the Tour Championship, two top events neither of which have sponsors.
Carolyn Bivens' four-year run as commissioner ended in July after the Kapalua LPGA Classic in Hawaii pulled out of its scheduled date in October of this year. A handful of high-profile players wrote a letter to the Board of Directors expressing a lack of confidence in the Bivens. Soon after her departure a new event was added in Mexico and the Jamie Farr and the Wegmans LPGA near Rochester, N.Y. renewed contracts. The event in China, also scheduled for October, also dropped off the schedule.
Former LPGA Board member Rear Admiral Marty Evans is serving as acting commissioner and a search is on for a full-time replacement. The tour says it has no timetable for naming a new commissioner, but it makes sense the next person to fill that job will be at the Tour Championship Nov. 19-22 in Houston to unveil the 2010 schedule. Don't be surprised if that schedule includes more purse reductions.
-- Ron Sirak