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LPGA CHAMPIONSHIP BRINGS BACK MEMORIES OF WRIGHT INCIDENT
Published May 9, 1996
Ben Wright's controversial comments on lesbianism on the LPGA Tour from a year ago were a main topic at the McDonald's LPGA Championships. LPGA Commissioner Jim Ritts took on the subject directly in a news conference yesterday, citing the positive developments in the past years as proof that Wright was wrong. Ritts: "In its own way, it did turn out to be a positive, a rallying point for our players and it gave the outside world a chance to look at our tour. It took something as absurd as this. But something good came out of it" (Larry Dorman, N.Y. TIMES, 5/9). In Phila., Joe Juliano writes that Wright's comments became a "launching point" for the LPGA (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/9). WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Valerie Helmbreck, the reporter from the Wilmington (DE) News Journal who printed Wright's comments, decided to leave the area for the week of the tournament. Citing the flood of media requests she began receiving, Helmbreck said, "It wouldn't be fair to the LPGA. When the reporter is the story, the reporter is out of place." She said she and her husband will be in "a tiny hut on a beach in the Yucatan" ("Inside Golf," SI, 5/13). The N.Y. TIMES reports that Helmbreck is still considering legal action against CBS for defamation of character. As for Wright, CBS Sports President David Kenin reacted to comments earlier in the week by CBS Golf Producer Frank Chirkinian that he wants Wright back. Kenin: "Frank's position is not the position of the company. The fact of the matter is that there are no plans at this time to do anything with Ben on television" (Larry Dorman, N.Y. TIMES, 5/9). Kenin said he apologized to LPGA players last week on behalf of the network. Kenin: "I said we felt badly about what happened. ... It took away from the game of golf" (Leonard Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST, 5/9). Helmbreck, on CBS: "When I get an apology, I'll have a reaction" (USA TODAY, 5/9).