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SBD/9/Leagues Governing Bodies
PGA AND LPGA SET TO TEE-OFF; LPGA'S RITTS BOOSTS "MORE"
Published January 9, 1997
The PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour begin their respective seasons today with the PGA Tour's Mercedes Championship in Carlsbad, CA, and the LPGA's Chrysler-Plymouth Tournament of Champions in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For the LPGA, Commissioner Jim Ritts has called the upcoming season the "'More Tour.' As in more tournaments. More prize money. More television exposure. More fans. And, he is hoping, more momentum for the future," according to Jeff Babineau of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Ritts: "There is a buzz about what is going on [with the LPGA]. When you talk to corporate sponsors, when you talk to people on the telephone, they have a better sense of what we're doing." LPGA prize money has increased to $30.2M, "nearly double what it was as recently" as '90. The LPGA has created its own World Wide Web site at http://www.lpga.com, markets its own merchandising line and created a traveling LPGA Fan Village. Babineau notes, for '97, "priorities" include increasing TV exposure, establishing a developmental tour, and "continuing to export the LPGA around the world" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/9). USA TODAY's Jeff Blackwell writes the LPGA has signed a multi- year, multimillion-dollar deal with Target retail stores to be the sponsor of the Fan Village (USA TODAY, 1/9).