SBD/Issue 204/Events & Attractions

Stepping Up To The Tee: Oakmont Set To Host U.S. Women's Open

 

U.S. Women's Open officials indicated that the tournament, which tees off today at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania, "will not match the scope and size" of the men's U.S. Open held at the course in '07, according to Tom Yerace of the VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH. Championship Dir Liz Leckemby said the USGA is "projecting an attendance of about 125,000 for the week," compared to about 275,000 for the '07 event. But U.S. Women's Open Managing Dir Tim Flaherty said that smaller crowds "do not diminish the significance of the event." Flaherty: "The women's U.S. Open is the biggest event and the most important event in women's golf." He added that "bringing it back to 'one of the finest courses in the country' indicates its importance to the USGA." Flaherty said that smaller crowds offer "some reward for those attending the event." He noted that the course layout in '07 "sometimes made it difficult to move around 50,000 people," but that "won't be a problem this week." Yerace noted while the "size of the crowds for the Women's Open will be different from the men's event, so will their makeup." There is "free admission for fans 17 and younger accompanied by a ticket-buying adult," and Leckemby said that "one paid adult can bring in as many as nine children" (VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH, 7/4). U.S. Women's Open Dir of Merchandise Joe Butz estimated that about 15-18% of fans during the tournament "would purchase some sort of memorabilia." He "declined to release financial projections, but a little bit of math shows sales could add up." Merchandise "will come from about 25 vendors," and Butz said that 99% of the goods "would carry the 2010 U.S. Women's Open logo and would not be available anywhere else" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 7/6).

Whan Needs Star To Emerge 
On LPGA Tour  

WIE WANT YOU! In Pittsburgh, Ralph Paulk wrote while LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan "copes with other pressing realities, including dwindling sponsorship dollars caused by the recession and a shrinking tournament schedule, he knows the LPGA Tour needs a quick fix, preferably another dominant golfer who jolts the ratings needle and generates fan interest." Michelle Wie "appears to be the new icon," as "no one stirs the crowd more or commands constant media attention and scrutiny" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 7/4). YAHOO SPORTS' Shane Bacon wrote while the LPGA "continues to produce great talents, it still is looking for that one superstar that will get the likes of 'Pardon the Interruption' talking about women's golf." It "appears Wie is that lady, and while she still is only 20, the expectations will continue to grow until she can take one of these down." While that "isn't very fair to Michelle (think about the PGA Tour stars in their mid-20s without a major title), it is the truth" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/6).

ON TOP OF THE WORLD: In Pittsburgh, Gerry Dulac noted there was a "time when concern existed about the lack of excitement and hype for the U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont Country Club," and "angst existed over the state of the LPGA Tour." But "just like that, along came Cristie Kerr and all that disappeared." Kerr is the "best thing to happen to Oakmont and the Women's Open ... because of the dominating manner in which she destroyed the field at the LPGA Championship" last month. Kerr "vaulted to No. 1 in the world rankings, the first time an American player has held that spot since the rankings were instituted in 2006," and her timing "couldn't be better." Dulac: "Not for the LPGA Tour. And not for Oakmont" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 7/4). Also in Pittsburgh, John Harris wrote it is a "great time to be a fan of women's golf," but there is "no one who can match the trifecta of [World Golf HOFer Nancy Lopez'] charisma, charm and ability." That "doesn't mean we should stop looking for the next Lopez." No matter "how much we want Michelle Wie to be The One, she isn't there yet." She "will have to wait her turn behind Kerr, who has become the face of women's golf" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 7/6).

TRANSITION DEFENSE: Whan concedes the LPGA is "transitioning, in part because it has become global." Whan: "There's nothing wrong with our product. We just need to have more people see it." The TRIBUNE-REVIEW's Paulk noted the LPGA's TV package "enables the tour to familiarize its players with fans," but "even a network package doesn't guarantee the LPGA will find suitable replacements for lost events." Whan is "confident the tournament numbers will increase, but luring major sponsors carries a higher degree of difficulty." Now he is "focusing on getting LPGA events in markets that lost tournaments, such as Hawaii and Florida" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 7/4).

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