SBD/February 1, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

LPGA Getting Negative Feedback From Some Players About Founders Cup

Creamer (l), Kerr among LPGA golfers not yet committed to inaugural Founders Cup

The LPGA "has unveiled its early list of commitments" for the inaugural RR Donnelley Founders Cup charitable tournament from March 18-20, and the list is "notable for who isn't committed," according to Jeff Shain of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel and Suzann Pettersen have yet to say they will play in the event. That is "not to say some -- if not all -- may eventually put their names in the lineup," but a "couple haven't been shy in voicing their concerns about some of the details." The donation earmarked for LPGA-USGA Girls Golf is $500,000, but LPGA officials are "pointing out that sponsor RR Donnelley also is picking up some costs that usually go into the purse -- such as players' hotel rooms and caddie fees." Also, the winner's chosen charity "will receive $100,000." LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan: "RR Donnelley is paying full title sponsor money, including television costs, just like any other title sponsor would. In this case, we're able to use some of that money toward the operational costs of running the event" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 1/31). But Pressel said in a statement, "I feel that the event belittles all other events that donate similar numbers to charity and still provide a full purse." GOLF WORLD MONDAY's Bill Fields reported the LPGA "launched a counter-offensive, touting golfers who have committed to play ... and announcing a new wrinkle: In addition to the $500,000 the LPGA hopes to raise for LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, it will offer a $200,000 charitable purse for the top-five finishers to give to the charity of their choice" (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 1/31).

NEGATIVE FEEDBACK: SI's Jim Herre wrote of players' criticism of the Founders Cup, "My guess is that a mini-revolt is underway. Could be that Whan didn't think this one through. If any of you saw the memo he wrote to the players about the Founders Cup, you can tell he's getting a lot of negative blowback. He was backtracking like crazy." SI's Gary Van Sickle: "It's not as if the LPGA creates 70 or 80 millionaires a year like the PGA Tour does. If you don't finish top 50 on the money list on the LPGA, you're not exactly in a high tax bracket." But SI's Alan Shipnuck wrote the tournament is "going to happen, warts and all." Shipnuck: "It looks petty to skip it. It looks pathetic to issue a press release, like Pressel, to air your grievances." GOLF.com's Charlie Hanger: "It's a noble concept but so far poorly executed and a tough sell for the LPGA, where many do struggle to make a living" (GOLF.com, 1/31). ESPN.com's Jason Sobel wrote, "This isn't about how much money is being donated or how the process was implemented. It's about the LPGA players putting up a united front to grow the game and think ahead to the future. Without some of these top players, the efforts of the tour will be overshadowed by the absence of a chosen few. Those who don't like the idea or how it came about need to put aside their philosophical differences and support the LPGA at this event" (ESPN.com, 1/31).

TRES MARIAS CHAMPIONSHIP CANCELLED: GOLFWEEK's Beth Ann Baldry reported the LPGA has postponed the April 21-24 Tres Marias Championship until '12 "due to drug violence in the area" after the tour's security firm "deemed Morelia, Mexico, too risky." The tournament contract runs through '12, but an LPGA official said that the tour "would need to see a significant improvement before returning" (GOLFWEEK.com, 1/31). Golf Channel's Gary Williams called the postponement "another challenge for Michael Whan." Williams: "You think that the LPGA wants to lose an event? They want to add events. Here's the one big thing that is the most tangible. ... Now they're going to have a three-week gap between the Kraft Nabisco and the next event. That, to me, is very unfortunate. ... The best way to build your brand is to build momentum." But Golf Channel's Erik Kuselias said, "They can't protect their players, they can't have the event" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 2/1).

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