SBD/August 14, 2014/Events and Attractions

Rochester Preparing For Big Weekend As Final Wegmans LPGA Championship Begins

Monroe Golf Club will allow fans free entry to watch Sunday's finish
The final Wegmans LPGA Championship began today at Monroe Golf Club in Rochester, and the local organizing body is "going to literally send this event out with a bang," according to Randall Mell of GOLFCHANNEL.com. A fireworks show is "planned after Sunday's trophy presentation," and at 4:00pm ET, the gates will "open to allow the community to come in for free to watch the championship's finish." There also is a "sweepstakes giveaway planned among the many activities, with iPads, 40-inch TVs and a $5,000 grand prize." Tournament co-Chair Jerry Stahl is "intent on making the most of this farewell." Stahl said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan "did what he had to do" in replacing the major tournament. Stahl: "He had an opportunity to raise the financial level of the event for the players and the LPGA. How can you deny them that? You can't. Sure, it will be emotional, no question, but we're going to do our best to have a fabulous event." The event after this week will become the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, put on by the PGA of America, and Mell wrote the new setup is "terrific move for the LPGA." Wegmans' commitment "was uncertain," and the women’s majors have "been a patchwork of championships over the years." Eight different events have been "considered women’s majors since 1972." Whan said, "We can’t be in a situation where we are tied to a major but looking for a new contract every three or four years"(GOLFCHANNEL.com, 8/13). In Buffalo, Jay Skurski noted KPMG is "making a heavy investment" in the tournament, "increasing the purse size" from $2.25M this year to $3.5M in '15. But "none of that" makes leaving "what has been traditionally one of the Tour’s most popular annual stops any easier" (BUFFALO NEWS, 8/13).

IT'S A MAN'S WORLD? Golf HOFer Marlene Hagge-Vossler said of the PGA of America running the new event, "The people who are getting upset about that, I don't understand. We are trying to further women's golf. The men can help that and they always could have." In Palm Springs, Larry Bohannan notes the change "may rub some LPGA supporters the wrong way, since the LPGA Championship dates to 1955 and the LPGA has never embraced having its tournaments run by any other association." In fact, a "fiercely independent streak in LPGA players dating to the organization's founding in 1950 has always caused the tour stars to bristle at being associated with the PGA Tour or other men's golf associations." But Hagge-Vossler said that she "never understood turning down help from people who understand the game." She said, "We needed, always did need and still need all the help we can get. We can learn from (the men's) mistakes. Why don't we do that?" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 8/13).

GOING OUT ON A HIGH NOTE: GOLFWEEK's Beth Ann Nichols noted there is an "odd mix of emotions swirling around Monroe Golf Club" this week. Players have "raved about the new venue," calling it "one of the best tracks on the LPGA’s schedule." The new course has "revitalized a staff that's preparing for the end," and it is "such a shame to tee it up here one time and then leave." Golfer Stacy Lewis said that the course was the "second-best venue of 2014, behind only Pinehurst No. 2, site of the U.S. Women's Open" (GOLFWEEK.com, 8/13). Lewis said of the course this week, "Everything about it just kind of screams it's a major. It just has a bigger feel to it" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 8/14).
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