SBJ/20090727/This Week's News

Corning event considers return as pro-am

The organizers of the Corning Classic, the 31-year-old LPGA event not returning next season because of reduced sponsor support and rising costs, may revive the tournament in 2010 as a pro-am event unaffiliated with the women’s tour.

Jack Benjamin, president of the Corning Classic, said a decision likely would be made by the end of the year.

The Corning Classic is leaving the LPGA,
but may still play on under a new format.

While a handful of pro-am events now operate without the sanctioning of the LPGA, golf insiders believe the Corning Classic would be the first tournament to walk away from the LPGA and immediately start its own pro-am.

Benjamin said the decision to end the LPGA event was due to waning sponsorship dollars along with the increased cost of running an LPGA tournament, and the corresponding effect on the amount of charitable donations from tournament coffers.

In the last few years, Corning Classic organizers spent more than $3 million annually on purses, LPGA fees and event operations, and donated about $300,000 in profits to charity. Benjamin estimates the pro-am would cost less than $500,000 and generate up to $100,000 for charity.

“We would like to stay involved [in women’s golf] at some level, but the business model just doesn’t work for us anymore,” Benjamin said. “And it obviously doesn’t work for some other tournaments, too.”

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