SBJ/20090921/This Week's News

LPGA wants to unite events for global series

The LPGA is trying to secure a group of events to be part of a global series starting in 2011 that would be comparable to the World Golf Championship events on the PGA Tour.

LPGA officials have worked on the plan for the last year, but progress has stalled while they try to sign up participating events and sponsors, and, at the same time, search for someone to fill the commissioner’s job full time.

Industry sources said the series would consist of three or four prominent tournaments from among the international and domestic tournaments that have a perceived level of importance above that of a weekly LPGA tournament.

The LPGA has discussed the series with the organizers of the Evian Masters in France and the CN Canadian Women’s Open, but neither has formally committed to be a part of it, sources said. Each tournament has grown in stature in recent years, but neither has succeeded in its quest to become a major tournament.

Sources said the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore, which is not under contract for 2010, has also been targeted by the LPGA. HSBC also title sponsors one of the World Golf Championship events on the PGA Tour.

The LPGA has  discussed the proposal with other events, tournament sources said.

In a statement, the LPGA said, “We are open to new ideas and regularly present tournaments with options on how they can enhance their events.” The tour declined to comment further.

Coverage of the series presumably would air on Golf Channel under the LPGA’s new exclusive cable deal that starts next year, but weekend coverage could be sold to network television if title sponsors opted to incur the additional time and production expenses.

The concept is similar to the PGA Tour’s World Golf Championship events created in 1999. The four tournaments attract some of the top player fields in golf competing for the highest purses outside The Players Championship.

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