Sources: LPGA Finalizing Olympic-Style Event With Navistar As Presenting Sponsor
The LPGA is “feverishly formulating plans for its first Olympic-style competition to be staged in July at Rich Harvest Farms in suburban Chicago with Navistar in serious negotiations to become presenting sponsor,” according to sources cited by Randall Mell of GOLFCHANNEL.com. Though details for the new international team competition “are still being tweaked and agreements have yet to be signed,” sources said that the event is “far enough along that it was listed in a tentative 2012 schedule LPGA commissioner Mike Whan released to players last month.” Sources said that while “the name of the new event isn’t finalized," The International or The Continental Cup are "among considerations for what’s proposed as a biennial competition.” Sources added that the plan “most embraced by the LPGA calls for at least eight nations to compete with four-woman teams in an undetermined match-play style format.” The event “would not count as official, but unlike the Solheim Cup, the LPGA’s proposing a purse, believed to be $1 million or more.” Sources said that Navistar “would also continue to sponsor its full-field event in Prattville, Ala.” (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 10/31). ESPNW.com's Mick Elliott noted the idea “is an indication that Whan, in his second season as commissioner, and the LPGA are not sitting around waiting for an Occupy Golf movement to demand equal opportunity,” and they are “trying to do something.” Women's golf “has been in a slump, battling an indifferent fan base, and there's been little indication that a new spark would appear.” The “only alternative was to start banging rocks together” (ESPNW.com, 11/1).
CHANCE TO GROW THE GAME GLOBALLY: Golf Channel’s Erik Kuselias said the proposed event "could be quickly more popular than an event like the Solheim Cup that has great tradition and history, but only really has two teams." Kuselias: "If I’m Asian and I live in Asia, I don’t really care much about the Solheim Cup. You’re making it more inclusive, you’re making it more global, you’ve given me more teams, you’ve given this thing more juice. I really think there is no downside here.” Golf Channel's Gary Williams noted No. 1-ranked player Yani Tseng would play for Team Taiwan, whose "next highest ranked player" is ranked 89th. Williams: "They've got to round out a team of four. Norway (has) the second ranked player in the world. You know what their next ranked player is? Outside the top 100. Conceptually I like it. I love team competitions.” Kuselias: "The conceptual idea is that we'll have country verses country, and it’s not just two teams but eight, and you could have all the best players in the world playing on nationalistic pride against others playing for nationalistic pride. That's sexy to me and I like that” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 11/2).
GOLF ON THE WEST COAST: In California, Marc Figueroa noted the LPGA announced last week “the return of the Kia Classic to La Costa Resort and Spa in 2012,” and the tour will make “its return to the storied resort March 19-25 after a one-year absence.” Tournament Dir Dennis Baggett said, “My goal is to re-establish the LPGA and our event in North County and show people that this is our home. We want to be here for the long term. San Diego is a great market for us to be in." Kia Motors America has a sponsorship agreement with the LPGA “that runs through 2012” (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 11/2).