LPGA Begins Season With Expanded Schedule, Positive Momentum
The '12 LPGA tour season gets under way this week with the Women's Australian Open, one of “four additional tournaments on the 2012 schedule that have helped nudge momentum in a favorable direction,” according to Doug Ferguson of the AP. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said, "It took a year to take us from negative momentum to positive momentum, and the next year to turn that positive momentum into success." Whan measures success by “a 39 percent increase in television viewers in the United States, and by 26 percent overall.” Ferguson reported the LPGA was “able to renew eight of the nine tournament contracts that ended in 2011.” There also “no longer are large gaps in the schedule," as the LPGA will “not go more than two weeks without playing.” Whan said that top-ranked player Yani Tseng is “appealing enough through sheer skill to carry the tour, though he doesn't think that will be the case.” The LPGA “goes all over the world now, and there are home stars on every continent.” Whan: "Yani is rewriting the record book, but the chase pack is interesting. I think we're almost past a single-player thing, at least on the LPGA. I think we're so much at a stage where there are regional stars." (AP, 2/6). GOLF WORLD’s Ron Sirak writes this season begins “with a bunch of compelling questions.” Sirak: “Will Yani Tseng build on her seven-win, two-major 2011 campaign? If so, who will run with her and challenge to be the best on tour? What is a reasonable expectation for Lexi Thompson? And will Mike Whan get the 30-event schedule he craves for 2013?” Thompson, who turns 17 on Friday, “doesn’t need to win for this year to be a success -- she just needs to safely keep her card.” Whan’s plan to get 30 tournaments -- which “seemed remote a year ago when he articulated it -- is now well in reach with the schedule climbing from 23 to 27 events this year and a 28th likely to be added before the end of the year” (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 2/6).