League Of Nations: LPGA Announces New U.S.-Based Match Play Event Beginning In '14
The LPGA Tour on Thursday announced the creation of the International Crown, a first-of-its-kind, biennial, global match play tournament in '14 that will feature teams from eight countries. The tournament will feature a four-day, match-play format with a total purse of $1.6M -- of which $100,000 will go to each member of the winning team. Each of the eight countries will be represented by four players. The tournament takes place July 21-27 at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. In '16, the tournament will be played at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill., host of the '09 Solheim Cup. The eight teams will be based on cumulative rankings of each country’s top four players at the conclusion of the '13 CME Group Titleholders. The four players from each country will be based rankings at a date to be determined. Prior to play on Saturday and Sunday, each team will turn in a sealed envelope with the name of one player who will represent their team if a playoff is necessary to break a tie the following day (LPGA). LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said, "We have a tour designed to identify the best player in the world. The Olympics will award the best female golfer and country. But we have nothing that addresses which country is building the best stable of women's golfers." The AP's Doug Ferguson noted as much as the Int'l Crown "has an Olympic flavor, it might be more closely related to the Solheim Cup." Whan said that the players would be "in uniforms of their country, free of corporate sponsorships." The LPGA "years ago had the Lexus Cup, which was designed for the players who couldn't compete in the Solheim Cup." It never "gained much traction, however, with Asia competing against the rest of the world." Whan "found it to be far more compelling to have players competing for their own country" (AP, 1/24).
OPEN WINDOW: ESPNW.com's Mechelle Voepel wrote the "reality is that women's golf has limited windows to attract the so-called 'average' sports spectator/viewer in the United States." A team event that "involves the concepts of national pride and patriotism? Well, as hokey and contrived as that can sometimes seem, it's definitely a hook." One that "women's golf needs" (ESPNW.com, 1/24). Whan said that several "factors went into bringing the event to Caves Valley -- the support by local fans and club members at the 2002 U.S. Senior Open, the prestige of a golf club that was once ranked in the top 100 in the U.S. by a number of golf publications and website, as well as the proximity to a number of major media markets." He added that he "is not concerned with the problems major golf events had in the Baltimore area in recent years, specifically the lack of consistent corporate and fan support." Caves Valley Chair Steve Fader said that the int'l aspect of the event "should make it an easier sell than other golf events that have not been able to draw corporate sponsorship in the Baltimore area" (Baltimore SUN, 1/25).