Portland LPGA Event Remains Sponsorless; Whan Discusses New Points Race
The LPGA event in Portland scheduled for late August "remains sponsor-less, subject to negotiations" with former sponsor Safeway and "other potential new backers," according to Steve Brandon of the PORTLAND TRIBUNE. Tournament Golf Foundation President Tom Maletis, whose group coordinates the event, said, "It's going to be an ongoing thing for the next eight weeks." Safeway has been on a "year-to-year basis as title sponsor." Maletis: "We're still talking to them and a number of other potential sponsors, new and existing." Brandon noted it would "seem that the LPGA has the know-how and momentum to make something happen, or to step in and guarantee that the Portland tournament comes off for a 43rd consecutive year." It would be a "serious black eye if the LPGA had to take Portland off the calendar," and it is hard to think LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan would "let that happen on his watch" (PORTLAND TRIBUNE, 1/14).
DOWN THE STRETCH: Whan yesterday discussed the new Race To The CME Globe on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive," and said there was discussion to have a multi-event playoff like the PGA Tour's FedExCup Playoffs. However, the challenge for the LPGA is "in the fall we tend to go over to Asia and play some events." Whan: "Typically, when the NFL schedule starts it's better for us and TV ratings and for sponsors to move around the world." He noted the Asian tournaments usually have "a lot of local sponsor invites" and turning those into playoff events "where we start reducing (tournament fields), we would have to get away from all of that." Whan: "I think we really would have reduced the emphasis of that tournament for that country." He said the idea was to "create something that had season-long interest," as well as creating something "that works for all of our sponsors." Whan said he hopes the new system creates "excitement for the U.S. media and the U.S. fan even when we're not playing" domestically late in the season ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 1/14). LPGA Tour CMO Jon Podany said of the new points race, "We've been talking about it internally for a while, but it really got going about a year ago in talks with the CME Group. It looked like it would start in 2015, but everything sort of came together (in November) at the CME Titleholders. Both parties were interested in starting it sooner. They really pushed us to do that." He notes several tour officials met with PGA Tour execs last month to discuss their experiences with the FedExCup Playoffs. Podany: "They told us what they had learned and what they might do differently. We took their feedback along with ours to come to where we're at now" (GOLF DIGEST STIX, 1/15 issue).