With Contract Expiring, Kraft Won't Return As Title Sponsor Of LPGA Major In '15
Kraft "definitely won't be back" next year as title sponsor of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major championship of the LPGA season, but LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan remains "totally convinced" the tournament will continue in '15, according to Larry Bohannan of the Palm Springs DESERT SUN. Kraft’s five-year title sponsorship ends this year, but Whan and the LPGA "have always insisted the tournament will continue into the future." The event is "too valuable to the LPGA to lose just because of an expiring contract." Whan said that it "appears there won’t be any announcements" about a title sponsor before this year’s tournament April 3-6 at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course. He acknowledged that if there was "one mistake the LPGA has made, it was believing for too long that Kraft might decide to stay with the tournament" beyond '14. Whan admits that some companies "won’t be interested in sponsoring the event because of the limitations of having to be played" in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He said that the LPGA will "take over control of the tournament" at the conclusion of this year's event (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 3/12). Whan said, "This tournament is a critically important piece to our schedule, but it’s much more than that. It means something special to so many people, and we’re committed to doing whatever it takes to keep the championship where it belongs.” GOLF WEEK's Beth Ann Nichols noted former tournament winner Amy Alcott "plans to partner her business, Amy Alcott Golf, with a to-be-determined sports-marketing agency to find a potential sponsor and submit a bid with the LPGA" (GOLFWEEK.com, 3/12).
NOT THE SAME IF IT MOVES: Golf Channel’s Paige Mackenzie said if a sponsor comes on board to replace Kraft, but the company "wants to move it, it ceases to become the event that we know." Mackenzie: "It would just be another domestic major. ... I don’t think it would be good for the LPGA." She added, "Obviously you want a title sponsor no matter what, but I don’t think that is a goal of the LPGA. Their first priority is to keep it at Mission Hills, to keep it on this part of the schedule early in the year." It has long been rumored that Asia would be a likely destination for a major should one relocate, but Mackenzie said, "I don’t see this championship in the spring somehow ending up in Asia.” Mackenzie: “It would cease to be what we know as the former dinosaur that’s the Kraft Nabisco, the leap into the pond. ... It would feel like a replacement and I don’t think the LPGA wants to be replacing the Kraft Nabisco with another major in Asia” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 3/13).
THE RITE STUFF: GOLF DIGEST's Ron Sirak cited sources as saying that the LPGA has "reached a contract extension with Wakefern Food Corp., the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club and Eiger Marketing Group (EMG) to continue sponsorship of the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer" through '16. Wakefern's sponsorship of the event was "set to end after this year's tournament" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 3/12). This year marks Wakefern's 20th year as the event's title sponsor (LPGA).