Merger Between LPGA, LET Seen As Positive Step For Both Tours
Ladies European Tour players on Tuesday voted to run their tour as a "50-50 joint business venture with the LPGA," as the tours will officially "combine to manage operations," according to Randall Mell of GOLFCHANNEL.com. The LET and LPGA boards had already "approved the venture," but LET players on Tuesday had "final authority to make the deal." LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan cautioned that the tour's stake in the business "would have limits." Whan: "All proceeds stay in Europe, can't take any dollars out. We can put money into the LET, but we can't take money back out, which I asked my board to support. I want to make sure the European Tour players know that this is not some American growth strategy." Mell noted the LET has been "struggling for the last four years, with tournaments and sponsorships falling away." The tour "featured just 15 tournaments last year," for roughly $14M in total purses. That is "up to 20 tournaments this year, with the tour just announcing Costa del Sol as sponsor of its Order of Merit competition" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 11/26).
MUSIC TO PLAYERS' EARS: Azahara Munoz, who has membership on both the LPGA and LET, said that it "almost sounded too good to be true." Munoz: "(Players) literally couldn't believe how good everything Mike was telling us. Pretty much there nothing to lose from us. Nothing." Munoz competes primarily on the LPGA, but said that she "wanted to see European players have more opportunities." Meghan MacLaren said that the excitement "runs deep among LET players." She said, "The LET has had a product with so much to give to the golf world, but it hasn't had the resources to show that. For the first time in a long time that has the opportunity to change" (GOLFWEEK.com, 11/26).