Quantcast
StarBulletin.com

Time for new direction in LPGA


By

POSTED: Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Under pressure by the women golf tour's top stars, Carolyn Bivens has resigned as LPGA commissioner. Her exit is a positive move at trying to reverse the tour's dwindling schedule of events and bring it back to Hawaii.

Bivens made the decision after 15 tour members, including Lorena Ochoa, Christie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Se Ri Pak, presented the demand to the LPGA's board of directors. Bivens was believed to be negotiating a buyout from her contract, which was due to expire next year.

The LPGA tour consisted of 35 events in 2005 but has only 10 title contracts for 2010, having lost seven, including all three tournaments in Hawaii, in the past year alone. The major reason has been the downward economy, but Bivens had been unwilling to negotiate with sponsors on purse sizes and the cost of tournaments, asking them to contribute more to the cost of maintaining tournaments and rejecting their wishes to reduce the purse, which has averaged $1.77 million.

The Fields Corp., a Japanese entertainment company, ended its sponsorship of the Fields Open at Ko Olina at the end of last year's tournament. The Seoul Broadcasting System, South Korea's largest TV network, made this year's SBS Open at Turtle Bay its last.

The president of SBS was quoted as saying his company wanted nothing to do with the Turtle Bay tournament after the LPGA made a deal with a rival Korean television system to televise tour events and sponsor two tournaments on the mainland. Fortunately for Hawaii, SBS has agreed to a 10-year contract to replace Mercedes-Benz as sponsor of the PGA tour's season-opening event at Kapalua, featuring the men's champions from the previous year's tour.

;

The women's tour announced two weeks ago that the Kapalua LPGA Classic on Maui will not be played in October, as scheduled, because no sponsor has offered to replace ADT Security Services. The tour's leading players then decided to take action.

Bivens, a former advertising executive, has stumbled since her first year as LPGA commissioner. She talked about hoping to “;turn the buzz and the interest and the conversations into a commercial success,”; with a youth movement led by Creamer and Hawaii's Michelle Wie. Instead, she demanded at the 2006 Fields Open that media yield proprietary rights to their stories and photos to the LPGA, causing the Star-Bulletin and, most notably, the Associated Press to withdraw their reporters and photographers from the tournament.

Bivens caused more anger when she introduced a proposal that foreign-born players be proficient in English or face possible suspension. She dropped the proposal after severe criticism. Fewer than half of this past week's U.S. Women's Open players are Americans. More than 40 tour members are from South Korea, including Eun Hee Ji, who won the Open on Sunday and spoke to the media through a translator.