Thursday, July 9, 2009

U.S. LPGA merging with Asian LPGA?

As we head towards the British Open, which the Brits arrogantly refer to as The Open Championship (like we refer to baseball’s World Series), let’s take a look at what is going on in the golf world.

After his surprise win in the U.S. Open Lucas Glover is becoming “the guy who won’t go away.” I was willing to bet you that by the time Father’s Day 2010 rolled around, the most wrongly answered golf trivia question would be, “Who won the 2009 U.S. Open?” By the way, did I tell you that I might not be perfect?

There are some things that are definitely might be happening and it’s not all good.

There is definitely growing unrest among the LPGA rank and file. Word has it that there was a “special” dinner held during the recent Jamie Farr Classic. Evidently, the restaurant’s special of the night was “Roast Bivens au jus.” The girls aren’t thrilled with Commissioner Carolyn Bivens’ strategy.

While it would have been difficult to forecast the economic debacle now gripping the country from very far out, the LPGA has been hard hit. Unfortunately, under Bivens’ direction, most of the tournament contracts run out this year. The climate calls for conciliatory communication between the LPGA and their tournament sponsors. Instead, Bivens has maintained a hard line in sponsor negotiations.

The results haven’t been good. It could be that the Tour will lose three tournaments in Hawaii (they’ve lost Kapalua for certain). They may also have none in Florida or Arizona. This is a major disaster waiting to happen.

Here’s something you may want to think about. The big announcement out of the LPGA Daytona, Fla. headquarters has been about a new tournament to be held in Korea in 2010. Given the heavy Korean population already on the LPGA rolls, it’s not a stretch to think that the LPGA is heading towards being part of a hybrid that will fold the Asian LPGA and the US LPGA tours into one.

This won’t be a victory, but it will be a solution. However the odds are that Bivens won’t be a part of it. The players view her more as a major part of the problem and definitely not the solution.

As a contrast, the PGA Tour will have the bulk of their sponsorship contracts expire at the end of the 2010 season. Don’t be surprised if purses drop in the new contracts for part if not the entire term. Players will still make a great living because they won’t lose many sponsors. However, I can see a major restructuring of the FedEx Cup.

What may suffer if the economy doesn’t come around in short order are the Nationwide and Champions Tours. The only thing they have going for them are the relatively inexpensive purses. Their Golf Channel TV exposure isn’t all that attractive and the schedule breaks don’t allow a build up of continual interest. They should survive, but who knows in what form.

Yet again, out thoughts and prayers are with the Mickelson family as word has come out that Phil’s mother has also been diagnosed with breast cancer. Two of the most important women in Phil’s life have been diagnosed with this terrible disease. NO family deserves this.

Bartender, sorry but this bearer of bad news has again lost his thirst. It has to get better. By the way, allow me to be the first to prematurely congratulate Tiger on his latest addition to the Major trophy case. Maybe next time, he can favor us with a goblet of claret.

See you on the first tee,