LPGA to Decrease Events in 2004

By Associated PressNovember 20, 2003, 5:00 pm
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Less is more on the LPGA Tour, which will take January off in 2004 and will stage four or five fewer events than it did at the start of the decade.
 
In his State of the Tour address Thursday, commissioner Ty Votaw described an LPGA Tour that gained fans and sponsors this year thanks largely to Annika Sorenstam's popularity. Votaw announced plans for the World Congress of Women's Golf next May, where more than a dozen associations will meet to discuss the sport's future.
 
That could include a worldwide ranking system, a tournament that would look like the Solheim Cup but would include non-Europeans, and an increased focus on cultural diversity.
 
What it won't include, however, is a significantly bigger calendar for the LPGA Tour, which pared a 38-tournament schedule to 32 the last two years. Votaw figures it makes little sense to compete against the NFL playoffs and other sports in January.
 
'I think every sport has an offseason, every sport has a regular season, every sport has a playoff,' Votaw said. 'I think our schedule is a very solid and good schedule.'
 
The tour drew an average of seven of the top 10 and 23 of the top 30 players to each event this year and fan attendance was up 8 percent. TV viewership is, at worst, holding steady, according to Votaw's numbers, and hits on the tour's Web site are up. The commissioner cited a study from Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal stating that the LPGA was the most sponsor-friendly sport
in the business.
 
'This is not how the media perceives us,' he said. 'This is not how we perceive ourselves. This is how our customers, the industry, is feeling about us.'
 
Sorenstam's appearance in the PGA Tour's Colonial was a landmark event. Se Ri Pak, Suzy Whaley, Laura Davies and Michelle Wie played in men's events this year, as well.
 
'It doesn't marginalize the LPGA,' he said. 'In fact, we're helping some other men's events with the star power of our players playing in those events. We're happy to help them.'
 
Among the most important topics at the Congress of Women's Golf will be cultural diversity -- more specifically, how to help Asian players assimilate more
easily.
 
Talk of overprotective parents who sometimes cheat to help their Asian daughters permeated the LPGA toward the end of this year. Jan Stephenson's assertion that Asians were 'killing our tour' because of their supposed unwillingness to speak English and their uninterested behavior in pro-ams added to the image problem.
 
Stephenson later apologized for those statements.
 
Votaw held a pair of meetings with the growing Asian contingent, led by Pak, to address some of these issues earlier this year. The discussions will continue at the Congress.
 
The LPGA also will add Grace Park, a native of Korea who has lived in America, to its board of directors as a nonvoting member.
 
The 33-tournament schedule, which could go to 34, includes 24 full-field events, one unofficial event and eight limited-field tournaments, like the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship that began Thursday.
 
One prickly issue brought about by the recent scaling back is how to handle the awarding of the Vare Trophy, which goes to the player with the lowest scoring average. With an average of 68.91, more than a stroke better than Pak, Sorenstam would likely win the trophy this year, but she's ineligible because she hasn't played the minimum 70 rounds.
 
While the schedule was reduced in 2002, the 70-round minimum wasn't -- and Sorenstam isn't happy.
 
'We'll look at it,' Votaw said. 'I'm not sure we'll look at it very long, but we'll look at it.'
 
Related Links:
  • Complete 2004 LPGA Tour Schedule
  • Getty Images

    Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

    McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

    “Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

    The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.


    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

    “He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”

    Getty Images

    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


    Getty Images

    Woods happy to help Furyk at Ryder Cup

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:58 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods didn't hesitate when Jim Furyk asked him to become a vice captain at the upcoming Ryder Cup.

    Woods said Wednesday that Furyk asked he and Steve Stricker “a while ago” whether they were interested in being assistants in Paris as the Americans try to win a Ryder Cup on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.

    “He’s one of my best friends,” Woods said of Furyk, “and whatever he wants, whatever he needs, I’m there to help him. We’re worked well the last couple of years in the cups together.”


    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    Though Woods has said that he wants to be a playing vice captain, he has been an assistant at each of the past two international team competitions.

    Furyk, Woods and Stricker were all assistants at Hazeltine, where the U.S. won in a rout.

    “Jim is very detailed, very smart, very analytical, and he’s just a fantastic leader,” Woods said. “For him to ask Stricks and I together, it will be special for both of us.”

    Getty Images

    Woods to hit '4 or 5' drivers each day at Honda

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:25 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Those hoping Tiger Woods will wield the driver early and often this week at PGA National likely will be disappointed.

    Depending on wind direction, he said he will only hit “four or five” drivers each round.

    During Wednesday’s pro-am, Woods hit driver on six holes. He found two fairways with the big stick and found the right rough four times, though a few of those misses were only a few yards off the fairway.


    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    In two starts this year, Woods has struggled mightily with every club off the tee, but driver has been especially troublesome. He has found only 36 percent of the fairways so far (30 of 84).

    The Champion Course here is a par 70, with water and bunkers often lining the fairways. Putting the ball in play off the tee will be at a premium, and so Woods opted for a low, penetrating 2-iron six times in the pro-am.

    Woods said he did not make any equipment changes following the missed cut at Riviera.