The State of Womens Golf - Part 2
Viewership and traffic increases on our LPGA telecasts on ESPN, ESPN2 and LPGA.com have been significant this year. The LPGA State Farm series on ESPN and ESPN2 have generated 28% rating increases in household viewership from this year over last year; 42% when you look at the weekend telecast Saturday and Sunday, Votaw said during the Tyco/ADT Championship.
The LPGA Tour experienced positive growth throughout the 1990s. This was in part due to the giant influx of international players and the rise of the Big Three ' Karrie Webb, Annika Sorenstam and Se Ri Pak.
The organization has seen the total prize money for its events increase 154% from 1990 to 2001, while televised events increased 153% during this same time.
Thirteen of our tournaments have raised their purses. Votaw continued. Well over half of our existing events will be raising their purses this year. Twenty of our tournaments have been on the schedule for at least 10 years with 12 of our events on our schedule for more than 20 years.
'That, combined with the viewership increases that are reflected in the State Farm series and the traffic on LPGA.com, I believe that the 31-event schedule will fulfill our brand promise of showcasing the very best of womens professional golf on a consistent, week-in and week-out basis.
Votaw, who will celebrate his 40th birthday in March 2002, began his tenure as commissioner of the LPGA three years ago. His primary goals are to further strengthen and build on the Tours existing schedule while continuing to globalize the Tour.
With a B.S. in journalism with summa cum laude honors at Ohio University, as well as a law degree from the University of North Carolina with cum laude honors, the Ohio native has the credentials needed to do the job. In addition to his paper credentials, Votaw loves his job.
The LPGA Tour is not the only tour raising prize money for next year. The Evian Tour is as well.
Evian Ladies European Tour marketing manager Emma Allerton is certain that the ground is fertile for womens golf in Europe to boom.
With young, stylish, talented players now succeeding time and time again at the tournament, the commercial team will look to reflect this new dynamic and glamorous image through all communications, encouraging the interest of the game to spectators, sponsors and the media alike,' she said.
We aim to raise the profile and reposition the Evian Tour as the most vibrant and dynamic womens sport in Europe.
Allerton credits the historical victory over the USA in the 1999 Solheim Cup as the turning point of interest in women's world golf as well as three dynamic rookie players ' Spains Paula Marti, Norways Suzann Pettersen and Karine Icher of France.
The Evian Tour now has their own Big Three to help drive interest in the their tour.
Just look at the success of women athletes and tennis players around the world,' Allerton added.
Television exposure is another meter of just how much interest there is in womens golf. In addition to the BBCs live coverage of events, the Evian Tour will telecast highlight programs to 130 countries, reaching over 40 million viewers; and in 2002 will launch a new lifestyle magazine show featuring the tour, the players, as well as travel, health, fashion and fitness.
There are undoubtedly some changes that will have to be made.
Like all womens golf organizations, the LPGA will have to adapt to the learning curve of a younger generation. Their ability to do so will be key to how the organization does future business, and more importantly how successful their business is. Votaw seems to understand this.
Our focus on the coming years will be on quality not only in the competitive area, but also in the economic quality of the golf courses that we play, the quality of our television, or the quality of the fan experience on site,' he said.
With so many positive factors painting a picture of business success coupled with changing dynamics, it is safe to surmise that the sport of womens golf has never been more popular than it is today. Be it the influences of Tiger Woods, Webb and Sorenstam - or the advent of junior golf programs, there is a virtually unquenchable desire to be a part of golf, regardless of gender.
Click here for The State of Women's Golf - Part 1
Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.