Rising Ratings Lead To Most Televised Hours In LPGA History

By Golf Channel Public RelationsMarch 12, 2013, 7:40 pm

With a continuously growing worldwide fan base and increased television ratings, the LPGA today unveiled its 2013 tournament schedule on Golf Channel, which features nearly 300 hours of original coverage, all North American weekend telecasts aired live and production features designed to spotlight LPGA stars. In addition to a 22 percent increase of tournament coverage over last year, all telecasts through the end of the 2013 season will be broadcast in high-definition.

Coming off of the most-watched LPGA Tour event from Asia in five years at the HSBC Women’s Champions, the domestic schedule kicks in this week from Phoenix, Ariz., at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. The LPGA Tour has seen a 68 percent ratings increase over the past two seasons of domestic tournaments.

“Our fans have pushed the tour’s television coverage and ratings to new heights and we’re pleased to present them with even more opportunities to watch our players in action,” said Brian Carroll, LPGA Vice President of Television and Emerging Media. “Our strong partnership with Golf Channel has provided us with many exciting ways to further showcase our players, not only during tournament telecasts, but also beyond the golf course.”

“The LPGA Tour continues to be a key part of Golf Channel’s overall tournament coverage,” said Molly Solomon, Golf Channel Executive Producer. “We have developed a great collaborative relationship with the Tour and invested more resources to better serve our loyal fans, which has created more inside-the-ropes access and more hours of coverage.”

Highlights of the television schedule include:

- For the second-consecutive year, the tour will have live coverage for more than 90 percent of North American telecasts, including 100 percent of weekend telecasts.

- Nearly 30 hours of live coverage of The Solheim Cup, the biennial, international match play competition pitting the United States versus Europe. In addition to the telecasts, Golf Channel will also have live coverage of The Solheim Cup’s opening and closing ceremonies. The last playing of The Solheim Cup in the U.S. at Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago in 2009 featured the highest viewed LPGA round (Sunday) in Golf Channel history.

- Golf Channel will again provide robust tournament coverage at major championships at both the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Wegmans LPGA Championship. The Kraft Nabisco garnered the highest ratings on the network for a single event on the LPGA Tour last season, including the most-watched first round of the event on any cable network in 19 years and most-watched second round in 18 years. Golf Channel also will air live coverage of the LPGA’s fifth major, the Evian Championship, formerly the Evian Masters, contested Sept. 12-15.

- Golf Channel will televise pro-am shows from three tournaments – Kraft Nabisco Championship (April 4-7), Manulife Financial LPGA Classic (July 11-14) and CME Group Titleholders (Nov. 21-24) – when viewers will get inside-the-ropes access to the pros as they prepare for competition.

Golf Channel will continue to showcase LPGA players’ personalities and will promote features that provide an inside look at the world’s best female golfers. After its well-received debut during the telecast of the season-finale CME Group Titleholders last year, the ‘Twitter Takeover’ segment will make a return this season, beginning this week at the RR Donnelley Founders Cup. The feature will regularly highlight players in the Golf Channel booth taking over the LPGA’s Twitter account (@lpga) and will provide a unique fan-interaction platform where players can answer fan questions and respond to comments using the hashtag, #LPGAonGC. Golf Channel also will produce segments with a behind-the-scenes take at selected pro-am events, as well as having players swap roles with the broadcast production crew.

Golf Channel’s LPGA broadcast team will include mostly familiar faces, with a few notables joining at select tournaments. Hall-of-Famer Judy Rankin will return as lead analyst, joining one of three play-by-play hosts that includes Terry Gannon, Whit Watson and LPGA mainstay Tom Abbott, who will serve as a hole announcer when not calling play by play. The on-course reporting team will include Jerry Foltz, Val Skinner, Kay Cockerill and Kelli Kuehne. Curt Byrum, who has been a regular for both PGA TOUR and Champions Tour telecasts on Golf Channel, will make his LPGA Tour debut at selected tournaments not attended by Rankin.

Golf Channel aired live coverage of the final round of the season-opening ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February where Jiyai Shin battled 15 year-old amateur Lydia Ko and Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng for her 11th career victory. The tour also will expand its global reach with the addition of two new international television markets and will have broadcasts in Myanmar and New Zealand for the first time.

2013 LPGA Tour / Golf Channel Tournament Schedule






RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup




Kia Classic




Kraft Nabisco Championship




LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf




North Texas LPGA Shootout




Kingsmill Championship




Mobile Bay LPGA Classic




Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic




ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer




Wegmans LPGA Championship




Walmart NW Arkansas Championship




Manulife Financial LPGA Classic




Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning & O-I




The Solheim Cup




CN Canadian Women's Open




Portland Classic Presented by Safeway




The Evian Championship




Reignwood Pine Valley LPGA Classic




Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia




LPGA KEP HanaBank Championship




"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

“I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

And that’s a magic word in golf.

There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.

Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery

A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

“The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

“It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

Parity was the story this year.

Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

“I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.