Carolyn Bivens said Thursday that accusations by ShopRite Classic tournament chairman Larry Harrison that the tour failed to negotiate a suitable replacement week were 'not accurate' and added that the event could have been saved if Harrison had met deadlines during the negotiations.
Harrison announced Wednesday that the tournament would fold after 21 years and said the LPGA offered three 'unsuitable' weeks after taking its traditional week in early June and awarding it to a tournament in South Carolina.
Bivens disagreed, saying Harrison was offered eight dates that spanned April, June, July, August and September. She also said tournament officials ignored deadlines.
'Negotiations take time and we've extended deadlines repeatedly and provided numerous date options,' Bivens said. 'We're to the point where we've got to move ahead. If they'd been negotiating, they'd still have their current date.'
Bivens also denied that former commissioner Ty Votaw had promised that the ShopRite tournament could be held during the same week in June through 2008.
Tournament spokesman Rodger Gottlieb stood by the statement released Wednesday by Harrison in which he accused the LPGA Tour, among other things, of displaying an 'unwillingness to bargain in good faith.'
The statement 'is accurate and appropriately places the responsibility where it lies,' Gottlieb said Thursday.
The ShopRite Classic, held primarily at the Seaview Resort and Spa course in Galloway Township outside Atlantic City, offered $16 million in purses and raised more than $12 million for charities, according to Harrison. Multiple winners included Annika Sorenstam, Betsy King and Juli Inkster.
Its demise will likely leave New Jersey without an LPGA event next year. The state's other event, the $2 million HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship, will not return to Hamilton Farm in Gladstone.
Bivens said the site for the match play event will be announced in mid-November along with the rest of the LPGA Tour schedule. She said the tournament 'will be somewhere in the New York-New Jersey area.' A Donald Trump-owned course in Westchester County in New York has been mentioned as a possible venue.
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