Good news for LPGA


Wegmans LPGA officials have agreed in principle to terms of a new five-year contract to continue as title sponsor of the Pittsford, N.Y., tournament, has learned.

Final details are being worked out with an announcement expected within a week.

The future of the 33-year-old event appeared in jeopardy with negotiations for a contract renewal bogged down in talks under former LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens. Jiyai Shin won the 2009 event at Locust Hills Country Club in late June. The tournament contract expired this year with no renewal announcement at the conclusion of play.

Wegmans is working out its new deal with the LPGA leadership’s interim regime, which is spearheading title sponsorship negotiations while a search for a new commissioner continues. Marty Evans is acting commissioner. Bivens was forced out by player membership a little more than a week after the Wegmans LPGA.

The Wegmans LPGA paid out a $2 million purse this year. The size of future purses is a hard negotiating point title sponsors are addressing in renewal talks with the LPGA interim regime. Purse details under the new Wegmans LPGA contract are unknown.

With the economy slumping, and Bivens’ holding firm to a new business model seeking larger financial commitments from title sponsors, the LPGA’s 2010 schedule faced considerable challenges. The Wegmans LPGA will become just the 15th tournament under contract for next year’s schedule. The tour is believed still to be in renewal discussions with 14 events under the ’09 schedule.

In forcing out Bivens, LPGA players made it clear they want the securing of playing opportunities to be a tour priority. Tournament officials say that may mean asking LPGA players to compete for smaller purses.