LPGA projects 23-25 events next year


The news grows more encouraging for women’s golf.

LPGA executive vice president of tournament development/sales Zayra Calderon said Monday that she projects the tour will stage 23 to 25 events next year.

While that’s down from the 27 official events on this year’s schedule and 34 on last year’s, it’s notably more than players feared would be staged with so many LPGA title sponsorship contracts expiring this year, the economy still down and the tour in the middle of a search for a new commissioner. Just 17 events are under contract for next year with the tour in active discussions with nine more events, according to LPGA chief of communications David Higdon.

“We would be comfortable projecting between 23 and 25 events next year,” Calderon said. “Anything above 25, I expect we will be celebrating. If we can’t get to 25, we will be close, and I think we will consider that a strong result for 2010.”

There was good news for LPGA fans in the SportsBusiness Journal Monday with a report that Exxon Mobile is negotiating to become presenting sponsor of the LPGA Championship as part of a larger charitable deal with the tour called 'Impact,' which would promote the empowerment of women. McDonald’s was lost as the championship's title sponsor this year. The tour’s looking to secure a host course in the Washington, D.C., area.

With Sybase moving closer toward renewing its title sponsorship agreement, and with LPGA vice president of tournament marketing/sales Eric Albrecht reporting that two title sponsorship prospects emerged from the success of the Solheim Cup last month and could take root in new tour events next year, the LPGA is building some positive momentum under acting commissioner Marty Evans after a year of mostly dismal news.

All of this comes after summer news that the tour’s adding the LPGA Acapulco Classic next year, the Wegmans LPGA has renewed with a three-year deal and the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic and CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge are on board with one-year renewals.

The news helps offset setbacks, like last week’s announcement that the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill is closing up shop.