The LPGA appears poised to introduce its next commissioner as early as Wednesday morning in a news conference in New York City.
If it’s not U.S. Golf Association chief business officer Peter Bevacqua, it will be considered an upset in golf circles outside the LPGA’s inner circle, but that won’t surprise the tour’s long-time observers, who know the tour’s history of going in unexpected directions in choosing its leadership.
The search committee appointed to find a successor to Carolyn Bivens, who was forced out in a player revolt in July, was ready to make its recommendation to the LPGA Board of Directors Tuesday night, according to a source familiar with plans for the announcement. If the process goes as expected, the new commissioner could be introduced Wednesday morning.
If Bevacqua is named, he brings strong credentials with the weight and respect of one of the world’s leading golf organizations. Bevacqua was named the first chief business officer in the USGA’s history in July of 2007. He joined the organization as in-house counsel in 2000. Three years later, he was named managing director of U.S. Open championships.
While Bevacqua is believed to be the frontrunner, the LPGA search has been an extremely guarded process, with few of the candidates who were even interviewed emerging publicly. Jonathan Ward, the senior adviser at Kohlberg Co. and a former chief executive officer of ServiceMaster and chief operating officer of R.R. Donnelley & Sons, was among those interviewed. Donna Orender, the WNBA’s president, was considered a frontrunner before informing the LPGA she did not want to be considered a candidate. Arlen Kantarian, a former chief executive with the U.S. Tennis Association and now a senior adviser to the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, and Jeffrey Pollack, the commissioner of the World Series of Poker, were reported to have withdrawn their candidacies last week.
Still, if the LPGA surprises golf with its choice as next commissioner, it won’t be the first time. Bivens emerged late and unexpectedly as the tour’s seventh commissioner when she was named in June of 2005. She was the first woman to serve as commissioner but came with no experience in the golf industry. She came as the president of a media services agency after making her name as an executive with USA Today.