LPGA commissioner Mike Whan’s greatest challenge continues to be rebuilding the tour’s schedule.
Even as the tour’s summer season heats up with its busiest and most exciting run of important events, the schedule’s a big story at this week’s LPGA State Farm Classic in Springfield, Ill. That’s because State Farm’s 19-year run as title sponsor of the event is ending and nobody’s sure if the tournament will return to the schedule next year.
“I’m always a glass is half full kind of guy,” Whan told GolfChannel.com about growing the tour’s schedule. “I don’t deal well with status quo. I definitely see growth in our schedule. I think 2012 will definitely be the beginning of our rebuilding back to a full schedule.”
Finding a new title sponsor in Springfield is key to rebuilding, but while Whan says he’s confident a replacement will be found for State Farm, he can’t guarantee the event will return next year.
“I believe we’ll be back in Springfield next year,” Whan told Springfield’s State-Journal Register this week. “If it’s not next year, it’ll be the year after. When people say, ‘It’s a shame you won’t be in Springfield,’ I don’t buy into that. I believe we’ll be back.’’
The LPGA features a big run of events with three majors among the six events on the June and July schedule.
The LPGA announced a schedule of 25 official events at year’s start. With the Tres Marias Championship canceled in April due to drug wars in Mexico, and with the new Imperial Springs LPGA event in China up in the air with governmental regulation issues needing resolution, it’s possible the tour schedule will feature just 23 official events. That would be down from 24 last year, 34 in 2008 and 38 in 2001.
Whan says he’s encouraged about returning to Springfield given the tour’s return to Phoenix and Atlantic City this year and a renewal to return to Toledo next year.
“As I’ve told people, I don’t think we’re going to go from 25 to 35 events in a year, but I feel good about our momentum,” Whan said.
State Farm's departure doesn't help the perception of which way momentum's heading.