The LPGA Tour released its schedule for 2012 this week with five more events and $7 million more in total prize money over 2011. The biggest story in this announcement is that there are more domestic LPGA Tour events which is a great sign for the future and proof that Michael Whan is doing great work. Whan has had a very tough job and she thinks that the job of LPGA Tour Commissioner is the toughest in sports even with a strong economy. He has worked very hard to get the opinions of all of the players as well as the whole organization and has been able to make some great progress in a relatively short amount of time.
In her final year on the LPGA Tour, she won the Michelob ULTRA Open on the LPGA Tour in 2008 and so she is obviously thrilled that an LPGA Tour event will be returning to Kingsmill for the first time in a few years. She was very relieved that she was able to announce that she was stepping away from the game on the heels of a win instead of a runner-up finish. Moving the RICOH Women’s British Open to September is great for the event and great for the LPGA Tour because it schedules the Major Championships over a few months instead of a few weeks like in 2011. It is very important that the LPGA Tour is able to play their Major Championships on great golf courses like Oakmont and St. Andrews because it shows that the LPGA Tour is getting more respect all around the world. She thinks that 2012 will be a great year for the LPGA Tour.
Annika will be at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, CA next week. She thinks it is wonderful that former President Bill Clinton is a great person to step in and use his influence to both help this event and to raise awareness about healthier habits in life. Clinton has been able to bring in some great names like Norman, Mickelson, and Anthony Kim which really helps to bring this event up from where it was the past few years.
After the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, pace of play once again became an issue at the forefront of the coverage. When she was on the LPGA Tour, she dealt with slow play a lot. She considers herself to be a fast player and whenever there is slow play, it hurts everyone involved and helps absolutely no one. It is a problem on every tour and pace of play is one of the most important things to the success of golf. When it comes to solutions, the answer is difficult because while everyone knows what the problem is, no one (her included) is sure what exactly can be done to make everyone play quicker. There are ways to make the pace quicker but since money no longer makes an impact on players, stroke penalties may be needed to get the attention of slow players.
The Annika Invitational on the AJGA is being held for the fourth year at the Reunion Resort in Orlando. The AJGA is doing a great job to teach young players the need to develop good habits when it comes to playing quickly as well as how to behave when you are on the golf course. She has been very happy to offer her perspectives to these players and it has been wonderful to raise a lot of money for charities and the Annika Foundation has done great work. Over the years, she is seeing increased talent among these young players from any and all countries around the world. These kids have all of the resources they need but as the game of golf grows, it is important to continue to inspire them to choose golf because there are so many choices in the world today.