LPGA planning Olympic-style event for 2012


USA vs. South Korea?

USA vs. Japan?

USA vs. world No. 1 Yani Tseng and Taiwan?

USA vs. the United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden and Spain?

It’s all in the works in one event with the LPGA feverishly formulating plans for its first Olympic-style competition to be staged in July at Rich Harvest Farms in suburban Chicago with Navistar in serious negotiations to become presenting sponsor, multiple sources told GolfChannel.com.

Though details for the new international team competition are still being tweaked and agreements have yet to be signed, sources familiar with the planning say the event’s far enough along that it was listed in a tentative 2012 schedule LPGA commissioner Mike Whan released to players last month. Though the event’s penciled in for July 13-15, the week after the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run, the date could be pushed back a week.

While sources say the name of the new event isn’t finalized, The International, or The Continental Cup, are among considerations for what’s proposed as a biennial competition.

The new event is designed to build on the patriotic excitement generated in the Solheim Cup and provide opportunities for players beyond those in Europe and the United States. Sources say the plan most embraced by the LPGA calls for at least eight nations to compete with four-woman teams in an undetermined match-play style format. The plans, still being reviewed, would use a Rolex World rankings formula at the end of 2011 to determine which eight nations would qualify for the competition. Once the nations are determined, the players would earn their way onto teams off either the rankings or the LPGA money list with player qualifying extending into the first half of 2012.

The event would not count as official, but unlike the Solheim Cup, the LPGA’s proposing a purse, believed to be $1 million or more. Sources say Navistar would also continue to sponsor its full-field event in Prattville, Ala.

Rich Harvest Farms, owned by Jerry Rich, was the site of the 2009 Solheim Cup, a venue that attracted substantial crowds.

“While Commissioner Mike Whan has made no secret of our interest in creating a biennial global team competition, any reporting on specifics at this point would be premature,” LPGA chief communications officer Kraig Kann said in a statement to GolfChannel.com. “There is still too much work to be done.”

The race to qualify for the teams would add some spice to the LPGA season, with players competing to make it. With just four spots per team, the competition could be intense. If the money list were used today to decide the U.S. roster, the American team would be made up of Cristie KerrStacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome and Angela Stanford. If the world rankings were used, the team would be made up of Kerr, Paula Creamer, Lewis and Lincicome.

The new event would provide a stage for players who are left out of the Solheim Cup. Taiwan’s Tseng, Japan’s Ai Miyazato, South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi and Jiyai Shin and Australia’s Karrie Webb would be eligible for the international team competition.