LPGA Tour Championship goes on without sponsor


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LPGA Tour _newThe LPGA Tour Championship will be played as this years season-ending event with or without a title sponsor in its new home just outside Houston, LPGA and IMG officials announced Tuesday.
The event is scheduled to be played Nov. 19-22 at The Houstonian Golf & Country Club in Richmond, Texas.
The Golf Channel will televise all four rounds.
IMG owns the event.
Originally designated the Stanford Financial Tour Championship, IMG is searching with the LPGA for a new title sponsor. Stanford Financial was lost as title sponsor after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission raided the offices of R. Allen Stanford in February. The SEC froze the assets of three companies Stanford controls as part of a fraud investigation.
LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens and IMG Senior Vice President Mark Steinberg spoke to local media Tuesday at The Houstonian Golf & Country Club to address concerns the event might not come off with the tour facing multiple sponsorship issues in a sagging economy.
The Samsung Invitational was played in Houston in 2003, but the metropolitan area hasnt been host to a regular LPGA event since 1986.
Houston is a premier sports city that will embrace a season finale featuring the games greatest stars, Bivens said. LPGA players have been eager to return to the great state of Texas, and theyre thrilled that theyll do so on such a spectacular course.
While IMG spokesman Dave Haggith said theres a multi-year commitment to Houston as host of the event, contract specifics will ultimately depend on a deal with a new title sponsor.
Four LPGA events in the United States are without title sponsors this year and the contracts with seven other title sponsors are expiring this season.
There was so much speculation out there, we decided to come out and say were definitely going forward with this event, with or without a title sponsor, said David Higdon, the LPGAs chief of communications.
The loss of Stanford Financial will impact the LPGA Tour Championship purse with the original plan for a $2 million payout reduced to $1.5 million.
The LPGA Tour Championship will replace the ADT Championship as the season-ending event. The ADT Championship featured the largest first-place check in womens golf ($1 million) as the finale to the season-long LPGA Playoffs. LPGA officials said they continue to seek a new title sponsor to replace ADT while continuing plans to move the event to the front portion of the 2010 schedule.
The LPGAs original Tour Championship evolved into the ADT Championship. The new Tour Championship evolved out of an upstart IMG event, the Stanford International Pro-Am, which was played for the first time last year in Miami Beach.
The Tour Championship format will feature a 120-player field with a cut to the low 70 players and ties after 36 holes and another cut to the low 30 and ties after 54 holes.