Hawaii without LPGA Tour events in 2010

By Associated PressJuly 2, 2009, 4:00 pm
LPGA Tour _newHONOLULU ' Michelle Wies home state, which promotes itself as a golfers paradise with year-round sunny weather, has bid aloha to the LPGA ' for now.
 
The number of LPGA events have dwindled from a record three in 2008 to one this season and none scheduled for next year as corporate sponsors and golf courses try to cut marketing costs amid global economic declines. The tour is hoping a new sponsor will step up soon so Hawaii wont be left off the 2010 schedule.
 
Every sport, every corporation, every family is feeling the recession, so its not easy, LPGA spokesman David Higdon said. But were going to work hard and we know we have a great sport, a great circuit and a great history in Hawaii.
 
The Kapalua LPGA Classic said this week that it has pulled out of its contract to host the event with four years remaining on its five-year contract. LPGA Tour deputy commissioner Libba Galloway said the tour is extremely disappointed and plans to vigorously enforce all our legal rights under the contract.
 
Kapalua, owned by Maui Land & Pineapple Co., sponsored the events inaugural event last year, which was won by its touring pro, Morgan Pressel. Kapalua said is unable to present the tournament in October without a title sponsor.
 
Its disappointing but a reality in todays current economic climate that title sponsorships are difficult to secure, said Gary Planos, Kapalua Land Co. senior vice president.
 
Kapalua is the third event erased from this seasons LPGA calendar. The Ginn Open in Florida is dead and the Bell Micro LPGA Classic in Alabama was moved to next spring. The Corning Classic in Corning, N.Y., lost its sponsor for next year and the fates of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic in Ohio and the Michelob Ultra Open in Virginia also are uncertain.
 
Higdon said hes not worried about others following Kapaluas lead because of contractual obligations.
 
Also gone from the islands are the SBS Open and the Fields Open, which used to open the LPGA season. Fields Corp., a Japanese gaming machine developer, didnt renew sponsorship after last years event.
 
The SBS and the LPGA ended a long relationship in a bitter breakup to start the season.
 
The Korean media giant felt disrespected when the tour agreed to a lucrative, long-term deal with SBSs much-smaller competitor, J Golf, for an exclusive TV deal in the golf-crazed Asian nation.
 
They have moved Tiffanys from 57th Street in Manhattan to Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, SBS president Sang Chun told Golf World in February.
 
SBS, one of South Koreas four major networks, in turn agreed to a 10-year deal with the PGA Tour to sponsor its season opener in Kapalua, which had been previously sponsored by Mercedes-Benz. SBS also extended its exclusive agreement to show PGA Tour events in South Korea.
 
The LPGA says it was actively seeking to secure a new title sponsor to replace SBS and hopeful that Hawaii wouldnt be left off the schedule next year for the first time since 2004.
 
Michael Story, sports manager for the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said the state realizes the importance of pro golf as a marketing tool. The state usually contributes $50,000 to each LPGA Tour event held in the islands.
 
Its what we would consider part of our competitive set, when we talk about what Hawaii has to offer as a destination, he said.
 
However, Story said he realizes theres just not as much money to go around to host tournaments.
 
I think theres a lot of business reevaluating what they direct their money to, and thats not something we can control, he said.
 
Besides the balmy winter weather and its proximity to Asia, one key reason why the LPGA wants to be back in Hawaii so badly is the Wie factor.
 
Why do we have three tournaments in Mexico? Players drive our business, said Higdon, referring to the draw of top-ranked Lorena Ochoa. If Michelle Wie took off, the business model will probably change a little bit more and well be fielding more calls and options.
 
Wie has played well in Hawaii, drawing huge galleries ever since she qualified for an LPGA event on the Big Island at age 12 and two years later shooting a 68 in the PGA Tours Sony Open to miss the cut by a stroke.
 
She opened her rookie campaign in February by finishing second at Turtle Bay, where she tied for second in 2005 as a 15-year-old amateur.
 
Higdon said the SBS in February was a huge success for the LPGA, which experienced the second-highest traffic on its Web site for a non-major event. It was topped only by the 2006 Evian Ladies Masters, where Wie finished tied for second.
 
You look at how amazing Tiger Woods has been and what a draw he is. Of our players, Michelle Wie has that quality, Higdon said. So we hope that she can develop because she already has that strong following. If she turns into a great player, it will be amazing for the sport and those are the kinds of things that will play in Hawaiis favor down the road.
 
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    Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

    Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

    Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

    And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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    Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

    By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

    The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

    The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

    ''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

    Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

    Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

    That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

    ''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

    Off the course, they're also different.

    The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

    Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

    Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

    ''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

    Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

    Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

    Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

    On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

    In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

    Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

    Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

    ''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

    The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

    ''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

    LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

    Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

    ''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''

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    Wise: 'No hard feelings' over Nelson missed kiss

    By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 10:18 pm

    Aaron Wise left the AT&T Byron Nelson with his first PGA Tour trophy and a seven-figure paycheck. But lost in the shuffle of closing out his breakthrough victory in near-darkness was his failed attempt for a celebratory kiss with his girlfriend on the 18th green.

    Wise appeared to go in for a peck after his family joined him on the putting surface, but instead he and his girlfriend simply laughed and hugged. After the moment gained a bit of online notoriety, Wise told reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the young couple simply laughed it off.

    "Yeah, I have been giving her some s--- about that," Wise said. "A lot has been made about it. It's really nothing. Like I was saying, she was just so excited to surprise me. I was kind of ruining the surprise a little bit that she was shocked, and she didn't even see me going in for the kiss."

    At age 21, Wise is now one of the youngest winners on Tour. He explained that while both his girlfriend and mother flew in to watch the final round at Trinity Forest Golf Club, where he shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won by three shots, he took some of the surprise out of their arrival in true millennial fashion - by looking up his girlfriend's location earlier in the day.

    Still getting used to his newfound status on Tour, Wise downplayed any controversy surrounding the kiss that wasn't.

    "No hard feelings at all," Wise said. "We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was."

    Mmm Visuals / Lancaster Country Club

    Giving back: Chun creates education fund at site of Open win

    By Randall MellMay 23, 2018, 8:04 pm

    South Korea’s In Gee Chun is investing in American youth.

    Chun broke through on the largest stage in women’s golf, winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago, and she’s making sure Lancaster, Pa., continues to share in what that brought her.

    Chun is preparing for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek outside Birmingham, Ala., but she made a special stop this week. She returned to the site of her breakthrough in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday, launching the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Education Fund. She announced Tuesday that she’s donating $10,000 to seed the fund. She’s expected to raise more than $20,000 for the cause in a fundraising dinner at the club Wednesday evening. The fund will annually award scholarships to Lancaster youth applicants, including Lancaster Country Club caddies and children of club employees.

    “I’m excited to be back here,” said Chun, who put on a junior clinic during her stay and also played an outing with club members. “Winning the U.S. Women’s Open here in Lancaster gave me the opportunity to play on the LPGA and make one of my dreams come true.”

    Chun also supports a fund in her name at Korea University, where she graduated, a fund for various “social responsibility” projects and for the educational needs of the youth who create them.

    “Education is very important to me,” Chun said. “I would like to help others reach their goals.”

    Chun made donations to the Lancaster General Health Foundation in 2015 and ’16 and to Pennsylvania’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust last year. Lancaster Country Club officials estimate she has now made donations in excess of $40,000 to the community.

    “We are grateful In Gee’s made such a wonderful connection to our community and club,” said Rory Connaughton, a member of Lancaster Country Club’s board of governors. “She’s a special person.”