LPGA Proclaims Less is More
Even though the total number of events has decreased, compared to the 2001 schedule, LPGA Tour Commissioner Ty Votaw insists that it is a positive move for the non-profit organization.
Click Here for the Full 2002 LPGA Tour Schedule
2002 is going to be a very good year for the LPGA Tour, Votaw said. The process of streamlining, refining and realigning the schedule, addressing such issues as the number of events, and geographic flow and the quality of the events, is an ongoing process. The number of events on next years schedule is due, in part, to the economy, natural attrition and our strategic planning.
One of the most glaring losses on next years schedule is the absence of a Florida Swing. The 2002 season will mark the first time in the LPGAs 51-year history without an event in Florida at the beginning of the season.
The decision to take the month of January off, as I said, was part strategic and part the realities that we face at each of the individual tournaments, Votaw said. With respect to whether or not we will go back to any kind of January Florida Swing, were going to look at that as an ongoing process of our schedule.
The lack of January events left the LPGA looking at a late start - mid-February - to the 2002 season. Then when the season-opening Hawaiian event failed to materialize, the off-season was extended to February 28th.
That situation is one where I can directly point to the September 11th situation, Votaw explained. The tourism business in Hawaii has been hit disproportionately harder than perhaps other places.
Not everyone will benefit from the increased competition. For those who struggle through 20, even 30 events a year and barely hold onto their cards, this is a decision that will further hurt their chances to continue playing professional golf at the highest level.
I think this is a performance based Tour, Votaw said. I think all of our players know that and realize that. While they would like to have perhaps more opportunities rather than fewer, we also have to deal with that in the context of fulfilling what our brand promise is, which is, again, to showcase the very best of womens professional golf week-in and week-out.
Events on next years schedule boast an average purse of $1.19 million, which represents a 10% increase over last year. The First Union Betsy King Classic had the largest single increase of $400,000, which raised their 2002 purse to $1.2 million in prize money next year.
The fact that the LPGA Tour has been able to increase purses - and overall prize money - while decreasing the number of events speaks volumes in itself, and Commissioner Votaw is especially proud of this fact.
Our players are competing for more money each week than ever before, and this should increase even more because we expect several additional tournaments to announce purse increases for 2002. We are happy with our schedule as released.
Events on the 2002 schedule have title sponsors comprised of five grocery store chains, three fast-food companies and two food companies which Votaw feels properly aligns the LPGA in the current economy.
The fact that we are sponsored by food companies which traditionally do better in times of recession than perhaps other industries, does provide me some level of comfort as to the short-term, having to eat short-term situations that were faced with.
'The commitment of our tournament sponsors to the growth of the LPGA Tour continues to be phenomenal. Our focus in the coming years will be on quality, not only in the competitive environment, but also in the area of economic opportunity for our players.
'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.
Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.
“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”
Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.
The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.
“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”
Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.
“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”
Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.
“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.
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Ball headed O.B., Stone (68) gets huge break
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brandon Stone knew it when he hit it.
“I knew I hit it out of bounds,” the South African said following his opening round in the 147th Open Championship.
Stone’s second shot on the par-4 18th, from the left fescue, was pulled into the grandstands, which are marked as O.B. But instead of settling in with the crowd, the ball ricocheted back towards the green and nearly onto the putting surface.
Stone made his par and walked away with a 3-under 68, two shots off the early lead.
“I really didn’t put a good swing on it, bad contact and it just came out way left,” Stone said. “I feel so sorry for the person I managed to catch on the forehead there, but got a lucky break.
“When you get breaks like that you know you’re going to have good weeks.”
It’s been more than just good luck recently for Stone. He shot 60 in the final round – missing a 9-foot birdie putt for the first 59 in European Tour history – to win last week’s Scottish Open. It was his third career win on the circuit and first since 2016. It was also just his first top-10 of the season.
“A testament to a different mental approach and probably the change in putter,” said Stone, who added that he switched to a new Ping Anser blade model last week.
“I’ve been putting, probably, the best I have in my entire life.”
This marks Stone’s sixth start in a major championship, with his best finish a tie for 35th in last year’s U.S. Open. He has a missed cut and a T-70 in two prior Open Championships.