Bridge Building

By Randall MellJuly 13, 2009, 4:00 pm
LPGA Tour _newNow the hard work begins.
 
Marsha J. Evans may have interim attached to her new role as LPGA commissioner, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the vital work shes faced with over the next few months.
 
The retired Navy rear admiral is now in the business of bridge building.
 
Marsha Evans
Marsha Evans was announced as the interim LPGA commissioner Monday. (Getty Images)
The worlds great bridges stand as a testament to mankinds ingenuity in advancing its connection to vital resources.
 
Evans is charged with re-connecting the LPGA with tournaments and title sponsors.
 
They are the tours lifeblood and the work wont wait while the LPGA Board of Directors embarks on a thorough search for Carolyn Bivens successor.
 
When the LPGA announced Monday that the embattled Bivens was officially stepping down, Evans stepped up and into a role that might not last more than three months. Still, it will rank as three of the most important months in the organizations 59-year history. The tour needs strong leadership, and it needs it right now.
 
Nine title sponsors on last years schedule arent on the schedule thats penciled in for 2010.
 
SBS, Fields, Safeway, Corning , SemGroup, McDonalds, Ginn, Stanford and ADT were part of a healthy 08 schedule but wont be pumping any money into next years schedule.
 
At least four other title sponsors are up in the air over whether theyll renew contracts.
 
Thats 13 title sponsors, all of them connected to domestic events.
 
The tour could use a couple title sponsorship victories this summer to lift player morale and change some negative momentum.
 
It should be emphasized the LPGA isnt in danger of folding, but the loss of all those sponsorships is painful to tour pros who depend on playing opportunities.
 
In the end, no matter what players thought of Bivens tactics, that was the bottom line that led to her ouster.
 
The 15 or so players who penned their names to a letter devised over a dinner at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic almost two weeks ago would have tolerated the bad publicity that came with public relations missteps Bivens made over media image rights, the proposed English-proficiency standard and tweeting during competition. They werent going to tolerate the loss of all those sponsors when too many tournament directors were telling them that Bivens inflexible negotiating tactics were as much to blame as the economy. Thats why they asked for Bivens resignation.
 
You can add all the internal things in the world you want to the tour, many good additions, but nothing matters if you dont have strong tournaments and good schedules, because thats what drives the bus, Hall of Famer Judy Rankin said Monday before hopping onto a plane for the British Open.
 
So Evans charge is large in trying to repair wobbly bridges and build new ones.
 
Evans, who retired from a 30-year Naval career, was on the LPGAs Advisory Council for two years before joining the LPGA Board this year. Shes also held the top leadership positions for the American Red Cross and the Girl Scouts of the USA . Her endeavors havent been without conflict. The Washington Post reported she received a $780,000 buyout after her ouster from the chief executive position with the Red Cross three years ago. The organizations board reportedly had issues with her command and control management style.
 
I dont think you can get along in the corporate world without clashing with people, Rankin said. You do need a commissioner who will fight for you when its the right thing to do. Also, you need the ability to compromise.
 
Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, one of seven player directors on the LPGA Board, believes Evans is the perfect blend of tough and gentle to build bridges for the next commissioner.
 
She was everybodys first choice for this role, Inkster said. She has everything we need at this moment. While she has no intention of being the commissioner, she can help us out and steady the ship.
 

 
Shes a very good listener, very soft spoken, very knowledgeable. She fills a lot of the qualities we need right now. Shes a good people person, good with relationships, which is something we need to rebuild.
 
The good news for players is that tournament owners are encouraged by Evans and her interim team, which includes Annika Sorenstam as new Advisor to the LPGA Board of Directors.
 
Were eager to work with this group of people, said Gail Graham, president of the LPGAs Tournament Owners Association. Ive had some conversations with their staff, and theyre really wanting to focus on making sure there is good communication and relations, and that they can find a way of being flexible in negotiating issues and making sure we have a solid schedule in 2010.
 
Im pretty psyched. Weve seen things to make us believe that theres a lot of promise, even in this economy. Im not saying it wont be difficult as it plays itself out, but the optimism is a very, very good thing.
 
So let the bridge building begin.
 

 
Related Links:
  • Marsha Evans Bio
  • Video: LPGA tabs Evans as interim commissioner
  • Getty Images

    Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

    By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

    Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

    ''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

    Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

    Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

    Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

    ''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


    Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

    ''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

    Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

    ''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

    Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

    Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

    Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

    ''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

    In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

    Getty Images

    Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

    By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

    ''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

    McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

    Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

    ''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

    Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

    ''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

    Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.


    Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


    McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

    ''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

    McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

    ''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

    McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

    McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

    Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

    ''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

    Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

    ''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

    Getty Images

    Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

    By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

    The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

    Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

    Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

    Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

    This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

    Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

    Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

    By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

    Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

    Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

    “You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

    It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

    Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

     “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”