Big news for LPGA commissioner Mike Whan.
Paula Creamer told GolfChannel.com today that she will play the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup March 18-20 at JW Marriott’s Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix.
“I’m in!” Creamer wrote in an e-mail response to Golf Channel asking for her reaction to Friday’s news that Whan was making significant changes to the Founders Cup, moves that specifically addressed concerns Creamer had about the charity structure.
Creamer, Cristie Kerr and Morgan Pressel all expressed frustrations with the Founders Cup planning and said they were undecided about playing. Creamer told GolfChannel.com today that she’s grateful for the manner in which Whan reacted to player concerns.
“I believe Commissioner Whan has shown his leadership abilities by listening to his players and implementing changes as a result,” Creamer said.
Creamer, the reigning U.S. Women’s Open champ, told GolfChannel.com almost three weeks ago that she wanted to see the charity donation match the purse. The original Founders Cup plans called for a $500,000 charity donation with tour pros playing for a $1.3 million mock purse. On Friday, Whan announced the charity would be doubled to $1 million with the purse adjusted to $1 million.
Though players still won't win real money, they aren't really playing for a mock purse anymore. The changes mean they're now playing for real prize money that's all being donated to charity. It's a distinction that's important to Creamer.
The LPGA will now donate $500,000 of the purse to LPGA-USGA Girls Golf and $500,000 to the designated charities of the top-10 finishers of the tournament.
Creamer, before boarding a flight to Thailand for next week's start of the LPGA, sent this e-mail in response to GolfChannel.com's request for her reaction to Whan's changes:
“I am very pleased to have learned of the significant changes to the inaugural RR Donnelley Founders Cup. As I have said all along, I have no issues playing for charity in 2011 in order to honor our founders, to help the future of the game, and to create another event to showcase the talents of the LPGA to a worldwide audience.
“I appreciate the RR Donnelley company’s amazing support. I have a strong belief and hope that this event will transition to a full-field regular event in future years, with the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf as our annual charitable component, much like what all of our other LPGA events do with their respective charities. I think it is important to grow our domestic schedule and to associate with a large prestigious company like RR Donnelley. Hopefully this is the beginning of a partnership that will last decades.
“I believe Commissioner Whan has shown his leadership abilities by listening to his players and implementing changes as a result. It would have been easy to just say `maybe next year.’ I know many players shared my concern that the purse and the charitable donation did not match. But now, with the purse being fully funded like all other events, and the entire $1,000,000 purse going to charity, I am in!!
“With $500,000 going to Girls Golf and another $500,000 being player directed, I have already received dozens of requests from charities to represent them in the RR Donnelley Founders Cup. All are great causes and I hope this RR Donnelley Founders Cup will bring more awareness not only to Girls Golf but also to the many very worthwhile charities that my fellow players are dedicated to helping day in and day out. My playing in the RR Donnelley Founders Cup will personally give me the opportunity to support and direct some of the $1,000,000 charity donation. Being able to hopefully positively impact people’s lives through the RR Donnelley Founders Cup is a very, very good feeling. I am looking forward to playing.”
Though tour pros will not collect checks, they aren't playing for imaginary money anymore. It's real money that's all being donated to charity. Pros will be credited with official money winnings, world ranking points, Rolex Player of the Year and other LPGA award points.
“I certainly could have done a better job of initially articulating the details to players and media, as that has led to some confusion about the tournament’s goals and objectives,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in announcing changes on Friday. 'We now look forward to a very unique tournament that will honor the LPGA’s founders, showcase and celebrate today’s LPGA players, and provide for the future of the game.”
The Founders Cup winner will have $200,000 donated to the charity of her choice. Another $300,000 will be dispersed to the charity choices of the other top-10 finishers.
Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell