LPGA Founders Cup creating an uneasy situation

By Randall MellJanuary 26, 2011, 4:11 am

LPGA Tour _newTwo top American players say they love the idea behind the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, but they aren’t certain they will play as they wrestle with concerns over how the new tournament is coming together.

Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr both told GolfChannel.com Tuesday that they want to honor the cause, but they have serious issues with how the inaugural Founders Cup was planned and is being structured.

The Founders Cup was created by LPGA commissioner Mike Whan to honor the pioneers who founded the tour and to fund the LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf Foundation. The event is scheduled March 18-20 in Phoenix as the first American event on this year’s schedule.

The unique tournament format will feature a $1.3 million “mock purse.” That money is all imaginary.

RR Donnelley isn't putting up the purse, but, instead, is paying tournament operational costs.

Though players will be credited for official money won, they won't actually pocket any real money. The winner will get credit for $195,000 in official money but receive no check. The same applies to every player who makes the cut. 

Tournament proceeds, projected to be $500,000, will be donated to the LPGA Foundation.

“I think it’s a great cause to honor the founders, I think it’s something we should have done a while ago, and I think it’s an important event, but I am just really struggling with the structure of it and the format,” said Creamer, the reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion.

Creamer said she has no problem donating an entire purse to the LPGA Foundation, but she has an issue with the “mock purse” not equaling the charitable donation while counting toward the money list.

“To have the purse be $1.3 million and the charity not get $1.3 million because it’s imaginary money, I’m having a difficult time with that,” Creamer said. “I don’t understand how a sponsor or company like RR Donnelley, a $10 billion company, can’t be on board to put up prize money equal to what’s given to the charity. I don’t understand how that can happen.

“If we were able to have $1.3 million in real money sitting there, and donate it back, I would be the first one to sign up for this event.”

LPGA officials say the 'mock purse' was set at a level equaling the smallest purses on tour.

While players won’t get paid, the tour will be issuing stipends to cover player and caddie expenses for the week.

Creamer, a First Tee ambassador supporting youth golf, said she has issues with the message the tour is sending to other loyal title sponsors, who put up real money every event.

Kerr, winner of last year’s LPGA Championship, has similar concerns.

“I’m not sure I’m going to play or not,” Kerr told GolfChannel.com via text message. “It’s a great idea but went from concept to an event on the schedule too quickly without enough input from the players.

“It’s turned what was an opportunity into an obligation.

“Credit is due to Mike [Whan] for his vision with this concept, and I am definitely a supporter for an idea like the Founders Cup. I’m an avid fundraiser for different charities, including my own, and I support the idea of helping youth golf and honoring our founders. However, I’m not sure this year’s format accomplishes the objective as outlined to me.”

Creamer said she also has concerns about how she sensed the plan was being pushed through.

“It just happened very fast in how it was put together,” Creamer said.

Whan couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon. When announcing the event, he told reporters he was pleased with the players'  overwhelming support of the idea.

According to tour officials, the LPGA already has commitments from Rolex No. 1 Jiyai Shin. Also committed are Na Yeon Choi, Ai Miyazato, Juli Inkster, Brittany Lincicome, Angela Stanford and Christina Kim.

Creamer, Kerr, Michelle Wie, Suzann Pettersen and Morgan Pressel are among players who have not yet committed. Players have until March 8 to commit.

Creamer said in doing her due diligence, she reached out to four of the five living LPGA founders to express her concerns. She said all four founders expressed concerns with elements of the event’s execution.

“I did talk to Paula, and I told Paula the only problem I see is the players won’t be getting any money,” said Marilynn Smith, one of the tour’s founders.

But Smith said she’s strongly behind the event, and that she left a message with Creamer Tuesday encouraging her to play. Whan said earlier this month that Smith cried when she thanked him in a voice mail for creating an event to honor the founders.

Creamer said she’s addressed her concerns with Whan and that she is waiting to learn more about how the tournament’s formation is progressing before committing to play.

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell
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Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below: