Lincicome tees off on the 14th hole during the final round
of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament, at Saucon Valley
Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa.
As the LPGA Tour
searches for a new commissioner, Brittany Lincicome summed up the
challenge her sport faces in a dismal economy.
tournaments," said Lincicome, who won April's Kraft Nabisco
Championship. "Even if we're playing for half the purses."
resigned under pressure as LPGA commissioner this week, and Marsha
Evans took over as an interim replacement. The tour's board of
directors hopes to find a full-time commissioner by the end of the
Bivens was no
stranger to controversy — she was criticized last year when she
proposed an English-only policy for tour players. Now, the LPGA's
schedule is everyone's big concern. The number of official money
events dropped from 34 in 2008 to 28 this year.
"The economy was
not helping Carolyn at all," Lincicome said.
Bivens' tenure ended
after a group of players wrote a letter to the board calling for her
"I believe 100
percent she had our best interests in hand," said Nicole
Castrale, a 2007 Solheim Cup participant. "I believe that
everyone involved just wants the best for our tour. ... I just think
that it became alarming to the players that we were losing events so
When Lincicome won
the Kraft Nabisco Championship this year, the winner's share was
$300,000 — double what it was at that tournament 10 years ago.
That's a sign of progress, but Lincicome said she's not the only
player who would be open to playing for less money — in the short
term, at least — if it would help save events.
The average purse per
event this year is $1.78 million, up from $1.31 million in 2004.
The tour says it has
13 events committed for 2010, including two that weren't on this
year's schedule. The LPGA also says discussions are ongoing with 15
events from the 2009 schedule.
Still, McDonald's is
no longer sponsoring the LPGA Championship, and Paula Creamer
expressed concern last month about not knowing where the major would
be next year.
Creamer, who is
eighth on this year's money list, said in an e-mail this week it's
important to strengthen relationships with sponsors.
"Over the past
five years, I've learned that there are many different priorities,
goals and expectations of our various sponsors. Charity giving at
the end of the week is very important to many tournament owners and
sponsors that have been with us for decades," Creamer said.
"Other events have unique mission statements and objectives
which are equally as important to them as well. Community pride,
exposure, economic stimulation are just a few others."
Two-time U.S. Women's
Open champion Meg Mallon called the LPGA "the best bargain in
sports," but she's still cognizant of the financial concerns
sports, especially golf, is a luxury. You don't underestimate that
when businesses are looking at us," Mallon said last week.
"I think the players are very concerned about their future, and
I'm proud of them stepping up and taking an active role because this
tour has always been motivated by the players, run by the players.
When players take an interest, good things happen."
Lincicome said she
hopes the full-time commissioner will come from a golf background.
Evans, a retired rear admiral in the Navy, began serving on the LPGA
board just this year. She was on an LPGA commissioner's advisory
council in 2007 and 2008.
For now, she'll try
to reach out to players and secure tournaments despite the economic
will command respect," Castrale said. "I know the economy
is in a tough position right now. ... When it's all said and done,
the sponsors see what we bring to events as players."