Aug
11
2009
Another One Bites the Dust
By Stephanie Wei under General

Earlier this week the LPGA and IMG announced that the China tournament scheduled for October has been canceled. Now the Tour’s schedule only has 27 events for ‘09, 7 fewer than last year. Sigh. The bad news doesn’t seem to stop.

In ‘08 the tournament was the first ever played in China with Grand China Air being the title sponsor. Unfortunately, it sounds like the airline was shut down by its parent company, Hainan Airlines Group, at some point in the past year because of financial problems. (But in June it was relaunched.) IMG and the Tour couldn’t find a replacement backer.

Many of the LPGA’s sponsors have breached their contracts because of the economic downturn. Last month Kapalua withdrew from its 5-year contract for financial difficulties — SemGroup, Ginn Resorts and Stanford Financial gave similar reasons.

Given that China’s economy is doing better than the rest of the world, I’m surprised another sponsor didn’t step in. Also, golf is blowing up in China. I feel like another company would have been more than happy to take over.

PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem spoke on Sunday at Bridgestone about the WGC event in China.

China has such great potential for golf over the next generation, and we want to increase the speed at which that potential is generated…it’s just another step in the course of — on the one hand, China developing a golf infrastructure, on the other hand having world-class events that create interest, and the two have to dovetail to drive the growth of the game in China.

Yeah, the country has a lot of people. Look out for the Yao Ming of golf to come along — same goes for a female equivalent.

Perhaps it’s just that women’s golf doesn’t have the same appeal as men’s. And that’s a shame.

LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens was recently ousted. One of the primary reasons was because of her hardline negotiation tactics, which alienated some of the sponsors. So is this part of her legacy? Who is the scapegoat at fault? Or what?