Ron Sirak just broke some bad news via his Twitter feed:
The Michelob ULTRA Open is out as an LPGA event. Won’t be on the 2010 schedule. Anheuser-Busch/InBev will remain official beer of the tour.
Notwithstanding this recent bad news, things have been looking brighter in the past few months. Sirak tweeted last week:
The renewal by the P&G Beauty gives the LPGA 17 tournaments for 2010. Things are looking better to get to 22 or more events for next year.
Over the past month the Tour has also renewed contracts to solidify the return of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, Wegmans LPGA and the State Farm LPGA Classic to the 2010 calendar.
Last week the LPGA announced it signed Rolex as the presenting sponsor at the prestigious Tour Championship in November. In past years the tournament was called the ADT Championship with the winner receiving a million-dollar purse. Last year Stanford Financial signed as the new sponsor, but in January 2009, Allen Stanford was accused of fraud and the company’s assets were frozen. In May the Tour said the tournament would still be held, but as the LPGA Tour Championship. Now, with Rolex on board, it’s definitely a boost.
The LPGA’s 2009 schedule consists of 27 tournaments, 7 fewer than last year. It is worrisome only 17 are confirmed for next year, and the loss of the Michelob ULTRA Open is a blow to the Tour’s already somewhat low morale. But on the upside, there are still about 10 contracts in negotiation.
Let’s look at it this way, though — the ladies can survive playing in fewer events for one season while the Tour rebuilds a full schedule for the following season. It’ll certainly be tough and a cause for concern, but the LPGA is a good, promising product and will get through these tough times and emerge stronger.