The Back 9: LPGA Kicks Off 2011 in ThailandWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
The PGA and Champions Tour started their 2011 seasons in January in warm sunny Hawaii. The ladies of the LPGA Tour are glad to finally get to tee it up even if it is late February and they are in Asia. With five of the top 10 Rolex Ranked women golfers in the world and 35 of the top 100 being Korean it makes a logical place to start.
Yani Tseng is No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings and she continued her domination of women’s golf beating Michelle Wi by 5 shots to win the Honda LPGA Thailand. In 2010 Tseng had 3 wins, 8 top ten finishes, and earned over $1.4 million, including a major title from the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
The ladies will stay in Asia and move to Singapore for the second event of the season. The LPGA Tour definitely has an international flavor in 2011 with 13 of 25 tournaments being held outside the United States. Their new motto should be “Join the LPGA Tour and see the World”. The tour makes stops in France, Ireland, Scotland, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and China. Can you say frequent flier miles? I hope no one loses their passport. The first tournament of the year was slated to be held in Mexico but had to be canceled due to the instability of the region where the event was to be held.
The regular Jamie Farr Classic normally held in Toledo over the July 4th weekend will not be held in 2011 due to the Champions Tour Senior Open coming to Inverness. The Farr will return to Highland Meadows Country Club for the 2012 season.
The LPGA finally hits U. S. soil with three tournaments in March, with one in Scottsdale, Arizona and two in California. The first major of the year the Kraft Nabisco Championship will be held at Rancho Mirage, California, March 3 through April 3..
LPGA Tour Commissioner Michael Whan has improved relationships with tournament sponsors and with the economy beginning to turn around can look to increase the number of tournaments available for LPGA players and increase the size of purses.
It is great that the LPGA is so widely recognized around the world but one would think that there are more mid-size markets around like Toledo that could use an LPGA Tournament to energize the community and pump dollars into the local retail establishment. If the LPGA could develop a true home grown super star like say a Michelle Wi, Cristie Kerr, or Paula Creamer, it probably would be more palatable to the American golfing public and corporate sponsorship dollars would follow. Currently the only American born players in the top ten in the Rolex World Rankings are Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer.