September 14, 2011
The LPGA is taking center stage less than two weeks before the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle in Ireland. Unfortunately for tour commissioner Mike Whan, this is probably one of those times where he wishes the LPGA wasn't in the news.
While the tour plays out the final full-field event of the year -- the Navistar Classic -- Whan had to tell the players in the field, on Tuesday, that those with plane tickets to China for the Imperial Spring LPGA event -- scheduled to be played the week after the Solheim Cup -- would have to cancel their reservations.
Late Monday night, the tour received word from event officials that the tournament was canceled. "Blindsided by the news, the LPGA has exhausted all possibilities to carry on with the event as scheduled," the LPGA said Tuesday in a press release. "Players were notified today at a previously scheduled players' meeting held at the site of the Navistar LPGA Classic."
While it was a limited-field event, the late cancellation is extremely troubling, as Golf World's Ron Sirak noted, since the tour hasn't had 23 or fewer events since the 1971 season.
After pushing the event back from its original spot the week after the Ricoh Women's British Open, at the request of Imperial Springs developer Kingold Group, the tournament was finally slotted as the opening event of the Far East swing that was supposed to go through China, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Japan.
But that appears to no longer be the case. Officials in China gave no indication as to why the event was canceled, but considering how tight-lipped they've been since the event was moved, you have to imagine politics probably played a role in the decision to cancel the event.
With the loss of another tournament to an already thin schedule, you have to wonder what the next step will be for the LPGA. While the tour has tried its best to brand the LPGA as a world tour, the loss of a sponsor just weeks before the event could deter the tour from signing a similar agreement in the future.