In noting the sponsor loss at the seemingly healthy Safeway LPGA event in Phoenix, Bill Huffman says it's time to get "a little bit scared" if you're, say, The Brand Lady.
Four tournaments into the 2008 season and already two of those four events are on the endangered list and need sponsors if they are to return in 2009.
For those keeping track, the Fields Open in Hawaii — the second tournament of the season won by Paula Creamer — reportedly is not only searching for a new title sponsor, it also needs a new course to host the tournament.
Closer to home, the Safeway International announced last week that its title sponsor — America’s third-largest grocery store chain — is bagging it after next week’s tournament at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club, which is willing to hang around if a new sponsor can be secured.
The Safeway International had made record-breaking crowds on the LPGA its calling card, much like its big brother, the FBR Open, does on the PGA Tour. Granted, the numbers were dramatically smaller, but 151,000 fans came out last year to watch Lorena Ochoa win the tournament, and that’s about double the average galleries on the LPGA.
What sponsor would walk away from a tournament that has produced champions like Annika Sorenstam, Cristie Kerr and Ochoa in the past four years, all the while attracting record crowds? And what about Superstition Mountain, voted as the “best-conditioned course on the LPGA’’ the past three years by the players?
Speaking of the Safeway, reader Phil noted that the reason for Michelle Wie's latest WD is going to prompt more questions.
Wie's agent, Jill Smoller of the William Morris Agency, said the Stanford freshman reinjured her left wrist when she accidentally hit a ball that was embedded in thick rough on the driving range at Stanford on March 13.
Thick rough on the range?