Sponsors lacking for local LPGA tourneys
By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
Hawai'i will be home to the revived LPGA Skins Game in 2003, but that January appearance might be it for the women pros for the year.
The tour, in conjunction with ESPN and ConAgra Foods, announced the revival of the LPGA Skins Game last week. It will be played Jan. 26 at Wailea's Gold Course. Rob Neal, the LPGA's Vice President of Tournament Business Affairs, said his organization is still working on its 2003 schedule, but "there is a possibility that the Skins Game will be our only Hawai'i event next year."
Neal went on to say that "Waikoloa and another property" are interested in hosting an LPGA event, "but we have not secured sponsorship for either one yet."
"Even if we do not have events in addition to the Skins Game in Hawai'i next year," Neal added, "we will continue to pursue quality opportunities there for 2004 and beyond."
The association has said that ideally it would like to open its season with two Hawai'i events.
There have been full-field LPGA tournaments here since the Women's Kemper Open came to Maui in 1982. The advent of the Hawaiian Ladies Open on O'ahu in 1987 gave the Islands two tournaments annually, along with assorted exhibitions.
Kemper played its final event in 1992 at Wailea. The LPGA again acquired a second Hawai'i event in 2000, with the Takefuji Classic on the Big Island. Last year the number dropped back to one when no title sponsor could be found for the Hawaiian Ladies Open.
Karrie Webb and Lorie Kane won the first two Takefuji events at Kona Country Club. The third, won by Annika Sorenstam, was played last February at Waikoloa Beach to open the LPGA season.
Waikoloa Director of Golf Dave Pritchett said the resort offered to host the tournament again, with another title sponsor. So far, that sponsor has not been found.
Kapolei, home of the Hawaiian Ladies Open its final six years, and Ko Olina, its home from 1990-95, are also interested in bringing the LPGA back. But again, no title sponsor has come forward.