LPGA Won't Stop In Tulsa In 2009

Tuesday, November 18th 2008, 4:40 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, News On 6

UNDATED -- Organizers of the LPGA tour stop in Green Country are cancelling the 2009 event. The golf tournament has been a huge success over the years.

It's all tied to losing SemGroup as a corporate sponsor and now the tough economy.

For eight straight years the LPGA has held a professional golf tour stop in the Tulsa area, drawing the nation's top women golfers.

"We've been blessed with wonderful champions, great crowds, great support.  It's been a fantastic event," said Tournament Director Doug Eibling.

Last year's purse was $1.8 million, putting it in the LPGA's top tier of tournaments. But there won't be a 9th straight event.

"It was a wonderful, great tour stop and highly successful so it is definitely a loss for Tulsa," said Eibling.

The tournament's director says the event lost its title sponsor, SemGroup, which is in bankruptcy. And in today's difficult economy, the tournament wasn't able to find a replacement sponsor which is generally about a $3 million commitment.

"Looking for a multi-million dollar sponsorship of a golf tournament is tough in any economic condition, and right now it's just a really, really challenging time to ask for that kind of investment," said Eibling.

So the event, which would have been held in May at Cedar Ridge, is canceled.

Not only is it a disappointment for golf fans, it's a loss for the Tulsa area economy.  It brings in an estimated 10 to 12 million dollars over the seven day run of the tournament.

Though disappointed, organizers say they have no choice but to hope the economy rebounds and work to get a sponsor for 2010.

How confident are they that the event will return for 2010?

"Given the feedback, the support, the questions, the conversations we had throughout this process in the community, I would say that we're optimistic," said Eibling.

Despite the loss of the LPGA tournament for next year, the area won't be without great golf. The U.S. Amateur tournament will be held next August at Southern Hills.