LPGA Makes Splash In Green Country

Sunday, May 4th 2008, 10:25 pm
By: News On 6

The future of the LPGA was in Green Country this weekend. A fantastic finish at the SemGroup Championship on Sunday wrapped up another successful tour stop, but what's in the tournament's future?

The News On 6's Dan Bewley reports the president of SemGroup says they definitely plan to sponsor it again next year and there's a good chance the tournament could be moved to the first week of June. He says all you have to do to find the reason why is check out the gallery.

A sun-splashed Sunday was a fitting end to the LPGA tour stop in Green Country.

"It's a terrific week. Tulsa is a very warm place for us to come to," said Doug Brecht of the LPGA.

The best in women's professional golf spent the past four days swinging up and down Cedar Ridge Country Club. For the second straight year SemGroup was the lead sponsor, CEO Tom Kivisto.

"We know, of all the professional events out there, the LPGA is definitely one of the events that is significantly growing from year to year," said SemGroup CEO Tom Kivisto.

Kivisto touts the family-friendly nature of the LPGA. A distinction that's not lost on dads.

"It seems like you get closer to the players," said Sapulpa resident Johnny Bennett.

Or Bennett's 7-year-old daughter, who's learning the finer points of the game.

"Looking for when they hit the ball, if it's straight, and it goes in the hole," said 7- year-old Camree Bennett.

Official attendance numbers won't be tallied for several days. But Kivisto says moving the tournament from three days to four has made a big impact, expectations for hovered around 90,000 fans over the course of the tournament.

"Yesterday, it wasn't even a final day, there were 2,000 people following Paula Creamer. There were probably just under that following Lorena Ochoa, and today that crowd is probably bigger than that. So we have probably by two or three times surpassed last year's accounts," said Kivisto.

The Tulsa Chamber of Commerce estimates the tourney drops close to $12 million into the local economy. Many fans say the $20 daily ticket makes it a great deal and perfect for a family outing as the younger generation is exposed to new group of role models. Kenzie Wilson is a golfer herself and loves being around the pros.

"Just not as good as them, but I will be," said the 12-year-old Wilson.

Kivisto says one way for the tournament to make a bigger splash on the LPGA tour is to increase the $1.8 million purse. He says to do that it's important more sponsors step forward, and, yes, SemGroup plans to be back next year.