LAST WEEK marked a new era for the LPGA when it announced that, beginning in 2010, it will own and operate the LPGA Championship. (The LPGA also owns the ADT Championship and the Solheim Cup when it's held in the U.S.) I applaud the LPGA for taking control of its own championship, although even commissioner Carolyn Bivens (left) acknowledges that it's a "high risk and high reward" move. The risk involves no longer having a corporate name in the title. The LPGA hopes to have a presenting sponsor for the event, but that may be hard to come by. Since 1981, the McDonald's event has raised more than $46 million for charity. But the tour's new business plan imposes higher sanctioning fees and a general rise in the cost of tournament operations, which cuts into the amount a tournament can give to charity. Some events have seen a drop of $500,000 annually. That makes it hard to court sponsors, since kicking over all those corporate dollars is tougher to justify when there's a dwindling charitable component. The reward is that it gives the LPGA greater leverage as it enters TV negotiations and could provide an opportunity for the tour to contribute a significant amount to the meager player pension plan, and that would be huge for the players.
KENNY PERRY's decision to skip the U.S. Open has caused quite a stir. He doesn't like Torrey Pines or play well there, so he structured his June schedule around events in which he has a great track record, including the Memorial and Hartford. He longs to play in the Ryder Cup, which will be contested at Valhalla in Louisville, 130 miles from his home in Franklin, Ky. Good for Kenny (right) for keeping his eye on the goal that's most important to him. I always dreamed of winning an Open, but sometimes you just know when you don't have a chance. The 1998 U.S. Women's Open was played at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis., and I hated the course from my first practice round. Despite that, I was in the hunt until the final nine and ultimately finished 11th. I vowed never to return. The Open is returning to Blackwolf Run in 2012, and I've already taken some needling from friends at the USGA about coming out of retirement for it. No way! So I'll miss Kenny at Torrey Pines, but I feel his pain and support his decision.
Dottie Pepper, a 17-year LPGA vet and analyst for NBC and Golf Channel, welcomes letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DAVID CANNON/GETTY IMAGES (BIVENS)
FRED VUICH (PERRY)