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The Other Fifth Major


1 While the PGA Tour held the best of its nonmajors, the LPGA did the same, teeing it up at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., for the Michelob Ultra Open, which Cristie Kerr (right) won by two shots with a 16-under 268. But a big part of the Michelob's appeal—its $2.2 million purse, one of the largest on the LPGA tour—may also be the event's undoing, as Anheuser-Busch, which was bought by the Belgian company InBev last July, has not yet committed to sponsor the tournament beyond this year.

2 Trimming Down

As part of her long-term plan, commissioner Carolyn Bivens arranged for many of the tour's sponsorship contracts to expire in 2009, the same year the tour's TV deals ended. The idea was that once the tour had a better TV contract, it could negotiate more lucrative sponsorships. But even with new TV arrangements—a 10-year domestic contract with Golf Channel beginning in 2010, and a five-year pact with J Golf for Korean rights—the bad economy is making it tough merely to hold on to tournaments.


• Fields Open
• Ginn Open
• Ginn Tribute
• Corning Classic
• SemGroup Championship
• ADT Championship


• SBS Open
• HSBC Champions
• Stanford International
• Michelob Ultra Open
• Wegmans LPGA
• Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic
• State Farm Classic
• McDonald's LPGA Championship
• P&G Beauty NW Arkansas Championship

3 Bulking Up

Even as the LPGA struggles to secure some sponsorships, it has added or brought back a few events. And a little good fortune could be swinging the tour's way. As the economy begins to show signs of life (the fabled "green shoots"), the Michelob kicked off a string of four tournaments in five weeks that will be played in the continental U.S. and appear on national TV. They'll build up to the season's second major, the McDonald's LPGA Championship (June 11--14), and that run could allow the tour to generate the sort of momentum and visibility its international schedule has denied it so far in '09. Five of its first seven events (the exceptions: the J Golf Phoenix Open and the Kraft Nabisco) have been played outside the U.S. mainland and only two of those have been televised. Some great finishes and favorable winners could attract sponsors, and the tour is doing its part to seize the moment. Last week it hosted a summit with players to brainstorm ways to promote women's golf off the course. In the wake of that conclave, expect more fan outreach in the way of blogs, Twitter accounts, reality-TV experiments and autograph signings. Of course the consensus opinion on what would help the most can be boiled down to one sentence: Go, Michelle, go!


• Honda LPGA Thailand*
• J Golf L.A. event
• Season opening ADT replacement
• Bell Micro Classic**

*Returned in '09; skipped '08.
** Returns in '10; skipped '09.


Freddie On Board

Frederick Jacobson was chafed at the Players, but it wasn't about not being low Swede. On May 6 Jacobson and his caddie, Ron Levin, went surfing, but they didn't wear shirts, which left each with a board rash so severe that Levin worried Jacobson might not be able to play. Jacobson toughed it out, shooting a two-over 290 that left him 49th and raw.... Ten years after Payne Stewart won the U.S. Open his 20-year-old son, Aaron, a freshman on the SMU golf team, will attempt to qualify beginning May 21. "If I make it, a lot of stories will be written and a lot of people will be talking about him," Stewart says. "That would be great. I'm happy to continue the legacy." Jets fans everywhere can look forward to green-and-white plus fours.... Big week for Big John Daly (right). He tied for second in the Italian Open, his first top 10 since a second at the 2005 WGC-American Express. Maybe he felt comfortable in a country where the prime minister has more women troubles than he does.... The same week Annika Sorenstam released her new fragrance, Annika, her old rival Karrie Webb initiated a program, Karrie's FANtastic Freebies, in which she'll dig into her own pocket to give out 50 free tickets to struggling fans at seven LPGA events. Haven't gotten a whiff of Annika yet, but it's hard to imagine it came out smelling better than Webb.... As part of its 20th-anniversary celebration the Nationwide tour had a pre-Players reunion on Monday night. About 35 guys showed up to reminisce and chow burgers and dogs. Rumor had it that the top 25 eaters and ties graduate to steak in 2010.