It's still early, but it feels as if new boss Mike Whan has turned around the ailing LPGA tour. How? Plain talk, availability, energy (his staff calls him Flash) and history, both his own and the tour's. Check it out. After a long, successful stint at the PGA Tour, Jon Podany will become the LPGA's chief marketing officer. In 1983 Whan and Podany were walk-on freshman quarterbacks at Miami (Ohio), and both went on to work at Proctor and Gamble. Bill Susetka, who stepped down as the tour's chief marketing officer last May, was elected chairman of the board last week, and Kathy Milthorpe, the LPGA's highly respected CFO from 1999 to 2005, will return to that position on March 1. On the business front, Sybase has come back into the LPGA fold as a title sponsor (a match play event at Hamilton Farms in New Jersey), and Kia has signed on for a one-year title sponsorship of the new J Golf event at La Costa. Whan and the tour have dipped into the past, and the future already looks brighter.
• Who would have imagined the early-season buzz on the PGA Tour would be about a 20-year-old sand wedge? Or that Callaway would applaud Phil Mickelson(above) for playing a club made by a competing manufacturer? The Tour didn't educate and inform its members about the new groove rules with the care and detail it devoted to drug testing, and that came back to bite everyone. The USGA, PGA Tour and Ping should have gotten out front of this issue when the new rules were first discussed. Players even whispering the word cheating is damaging to the Tour and the game.
Dottie Pepper is a 17-year LPGA veteran and an analyst for NBC.
ROBERT BECK (PEPPER)
ROBERT BECK (MICKELSON)