Players admit that almost a “full round” might consider a LIV-like jump

BETHESDA, Maryland – Christie’s describes the refurbished Congressional Blue Subject as the most effective it is ever performed. As LPGA gamers drive courtesy Cadillacs this week, dine at a mega membership—full with sugar cookies within the form of the Washington Monument—and vie for a $9 million purse, double final yr’s KPMG Ladies’s, Stacey Lewis has a message: In our historical past within the LPGA, that is removed from regular.”

The LPGA was in grave hazard when Lewis joined over twelve years in the past. There have been 23 occasions on the schedule, about half of which have been exterior.

“This present group of gamers, I do not suppose they totally understand how fortunate we’re with the alternatives we’ve got,” stated Lewis. “I imply, they have been anticipating them for the final 4 or 5 years, that establishing this week is regular.”

Kathryn Kirk, one in every of a handful of gamers over the age of 40 who usually compete within the LPGA, is anxious concerning the “entitlement scenario” that permeates the tour. It appears to be like at what the LPGA founders themselves did within the Nineteen Fifties to launch this tour — promotions, course setup, provisions, advertising and marketing — and holds a deep appreciation.

“In comparison with that, we’ve got an ease,” she stated. “We simply rise to the championships.”

On the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX, LPGA commissioner Molly Marco Semaan stated the LPGA’s whole portfolio in 1972 was $972,000. This week’s winner will obtain $1,350,000.

“Very noticeable progress,” stated Marco Semaan. “And even in 2021, I feel our portfolios have been simply over $70 million, and now, to be in 2022, over $97 million is absolutely wonderful.”

In fact, cash is the speak of the sport now. With 156 girls celebrating the second largest purse in tour historical past this week, PGA Tour stars are leaving their already profitable tour for staggering quantities of cash assured on the Saudi-backed LIV Golf. The unending cycle of Saudi information engulfs the headlines within the girls’s recreation – even within the main tournaments.

When requested if she was involved {that a} related Saudi-backed risk may come to the LPGA, Marcoux Samaan stated, “Hear, we get up on daily basis making an attempt to make the LPGA the chief in girls’s golf and make it the most effective tour ever. That is what we give attention to. We now have a quantity Nice employees. We now have nice companions. We now have the most effective gamers on the planet. We’re actually doubling down on what we’re doing.”

As for Leaf Golf’s ambitions within the girls’s recreation, CEO Greg Norman lately for the BBC“We’re right here to develop golf on a world foundation, not simply in a single particular sector, which is the boys’s sector. It’s throughout the board.”

One week after the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Sequence was held on the Centurion Membership, the London Aramco Group Sequence introduced by the Public Funding Fund was held on the identical course.

The Saudi-backed Aramco collection is a part of the Ladies’s European Tour, which falls beneath the LPGA umbrella.

Throughout a pre-tournament press convention in London, Saudi golf ambassador Bronte Low hailed Lyn Grant’s groundbreaking victory on the DP World Tour – the place the Swede beat a males’s and ladies’s discipline by 9 strokes – and pushed for extra blended occasions.

“One of the best instance is tennis,” Lu stated. Why do males receives a commission greater than we do? The reason being that they play on the identical web site and get the identical media protection.

“So if we will play in the identical event, get the identical TV protection, there is no motive to not improve our baggage.”

With Golf Saudi already investing in girls’s golf, Many surprise what may come subsequent. May it’s Low’s name for extra blended occasions or simultaneous occasions involving women and men already working at Golf Saudi? And if that’s the case, what number of gamers would go away for an opportunity to win extra money?

“Put it like this, I feel you may see virtually your complete tour do it right here,” Kerr stated. “What we’re taking part in for right here in comparison with the boys’s tour, the size is totally different.

“However on the identical time, KPMG raised its portfolio to $9 million. We’re beginning to see the rising tide raise all of the ships. … It is going to be attention-grabbing to see how that impacts this tour.”

LPGA participant Sarah Kemp should compete in a minimal variety of LET occasions every season to keep up her membership in Europe, and touring to New York for the Aramco Group Sequence occasion later this yr can be very handy. However Kemp doesn’t like that the cash for this occasion comes from the federal government of Saudi Arabia.

Nonetheless, she understands that ladies who compete in LET full-time haven’t any selection however to compete within the six Saudi-backed occasions, noting that budgets are so tight in that spherical, one participant drove an Amazon truck through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It will be nice to have just a few KPMGs on the planet,” Kemp stated, “just a few CMEs who wish to help girls’s golf.”

They love the concept of ​​the stress and momentum within the recreation’s progress, and what it is doing to drive consideration and consciousness of the worth of the product, KPMG US Vice President and COO Laura Neuinsky stated Tuesday. The USGA set a brand new benchmark with a $10 million purse at this yr’s US Ladies’s Open. Every LPGA main has raised its portfolio considerably lately.

“As a sponsor, this isn’t a contest,” Neuinsky stated. “It is coming alongside, and let’s get proper into the sport as to what we put in it.”

If LIV creates one thing new in girls’s golf, Gaby Lopez thinks it can more than likely keep within the LPGA.

“Only for my core values,” she stated. “I do not actually play for cash. I actually play to win trophies. For me, it is extra vital.”

However she will see others see her otherwise.

“I feel plenty of guys will give it some thought as a result of there are plenty of women struggling, even on the sponsor facet,” Lopez stated. “I would not be stunned if the women left this tour.”

When Kirk thinks of the potential for Saudi cash to threaten the LPGA, she thinks not simply of the tour itself, however of the LPGA’s educating division and the LPGA-USGA Women Golf program that has exploded lately. What’s the destiny of those?

“I simply hope the gamers perceive the implications of choices that do not simply have an effect on you,” Kirk stated. “It impacts future generations.”