Tuesday, January 22, 2008

LPGA Once Every Four Rule Modified

I received an email the other day from a reader in upstate New York. The reader, a female high school golfer, was wondering why Lorena Ochoa was not playing in this year's LPGA Corning Classic when she has not played in the event since 2004. That's because the LPGA has a rule that declares that each player must play in each active event once within four years of their last appearance in the event. She wondered the same about Cristie Kerr, who did not appear in the event last season.

Reading her email, I was as confused as she as to why the world number one would not be in Corning this year. I had to dig up around Google, but I should have known that Canada's premier golf writer Robert Thompson had the information.

In an August 8, 2007 post, Thompson details the same frustration that the reader expressed but related to the CN Canadian Women's Open. Annika Sorenstam had not appeared in Canada since 2003 and was, therefore, scheduled to appear in the CWO. She did not, though. Normally she had the excuse of her event in Sweden on the LET as a conflict. In 2007, that was not the case. So why the no show? Thompson with the skinny:

Well, according to Sean VanKesteren, the tournament director for the RCGA, the LPGA now has a rule that allows players to skip one tournament per year from the four year rule. That sort of ends one of the best elements of the LPGA Tour — and I don’t think the tour has made it well known. So Sorenstam has used the rule to skip the Canadian Women’s Open.
It is a disappointing rule change and one that was not clearly published by the LPGA. Of course it wasn't published because this exemption, like Thompson said, ruins one of the best components of the LPGA Tour. It is often cited as exactly what the PGA Tour should do in order to encourage the health of lesser events on Tour. It is now ruined, though.

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