Friday, August 8, 2008
Sponsorship woes knock Ginn Tribute off LPGA schedule
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- South Carolina has lost another LPGA event.
The organizers of the LPGA's Ginn Tribute hosted by Annika Sorenstam announced Friday they couldn't obtain the sponsorships needed to keep the tournament through 2010.
Ginn Companies chairman Bobby Ginn blamed a faltering economy and less corporate funds for the demise of the tournament at RiverTowne Country Club.
"The golf tournament business is primarily fueled by economic support," Ginn said in a statement. "We did everything in our power to generate the sponsorship necessary to continue with the Ginn Tribute, but given the current market and corresponding cuts in corporate spending, it was an uphill battle."
The event was hosted by the retiring Hall of Famer Sorenstam. It paid out $2.6 million this year, which tied for third-highest purse on the LPGA Tour. Winner Seon Hwa Lee earned $390,000 in prize money in June, and Nicole Castrale won the inaugural event in 2007.
While South Carolina is a golf destination -- the PGA Tour stops every year on Hilton Head Island for the Verizon Heritage and The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island hosted last year's Senior PGA Championship -- the LGPA Tour has struggled to find a footing. Tournaments in North Augusta, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island have all come and gone.
However, LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens said she doesn't believe women's golf is finished in South Carolina.
"We also appreciate all of the fan support that the LPGA received in Charleston and from throughout South Carolina, and look forward to returning to the South Carolina market in the future," Bivens said in a statement.
Ginn Resorts will continue to sponsor the LPGA Tour's Ginn Open near Orlando, Fla.