LPGA makes move out of Rochester official - The Buffalo News

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LPGA makes move out of Rochester official

Say goodbye to the Wegmans LPGA Championship – and Rochester – as a fixture on the top female golf tour in the world.

And say hello to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, beginning in 2015.

A joint announcement was made Thursday morning in New York City by KPMG, the PGA of America and the LPGA Tour, confirming what was reported earlier in the week – the 2014 Wegmans LPGA Championship at Monroe Golf Club will end a nearly 40-year run of Rochester hosting a tour event.

“We have known for a while in our negotiations with Wegmans that that tournament was going to need to make an adjustment. And credit to Wegmans, they gave us years to think about how to transition and it was really classy,” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said Thursday. “One thing that’s true in golf is change is tough. It creates some anxiety, but if you’re not willing to change, you’re the same tour as you were in 1950, and I’m not going to be the same tour in 2017 that we were in 2014. We are going to be bold enough to make changes that allow us to think really big.”

As part of that, beginning in 2015, the new tournament will begin to rotate courses, starting with Westchester Country Club in Rye. The purse will be $3.5 million – the highest in women’s golf – and a multifaceted program focused on the development, advancement and empowerment of women on and off the golf course will be created. The tournament, which currently airs only on Golf Channel, also will be shown on the weekend by NBC, reaching far more homes.

“This is a landmark moment for the PGA of America as we partner with KPMG and the LPGA to embrace an historic championship and focus on the advancement of women,” PGA of America President Ted Bishop said. “We look forward to teaming with the LPGA to make the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship the can’t-miss week for female leaders. We believe this championship ... will energize new audiences in our collective effort to grow the game.”

Wegmans became the title sponsor of the LPGA Tour stop in Rochester in 1997, thus saving the event at the time. Then in 2009, when the tour lost McDonald’s as the title sponsor of the LPGA Championship, Wegmans ponied up the money to become primary sponsor and brought the tournament to Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford.

Thursday’s announcement means the biggest annual sporting event in Rochester will be no more after this year.

In a letter signed by Wegmans Vice President Bill Strassburg, the company’s liaison to the tournament, co-chairmen Larry Kitts and Jerry Stahl, and tournament director Linda Hampton, the inevitability of Thursday’s announcement was made clear.

“In 2015, the LPGA Championship will command a much higher financial commitment from its title sponsor,” the letter reads. “That level of commitment can be justified by an organization, like KPMG, with international reach and a global promotional budget.”

The letter indicates Wegmans does not plan to sponsor future LPGA Tour events.

“Wegmans and the entire Rochester community will be sad to see the tournament move away,” the letter reads.

The final Wegmans LPGA Championship will be held Aug. 14-17 at Monroe.

“We are working on plans to make our final tournament in August a special celebration for the Rochester community,” Strassburg said.

email: jskurski@buffnews.com

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