LPGA Tour loses another title sponsor

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The LPGA Tour lost another title sponsor Friday when ADT Security Services said it would not renew its contract after 2008 for the tour's season-ending event at Trump International.

The ADT Championship began in 2001 and transformed into one of the more compelling events on the LPGA Tour -- a 32-player field whittled down to eight for the final round where the winner received $1 million. It is the first event fully owned by the LPGA.

The company did not specifically state why it was not renewing its contract, only that its strategy is investing in growth areas of its business more closely aligned with its customers.

According to Golf World, the event is expected to return in the first quarter of 2010. The tournament is likely to retain its current limited-field, multiple-cut format, but be played at a venue to be determined and hopefully with a new sponsor.

"Part of our strategic plan targeted for 2010, with our TV contracts expiring in '09, is to have a season-opening event and a season-ending event," LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens told Golf World by telephone from Hawaii where the inaugural Kapalua LPGA Classic began Thursday.

Bivens said she was in discussions with several potential title sponsors and that the sponsor would likely impact where the event is played.

Sources familiar with the situation told Golf World the leading candidate for the new season-ending event was the Stanford International Pro-Am, which made its tour debut last April at the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club in Aventura, Fla.

Losing ADT was a blow to the LPGA Tour, which has already lost four title sponsors this year. The tour previously said one of its majors, the McDonald's LPGA Championship, would not have a title sponsor in 2010, and it has said it might fund the Phoenix event that lost its title when Safeway consolidated its LPGA sponsorship to one tournament.

"While we are disappointed that ADT won't title the event beyond 2008, we look forward to working with them to ensure the 2008 event is the most successful to date," Bivens said.

Bivens said the LPGA was discussing future sponsorship with several groups.

With the ADT Championship gone for 2009, the Ginn Tribute in Charleston, S.C., also out and the Fields Open in Hawaii and the Safeway International in Phoenix without sponsors, the LPGA appears as if it will fall short of the 33 tournaments it had this year.

"The best-case and worst-case scenarios are that we will be plus or minus two or three events next year," Bivens told the magazine. "The next 30 to 45 days is a critical time," she said, adding that she still expected to release the 2009 schedule a day or two before this year's ADT Championship, which begins Nov. 20.

"In this economy, until you have a signed contract nothing is buttoned up," she said.

In an Oct. 16 story on ESPN.com, The Associated Press reported erroneously that McDonald's would not be title sponsor of the LPGA Championship in 2009. McDonald's will no longer be the title sponsor starting in 2010. Also, the size of the season-ending ADT Championship is 32 players, not 30 players.

GolfWorld Executive Editor Ron Sirak contributed to this report.