LPGA Players Call For Commissioner To Step Down

Mutinies are historically associated with pirates and sea-faring ships. They are not, usually, associated with putters and professional sports. However, that’s exactly what has transpired this week as a number of LPGA players have called for, and possibly received, the resignation of LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens.

In the same week as the biggest event event on the women’s golf calender, the U.S Women’s Open, several of the game’s biggest names, led by Suzanne Pettersen, have gone out of their way to call for Biven’s resignation, sending an open letter to the LPGA board asking for a change in personnel at the very top of their organization. It was reported earlier in the week by Golfweek that a meeting of several high profile players, including world number one Lorena Ochoa, Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr met for dinner earlier in the week to discuss the current state of the tour. Out of that dinner came the letter signed by 13 players asking for Biven’s resignation. Creamer is so far the only other to admit signing the letter.

“All we are doing is standing up for our tour,” Pettersen said July 7 from Saucon Valley Country Club, site of the 2009 U.S Women’s Open. “Now it’s up to our leadership and our board to find a solution.”

Bivens, and the tour board itself, have been under fire in recent months, as the tour struggles to secure sponsorship and events for 2010. At the present time the LPGA Tour has only ten events on its schedule for next season. Since 2007 the tour has lost seven events, three of which were held at the beginning of the season in Hawaii. Six other events are currently without a sponsor including one of the tour’s biggest events in China.

Bivens, who took over as LPGA Tour commissioner in 2005, now has her future as head of the tour in question, and it is still unclear as to her fate. Yesterday Golfweek reported that sources close to the Tour have confirmed that Bivens will not have her contract honoured for her final two years in office. The article went onto report that the LPGA board of directors has been meeting “behind closed doors” all week to discuss the future of the Tour and the (reportedly) vacant commissioner position. Bivens has not commented on the alleged ousting and the Tour itself has been reluctant to comment as well. No official announcement has been made and Bivens herself has yet to comment.

“Carolyn has not resigned,’’ David Higdon, the LPGA’s chief of communications said in a short email to Golfweek earlier in the week.

However, Sporting Business Daily, working with anonymous sources, has learned that Bivens has agreed to a buyout on her contract to the tune of $500,000 per year for the two years she has left on her contract. The article went onto say that the board as already organized a golf industry insider to interview potential replacements for Bivens.

“(Bivens) stepped on some toes and hurt some feelings…there were a lot of things for her to overcome.” Golf Channel’s Charlie Rymer said yesterday in a report on Bivens.  “The LPGA needs to get on the same page because being fractured in today’s business society is too much of a challenge. Whoever comes into this position, they have to get moving and get things done quickly.”

While the biggest event of the year continues today in Pennsylvania, the headlines continue to be dominated by the fate of the Tour’s leadership.

“Patience is the No. 1 thing you have to have this week,” Ochoa said of the U.S Women’s Open. She could just have easily been talking about the Tour itself.

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