State of the LPGA Tour
With the recent announcement from the Lorena Ochoa Camp regarding the eventual retirement of the world's number one women's golfer, I cannot help but wonder what will be the future of the LPGA? Furthermore, how in the world will LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan keep us with what has become a Tour surrounded by uncertainty?
For all intents and purposes, the LPGA is simply a different professional organization from others in the mainstream. In fact, even comparing the LPGA to their male counterparts in either the PGA or Champions Tours would be unfair. Retirement is a completely different animal for the LPGA especially when considering the desire for many of the women athletes to take a break from the game to start a family. This was seen most clearly in the retirement of then-world number one Annika Sorenstam a few years ago.
While the official retirement announcement for Ochoa has yet to come, many fans and writers are playing a guessing game as to what her plans will be for the future. Will she desire to start a family with her new husband? Has married life and the need to adjust to her husband's past relationship (with whom he has three children) proven to be too much for Lorena to handle? Will she simply turn her attention towards other business interests while still considerably young (28 years old)?
Whatever the reason behind Ochoa's retirement, one thing is for certain: the LPGA is is a tough spot, and Commissioner Whan has his work cut out for him.
While there are plenty of big names left on the LPGA's roster, corporate sponsorship remains an issue for many tournament stops. Ochoa might not have played increadibly often on US soil, but she was a huge draw for many tournaments when she did make the trip. Commissioner Whan has been doing everything he can to shuffle around sponsors and tournament venues in an effort to right what is seen as a troubled ship, but losing popular names is not making things any easier.