Tulsa loses annual LPGA event that was sponsored by SemGroup
BY Staff Reports
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
11/18/08 at 3:09 PM
Complete coverage: Read all the stories and documents related to the SemGroup collapse.
The annual LPGA tour stop in Tulsa won't be back in 2009.
The tour that includes the highest level of women's professional golfers was forced to cancel its event in Tulsa after SemGroup -- the title sponsor -- filed for bankruptcy this year. No title sponsor could be found as a replacement during an economic downturn, according to a press release from Octagon, the organization that operates the event.
"The support of the Tulsa community has been tremendous throughout this process," said tournament director Doug Eibling, of Octagon, in a press release. "However, given our current economic climate, finding someone to commit the needed money has proven to be an extremely difficult task."
The LPGA had been making tour stops in Tulsa since 2001 and was scheduled to return the final week of May in 2009.
The event annually attracted the world's top players and had been expanding in recent years -- raising purses and increasing the number of championship rounds. But SemGroup's sudden collapse and eventual bankruptcy filing on July 17 left the golf tournament's future uncertain. Event organizers tried to find a title sponsor for months as the economy worsened.
It's possible the LPGA could return after 2009, Eibling said in the press release.
"While we are disappointed that we will not be on the LPGA's 2009 schedule, we continue to believe in Tulsa as a future home for professional golf tournaments," Eibling said. "It is a tremendously supportive market that has been a great hit with the LPGA and its players for the last eight years."
According to the press release, it's possible an LPGA pro-am or "special event" featuring LPGA players could be held in 2009 at Cedar Ridge Country Club in Broken Arrow, the host site of the tournament.
The event's first year in Tulsa was in 2001 at Tulsa Country Club. It stayed at the north Tulsa course until moving to Cedar Ridge in 2004.
The title sponsor from 2001-03 was Williams Cos. From 2003-06, John Q. Hammons Hotels was the title sponsor. SemGroup took over in 2007 and '08.
Tournament purses were $1 million annually from 2001-2006. But in 2007 -- SemGroup's first year -- the purse climbed to $1.4 million. And in 2008, the payout to players grew to $1.8 million.
Annika Sorenstam was a three-time winner. Paula Creamer was the 2008 winner and won an event-record $210,000. Previous winners received $150,000.
The tournament was a fall event from 2001-2006. In 2007 and 2008, it was played in May.
Former SemGroup CEO Tom Kivisto hands Paula Creamer the trophy after the LPGA SemGroup Championship at Cedar Ridge Country Club in August.