LPGA Shrinks Along With the Economy

The sport is also about to lose its biggest draw in Annika Sorenstam.

The U.S. LPGA Tour will offer three fewer official events in 2009 because of the global economic downturn.

"It's no secret that the road ahead, particularly 2009, is going to test our mettle," U.S. LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens said. She added that the tour was confronting challenges facing not only "other sports and entertainment organizations, but by every business enterprise of any kind in all corners around the world."

In recent weeks, the NBA has announced layoffs and the closing of its Los Angeles office, and several NASCAR teams have laid off staff to cut costs. Golf isn't immune, but Bivens predicted the U.S. LPGA would be "solidly profitable" in 2009.

"The state of the global economy and the economic crisis we're all facing has resulted in a slightly different tournament landscape," Bivens said. "It's not something that comes as a surprise."

Next year will be one of transition for the U.S. LPGA, which is about to lose its biggest draw in Annika Sorenstam, the 72-time winner who is "stepping away" from the game to pursue family and business interests after this week's ADT Championship.

The U.S. LPGA's existing television deals expire after 2009, making the task of filling schedules for 2010 and beyond even more daunting.

"I wish this economic downturn had waited one more year," Bivens said. "I wish we had one more year. But I'm grateful we had the past three."

(Hat tip: The Big Lead)

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