LPGA focuses on Open

Officials, players avoid talk of rift over leader, tour woes

The Associated PressJuly 8, 2009 

LPGA officials and players want to concentrate on this week's U.S. Women's Open instead of reports that some of the tour's top players want commissioner Carolyn Bivens to resign.

LPGA spokesman David Higdon declined to comment Tuesday on reports that more than a dozen players sent a letter to the LPGA Tour's board urging Bivens to step down, telling The Associated Press in an e-mail he couldn't comment on internal matters.

Higdon said the tour is focused "first and foremost" this week on the Open at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa. But Higdon said the tour and its board take seriously any topic raised by the players.

Former Women's Open champion Cristie Kerr read a statement asking the media to restrict its questions to the event, golf -- and her wine making.

On Monday, Golfweek Magazine reported that key players said in the letter that the tour's woes cannot be blamed on a poor economy and that the LPGA needs a new leader to rebuild relationships with sponsors.

The LPGA has lost seven tournaments since 2007.

"There are always differences of opinion on business matters, and as they arise, we resolve them as best we can in order to further the business of the LPGA," Higdon said.

Because Kerr doesn't hold an official position with the players' organization, she said she couldn't speak on LPGA operations. She did point out that the players' organization is focused on how the dismal economy is affecting the tour.

The players are working with tour officials to create the best possible product for tour partners and fans, said Kerr, who never was asked about her wine making.

Defending champion Inbee Park sidestepped the issue of LPGA infighting, citing respect for the USGA event.

Olazabal pins Open hopes on Scottish event: Jose Maria Olazabal's only remaining chance of qualifying for the British Open is by securing one of the exempt spots available through the Scottish Open later this week in Troon, Scotland.

The two-time Masters champion missed out Tuesday on one of the four places available at the 288-man British Open qualifying event at Kilmarnock Barassie, Scotland. The 43-year-old Spaniard shot par 73 to put him seven strokes back. He bogeyed the long first hole and blasted a drive out of bounds at the third to run up a triple-bogey seven.

Lloyd and Elliot Saltman became the first brothers since Seve and Manuel Ballesteros 26 years ago to qualify for the British Open, which starts next week at Turnberry in Scotland.

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