A number of LPGA players might have run away with the LPGA Championships (nee The Wegman’s) this week at Monroe Golf Club. None has. In fact, come sundown today, there might not be a winner. In that case, perhaps the touring professionals might convince Mike Whan and the other powers-that-be that a return to Rochester, to Monroe, is inevitable in 2015.
If you’ve read coverage of this week’s event, from the New York Times to the Finger Lakes Times, you understand that the Rochester community is going through the same loss that Corning and Toledo and other locales have felt over the years. Like the PGA Tour before it, the LPGA Tour must grow or die. By growing, it lands events with big-pocket sponsors, sometimes in far-off places. The cultural make-up of the LPGA touring professionals has diversified at a much-quicker pace than its male counterpart, so the Daytona Beach-based organization must seek out sponsors and events in Malaysia, Korea and China in greater force.
That’s getting a bit ahead of ourselves. Rochester bids farewell to a 38-year love affair with the world’s best female golfers, 37 of them at Locust Hill country club. The event has crowned champions from among the greatest competitors to ever play the tour: Nancy Lopez, Patty Sheehan, Pat Bradley, Kathy Whitworth, Lorena Ochoa, Yani Tseng and Inbee Park. Known through the years as the Bankers Trust, the Sarah Coventry and the Rochester International, Wegman’s took over as title sponsor in 1998. In 2010, the event was played as a major for the first time, the eponymous championship of the LPGA.
In 2015, the event reinvents itself as the Women’s PGA Championship, under the auspices of the LPGA Tour and the PGA of America. It will be played at Westchester country club, a Walter Travis-design that has hosted numerous PGA Tour events through the years. It will be sponsored by KPMG and will travel the country (and perhaps the world!) Here’s hoping that another sponsor, or an amalgamation of organizations, can find the wherewithal to step forward and bring the LPGA back to Rochester.
Thanks to the Alex Fisher of Alex Fisher Photo for the photographs