BETHLEHEM, Pa.(AP) The dispute between a faction of LPGA players and the commissioner could be resolved this week, and the tour’s Board of Directors will look for an interim replacement while searching for a new commissioner, tour veteran and board member Juli Inkster said Sunday.
Inkster, one of 10 LPGA player directors, was part of a players’ meeting last week that penned a letter to the LPGA Tour’s board calling for LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens to resign.
“I expect it to be resolved this week and then move on,” Inkster said Sunday after her final round of the U.S. Women’s Open at Saucon Valley Country Club.
Inkster didn’t say how or when the conflict might be resolved or identify any candidates for the interim or eventual commissioner’s position.
The New York Times, citing sources, has reported that Bivens will step down after the Open concludes. Golf Digest had previously reported that Bivens would be replaced, as soon as this week, and cited sources who said the letter from the players was the final blow.
The dispute dominated headlines early in the biggest week in women’s golf. Inkster said she was on conference calls all but one day during the week. Most players sidestepped questions about the conflict to concentrate on the championship, but Inkster opened up when her round was over.
“I think Carolyn has done a lot of great things for our tour and I think she worked really hard,” Inkster said. “But some of the things she tried just didn’t work.
“Whether it’s her fault or not, it just wasn’t working.”
Golfweek Magazine first reported that more than a dozen key players signed a letter saying 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 tour has lost seven tournaments since 2007.
“We’re a global tour,” Inkster said. “I’d really like to see us get back to playing more tournaments here in the United States and then go overseas.
There have been a number of controversies during Bivens’ four-year tenure.
In 2008, she proposed an English-only policy for tour players, but it was never instituted. The LPGA includes 121 international players from 26 countries, including 45 from South Korea.
In October 2006, she was accused by officials of the now-defunct tour event near Atlantic City, N.J., of backing out on a promise to maintain a longtime event.
Inkster said Bivens’ approach was trying to dictate the way things would be done, and she said a softer approach might have worked better.
“I think Carolyn got a bum rap right away because she was a woman in a man’s world,” Inkster said. “I don’t think she got respect back.”
Inkster said it’s important for the board to find the right person to lead the tour into the future. In the short term, the need is immediate.
“Right now, we’re in the middle of the season,” Inkster said. “We’re looking for someone for four, five months, three or four months, to just right the ship, get us going in the right direction: straight ahead.”
Inkster said the board plans on taking its time to find a new commissioner.
“Right now, we want to take our time and find the right person for the job,” she said. “And you can’t do that on a whim.”