Last Thursday a dozen or so top players convened for dinner, and it was LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens who got roasted, as the players aired their various grievances about her leadership. If she can’t win back her most important constituents, Bivens’s days as commish could be numbered.
The dinner took place in Sylvania, Ohio, site of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, a day after word spread that the Kapalua Classic, scheduled for Oct. 10-15, had been canceled because the title sponsor pulled out, and that the LPGA may have as few as 10 U.S.-based events in 2010.
Sources close to the LPGA who were not at the dinner indicated that the conversation resulted in a letter to LPGA president Michelle Ellis expressing a loss of faith in Bivens’s leadership and policies.
“I heard something along those lines, about a meeting,” Ellis told SI, “but I haven’t received any such letter. If the [LPGA] board [of directors] received such a letter, they would certainly discuss it, but I can’t say anything about it because I haven’t seen any letter.”
Player director Juli Inkster, who was at the dinner, also said that as far as she knew no letter had come out of the meeting. But Golfweek reported on Monday that a letter was sent to the LPGA Board of Directors, and that it called for Bivens to resign. Golfweek also said that Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Morgan Pressel and Natalie Gulbis attended the meeting.
Inkster told SI that the dinner “was kind of a personal talk about where we need to go and what we can do. As far as who was there and who said what, I can’t get into that.”
Whatever the details, it’s clear that as sponsorship dollars dry up and tournaments keep disappearing, the stress level is rising among players, if not among the LPGA board. Ellis said that the board maintains its support of Bivens and that it has not yet considered the state of the 2010 schedule. “Right now,” she said, “we’re just focused on getting through ’09 and working on renewals.”