Sympatico/MSN column: CN train prepared to leave LPGA behind?

My latest MSN/Sympatico column is now live — stemming from a tip I received that CN wasn’t altogether thrilled about the way it has been treated by the LPGA, which has a half dozen tournaments without sponsors. Can’t imagine they can afford to lose CN, but we’ll see…

Could the CN Canadian Women’s Open announced yesterday for Winnipeg in 2010 be the railway’s final as title sponsor?

On the surface, yesterday’s news appeared to be all positive, with Canadian National Railway and the Royal Canadian Golf Association slapping each other on the back for their selection of the host city and St. Charles Golf and Country Club as the course. But there’s an unstated problem with the tournament, and specifically with CN’s sponsorship, which expires after the Winnipeg event.
Let’s be clear “ CN has done everything right since taking over as title sponsor in 2006. At that point the tournament was on life support and would likely have been canceled had CN not anted up. Since then, the railway has given the event a shock and jolted it back to vibrancy, with great fields “ almost all of the Top 50 female professional golfers were in Ottawa last year “ and raised the purse to $2.75-million, the third largest on the LPGA tour. Golfers and spectators are clearly enamored of it “ so why doesn’t the tournament get more love from the LPGA?
While CN has resuscitated the event, the LPGA has done little to support it. The tournament’s date keeps moving around (it’ll be in September this year, while it was in Ottawa in August in 2008), it is not part of the LPGA’s television deal (CN, through the RCGA, will pay to have CBC to produce coverage this year and it will air on the Golf Channel in tape delay) and despite continued pleading, there seems little hope that it will receive its much coveted “major tournament” status that was stripped in 2001, following the departure of du Maurier as title sponsor.

To read the rest, stop by the Sympatico site here.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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