In a sign of market value, CN paid less for its LPGA event than it had in the past. Note the purse for the event was cut from $2.75-million to $2.25-million. So figure CN bargained them down — and why not? It isn’t like the LPGA came at this one from a position of strength. And frankly all my sources say CN has been treated poorly considering they resurrected the Women’s Open franchise in Canada. The new head of the LPGA, Michael Whan, has done all the right things, and I guess getting this deal done was one of them. The deal runs through 2013 with a two-year option. I guess no one knows what the LPGA will look like in a couple of years — so this is an exit strategy for CN or a way to stay in the game depending on where things stand. On top of all of this, CN has altered its executive structure significantly under new CEO Claude Mongeau. He’s a golfer apparently — but that alone won’t open the corporate purse strings any longer.
This is just the first step of what the LPGA needs to do with the Canadian event. It also needs to return it to Ontario — still the centre of media attention — and create a telecast worth watching, one in which Ron MacLean isn’t telling us that golfers have to play from a tree if that’s where their ball ends up.
Finally, you’ve got to wonder about the timing of this — how do you get lost in the news cycle? Schedule a golf announcement the day after the biggest Masters in 13 years.
Here’s the spin:
The CN Canadian Womens Open, through the support of CN, has been elevated to become one of the premier tournaments in womens professional golf. The $2.25 million (U.S.) purse for the 2010 CN Canadian Womens Open to be held August 23-29 at St. Charles Country Club in Winnipeg will rank among the Top-5 purses on the LPGA Tour this season.
CN represents the best in their business, so were thrilled to extend our relationship with a transportation company with such a rich history and bright future, said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan. CN is the only railroad that crosses the continent east-west and north-south, serving the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts; the LPGA strives to satisfy its fans in the same fashion that CN clearly has done for its growing number of customers and partners. We thank both CN and RCGA for their long-time and on-going commitment to the LPGA, and we look forward not only to making our annual trip to Canada but also enhancing a relationship that extends well beyond the ropes into many facets of womens golf development.