LPGA launches ‘unique’ event

When the players tee off in this weekend’s PGA Founders Cup it will be with the knowledge that they won’t be paid.

When the players tee off in this weekend’s PGA Founders Cup it will be with the knowledge that they won’t be getting paid.

All their prize money will be going to charity, possibly some of it to the victims of the earthquakes and tsunami that have caused so much devastation in Japan.

“This is a completely unique event,” LPGA Tour Commissioner Michael Whan said of the somewhat controversial event which hasn’t been greeted with joy by all the players.

The LPGA Founders Cup, set to tee-off on Friday at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa’s Wildfire Golf Club, will donate $1 million to charity – half to The LPGA Foundation and its LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program and half to the top-10 finishers who will have designated the charities to which they would like their ‘prize money’ to go.

A theoretical prize fund of $1.3 million will count towards the LPGA money list and World Ranking points will be awarded in the usual manner..

“I think it’s a very positive vibe from all the people that are following around,” 14-time tour winner Cristie Kerr said on Thursday..

“We’ve had a lot of ‘Thank yours.'”

The fifth-ranked Kerr is playing for her own Birdies For Breast Cancer foundation and the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center. On Saturday night at Desert Ridge, she’ll receive the Muhammad Ali Athlete of the Year award.

“It’s quite an honor,” Kerr said. “I get to sit with Halle Berry and The Champ.”

This week’s LPGA, RR Donnelley-sponsored tournament is the tour’s first since Karrie Webb won in Singapore way back on February 27. After stops during the next two weeks in Southern California for the Kia Classic and Kraft Nabisco, the beleaguered LPGA Tour, which has lost tournament as and is finding sponsors hard to come by in trying times, will then have a another break of three straight weeks.

“It’s a little bit more challenging because I’m the kind of player that likes to play a lot,” Kerr said. “I like to play in competition to feel sharp. It’s hard for me to practice without having something to practice for.”

Webb is in this week’s field as is Taiwan’s World No 1 Yani Tseng, the winner of the season-opening LPGA Thailand and three other worldwide events so far this year, World No 2 Jiyai Shin, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, veteran Hall of Famer Juli Inkster and teenager Jessica Korda.