SI Vault
Edited by Cameron Morfit
August 16, 1999
LPGA Catch-22Futures Shock
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August 16, 1999


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LPGA Catch-22
Futures Shock

It wasn't the best result when coleader Marilyn Lovander shot a three-over-par 75 in the second round of last week's area Web.Com Challenge at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton, Mass. An 81 would have been better because then Lovander would've missed the cut.

Welcome to the strange union of the LPGA and Futures tours. Going into the week, Lovander topped the Futures money list and seemed a lock to end the season in the top three, thereby earning her LPGA card for 2000. Naturally, she wanted to protect her lead by playing in the Briar-wood Futures Open in York Pa. Sorry. Under LPGA rules Lovander a nonexempt LPGA member couldn't say no when she was summoned to fill out a weak field in Sutton Here's the catch: No player who earns $25,000 or more on the LPGA circuit is eligible for the Futures tour, meaning Lovander, had she kept going low after her opening 66 at Pleasant Vally, could have played her way right out of her best shot at getting an LPGA card for next year.

"My hands were tied," said Lovander, who would have been Futures history had she finished in the top eight (she was 23rd). "I had to play here or get fined."

Lovander's dilemma highlights how poorly constructed the alliance between the two tours is. The pact went into effect last January when the Futures paid $200,000 to become the feeder circuit of the LPGA. Unlike the PGA and Nike tours the LPGA and Futures are not run by the same organization, and thus the two tours can pull players in opposite directions. Asked about the $25,000 cap, LPGA deputy commissioner Jim Webb said, "That's the Futures tour rule, not our rule." When Futures spokeswoman Tracy Kerdyk commented on Lovander's commitment in Sutton she cited the LPGA's contacting event rule and said "That's not our problem You need to talk to Jim Webb and the LPGA."

The lack of harmony between the tours has infuriated players caught in the middle. Katie Peterson, another nonexempt LPGA member, wanted to play the Futures this year, but couldn't get into tournaments. She learned the hard way that, unlike the PGA Tour, the LPGA cannot exempt its Q school finalists—Peterson finished 44th—onto its minor league tour. "The LPGA sold out its players for $200,000," Peterson says. "Marilyn's situation is a perfect example of how the LPGA didn't think out this union with the Futures tour."

While at Pleasant Valley, Lovander lost the top spot on the Futures money list to Grace Park But going into this week's Betty Puskar Morgantown Futures Classic, the final event of '99 before the three LPGA exemptions are distributed, Lovander is still $3,644 ahead of No. 3 Elizabeth Bowman arid $3,896 clear of No. 4 Eunice Choi. She should make the LPGA tour in 2000, despite the hindrance of playing on it in 1999.

Holy Holes in One!
Aces Coming By the Bucket

It seemed impressive when five players made holes in one at the du Maurier Classic, three at the Canon Greater Hartford Open and two, on back-to-back shots, at the CVS Charity Classic—all two weeks ago within a span of five days. The most stunning holes in one though came not at a tour event but during the Women's Westchester and Fairfield County Golf Association match-play championship at Waccabuc (N.Y.) Country Club.

Donna Lesser, a 67-year-old with an 11 handicap, was 3 up on Buffy Ogden when the two came to the 118-yard 7th hole. Lesser pulled out a five-iron, hit and watched as the ball bounced twice and went in the jar. "Well I guess I don't have to hit," Ogden said. "Of course you do," Lesser replied. "Yours could go in too."

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