LPGA stop pushed back

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

The best thing about Edmonton's 2006 LPGA Tour stop is that Edmonton won't be getting an LPGA Tour stop in 2006.

The Royal Canadian Golf Association postponed it until 2007, and for that, all golf fans here should be eternally grateful. Had it gone ahead next summer it would have been a dismal, starless field.

"It wasn't an easy decision but we believe it was in the best interest of the event and the best interest of Edmonton," said RCGA chief operating officer Rick Desrochers, adding the decision was made in conjunction with the LPGA and Economic Development Edmonton - which paid $400,000 in cash and services to host the event.

The problem is scheduling. The dates available for Edmonton would have made it incredibly difficult to attract decent players.

"They weren't great dates," said Dan Pino, senior communications director at the RCGA. "One was late August, the week following the British Open. The players would have to come all the way back overseas and then all the way to Edmonton, so there's a chance you wouldn't get the strongest field."

A very good chance. The other potential date was sandwiched between two Eastern U.S. stops in early June. They'd have to play the LPGA championship in Delaware, fly out west to Edmonton, then fly back and play a tournament in Rochester, New York - or just blow off the Edmonton stop altogether.

"Our tournament director went to the Nabisco a couple of weeks ago and I said, 'when you're there I really want you to spend a lot of time talking to the players about the schedule," said Desrochers. "And there's no question the players were advising against it. LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw even encouraged us to look at changing the venue for '06 (to somewhere in Eastern Canada) and said they'd work with us to give us a date that was more appealing.

"All the pointers were there, so we decided, let's do what's right."

This gives the LPGA an opportunity to schedule Edmonton '07 when their tour is in the central or western U.S.

"Typically we'd like to do it two and three years in advance anyway, so the club and the host city can build up momentum," said Pino. "So moving it back a year and having the LPGA tell us that they can help us with a date for '07 is definitely not a bad thing."

MAYFAIR MEETING: Desrochers, coincidentally, was in Edmonton for a meeting last night with the membership and executive of the Mayfair Golf and Country club, which has the right of first refusal for the LPGA stop.

"We're there to speak to it and answer any questions the members might have," said Desrochers.

"They want the flavour of what the members feel about this. Hopefully our presentation and discussion will be enough to get the members enthused about it and the directors will want to proceed."

He's hoping they want it.

"It's a venerable old golf club. They have a very strong membership and we'd be very happy if they decide to accept it."


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