Major status for Open would spice up LPGA

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

A couple of talking heads recently were chatting about the CN Canadian Women's Open possibly becoming the LPGA Tour's fifth major when one of them opined how outlandish that would be unless one of the other majors lost its status, in order to keep the number at four.

The timing of that discussion was weird since CN has yet to renew its sponsorship past next year's event, but has made clear it would like the Canadian Women's Open to become a major, which it deserves to be after the commitment made by the title sponsor.

But which comes first -- the chicken or the egg? The sponsorship or the major? Once that is decided, the question becomes: Why can't the LPGA Tour have five majors?

The answer to that question is that, in the traditional world of golf, it is inconceivable to think beyond the conventional, even if there were years in which only two LPGA majors were played and other years in which there were only three.

Where this magic number of four comes from is anybody's guess, but the almighty PGA Tour sets the standards for many and, if the men's tour isn't doing it, it can't be done, despite the fact that the men's and women's circuits are as different as Natalie Gulbis and John Daly.

For one thing, the amount of attention received by a major on the LPGA Tour is minuscule compared to the Masters or British Open. But even so, the comparative buzz generated by an extra LPGA major would be a bonus for a circuit badly in need of it with tournaments falling off the schedule.

The LPGA Tour schedule is hardly filled with the big-ticket events that dominate the schedule on the PGA Tour, which cleverly uses other designations to fuel the marketing machine that hypes each event there.

There is the "unofficial" fifth major -- The Players Championship -- and the World Golf Championships and the latest concoction, the FedEx Cup playoffs, which concluded with yesterday's Tour Championship.

CONFUSING SYSTEM

Over its first three years of existence, the FedEx Cup experiment has dealt with a confusing points system, marquee players not bothering to compete and Vijay Singh going into the 2008 Tour Championship with it already won for all intents and purposes.

Still, it soldiers on with the tour tweaking it each year to liven up a stretch of the season after the PGA Championship that is normally nap time. Those who support the so-called playoffs are of this opinion: How can you go wrong with so many top players involved?

The arrival of the playoffs has put more tournaments into the mix that top players will want to play, to the detriment of those events starving for a marquee player or two.

That is a situation that we got used to before RBC rode in and started raising the stature of the men's Canadian Open. But there are others in that situation, which is why commissioner Tim Finchem made a plea for players to be at more tournaments this year.

The word "major" may not apply to the manufactured FedEx Cup, but whatever you call the playoffs or Tour Championship or any other event, there is a glut of big events on the PGA Tour schedule.

The LPGA Tour is entirely different. Compared to the gridlock of the men's side, it is a pleasant drive down a country road, with little to see in the way of big events. A fifth major would liven it up.

The women's Open has all the necessary qualities for being a major and, for the traditionalists, Canada has a history of hosting LPGA majors, dating back to the du Maurier Classic.

If CN stays on board, forget about PGA Tour standards and designate it the fifth major.

HUTCHGOLF@NETZERO.COM


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