Golfweek’s Beth Ann Baldry penned an interesting piece (“On the eve of final major, Sorenstam at peace”) that contrasts Annika’s feelings on impending retirement with Brett’s evident indecision and handling of a sticky situation in Green Bay.
Of particular interest, however, is this tidbit that Baldry relates regarding Annika’s continuing sponsorship deals, in the context of Michelle Wie’s decision to play in Reno (which some speculate is more at the behest of William Morris than Michelle) and moreover in the current environment of dried up sponsorships for LPGA events and players.
Many golf observers feel Wie’s participation in Reno has as much to do with pleasing her sponsors as anything else. Sorenstam built up a collection of blue-chip sponsors over the years thanks to 72 LPGA victories. How much did her fine play and impeccable record please the likes of Lexus, Callaway, Merrill Lynch and Rolex? Well, all 10 of her partners are staying on after she steps away. Some are in the middle of contracts, but four are renewing with Sorenstam knowing she will no longer be playing inside the ropes.
That’s impressive considering that so many players out here have zero sponsors, and if they do, make very little money. Inbee Park, the newly crowned U.S. Women’s Open champion, just landed her first major sponsor (SK Telecom) after doing a two-week press tour of Korea.
Does anyone else get the sense that women’s golf is in a lot of trouble? That it took two weeks for Park to land one deal–a deal that should have been a shoo-in anyway given that its from a major South Korean telecom–speaks volumes. Add to that Conde Naste’s recent decision to axe Golf for Women, and you have to wonder…