Originally created 11/23/05

Issues remain with LPGA playoff system



WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Marisa Baena went from a tie for 20th to second with a 66 to get into the final group of the ADT Championship, one shot behind Annika Sorenstam. Under the new playoff system that begins next year, she would have been gone by the weekend.

Sorenstam closed with a 69 to win by two. Had this been 2006, the $1 million prize would have come down to Michele Redman and Soo-Yun Kang, who each shot 68 on the last day.

"I'm just glad it's 2005, that's all I can say," Sorenstam said.

Baena would have missed out because the 32-player field will be cut to 16 after the second round.

It would have far tougher on Sorenstam, who would have lost out because the final round will be reduced to eight players, and they all start the last day even. Given how much $1 million can spike the money list, Sorenstam could lose out on bonuses tied to her finishing first.

That's what has led to a protest that has the LPGA Tour's attention.

Sorenstam and other players have talked to tour officials about the size of the winner's check at the "LPGA Playoffs at the ADT." The $1 million prize is the largest in women's golf, nearly double the $560,000 check for the U.S. Women's Open. What concerns them is how it could skew the money list.

Sorenstam won nine times going into the ADT; no one else won more than twice. But under the new format, it would have been feasible for Paula Creamer to win the money title.

"I'm of the opinion the money list is important," Lorie Kane said. "I don't think somebody should come out and win $1 million and pass someone who's had an awesome year."

Sorenstam said she thought the first prize was too much.

"I don't mind the first prize being $1 million, but I recommended that maybe $500,000 would count on the money list, and give the player a $500,000 bonus," she said.

Rob Neal, vice president of tournament business affairs, said officials would be talking during the offseason about whether to apply only part of the $1 million toward the money list, and it could be changed before 2006 gets under way.

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FINAL STAGE: Steve Pate, Duffy Waldorf and Jay Delsing were teammates at UCLA during the early 1980s. Now they are part of another class with far less distinction.

All three failed to advance out of the second stage of Q-school last week.

Waldorf, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, failed to finish in the top 125 on the money list for the first time in 1990, and because he was outside the top 150, he had to go through the second stage. He still should be able to play about 20 events next year with his past champion status.

Other trends from last week? Being a former U.S. Amateur champion didn't carry much weight. Among the former Amateur winners who didn't advance to the final stage were Matt Kuchar, Ricky Barnes and Jeff Quinney.

Another casualty was Ty Tryon, now 21 and old enough to buy a drink, but nowhere to play except on the mini-tours. Tryon became the youngest qualifier four years ago at 17, but it appears to be getting tougher the older he gets. He failed to break par in any of his four rounds.

The six-round final stage gets under way Nov. 30 at Orange County National in Orlando, Fla.

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MONEY MATTERS: Natalie Gulbis shot 70 in the final round at Trump International and helped the LPGA Tour set a record by becoming the sixth player this year to earn at least $1 million.

No more than five players went over $1 million each of the last three years. Gulbis finished with $1,010,154, allowing her to set her own record - most money in one year without winning.

Perhaps the better gauge of increasing wealth in women's golf is lower down the ladder. There were 27 players who earned at least $500,000, beating the previous mark of 21 players the last two years.

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GLOBAL TIGER: Tiger Woods has probably made enough in appearance fees to be leading the PGA Tour career money list, considering the going rate is about $3 million.

But he doesn't show up to cash a check. Woods' playoff victory in the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan was his ninth victory in 22 starts overseas, and he has finished out of the top 10 only twice - a tie for 15th in the '98 Casio World Open, and a tie for 29th in the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Germany two years ago.

Throw in his other 13 tournaments on foreign soil - nine in the British Open and four in the American Express Championship - and he is 30-of-35 in top 10s and has 13 victories.

Colin Montgomerie said it well a few years ago when Woods beat him in Germany.

"A few people come over to our tour, take the money and run," Montgomerie said. "Tiger is not one of them. All credit to him for coming here as the best player in the world and performing like that."

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PERSPECTIVE: Louise Suggs, sharp and feisty as ever at 82, was at Mar-a-Lago to present the LPGA Tour rookie of the year award named in her honor. Looking out at 19-year-old winner Paula Creamer, who earned over $1.5 million this season, Suggs applauded her for getting off to a great start in her career.

"We didn't have anything such as Rookie of the Year when I started," Suggs said.

Then, the LPGA founder and Hall of Famer really put things into perspective.

Suggs won the U.S. Women's Open in 1949 by 14 shots over Babe Zaharias and said she earned $2,000. She went on to win 58 times on the LPGA Tour, and her career earnings were about $200,000.

With a twinkle in her eye, she looked at Creamer and said, "I think you owe me something."

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DIVOTS: Turnberry has been selected as site for the 2008 British Amateur.... PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem will be presented with the Dick Schaap Lifetime Achievement in Sports Award on Dec. 1 in New York. It is given to those who have achieved at the highest level, while making contributions to their community and charities.... Annika Sorenstam averaged $129,412 per start this year, the equivalent to 71st on the LPGA Tour money list. Tiger Woods averaged $506,096 per start, which would have put him at No. 141 on the PGA Tour money list.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: The United States tied for 17th in the World Cup, its worst finish since the event began in 1953 as the Canada Cup. The only other times it finished out of the top 10 was a tie for 12th in 1991 and 1984.

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FINAL WORD: "When I was a kid, it was my family and God and the USGA. That was kind of the way I was raised." - Arnold Palmer, at a groundbreaking ceremony for an addition to the USGA museum named in his honor.