New talks put American takeover of Ladies European Tour back on track

• Realistic chance of revolution in European women’s elite golf
• Key stakeholders had discussions at last month’s Solheim Cup

Professional women’s golf in Europe is set to be afforded a timely boost after talks resumed over the LPGA Tour’s proposed takeover of the Ladies European Tour. Discussions between key stakeholders took place at last month’s Solheim Cup, with the LPGA Tour overseeing the women’s game in both the United States and Europe now a live prospect.

It is understood the project is in its infancy but there is a realistic chance of a revolution in women’s elite golf, safeguarding its future in Europe.

The European Tour, which controls the men’s game, is thought to be ready to take on an element of involvement and the R&A has also been approached for support. The European Tour’s appetite to embrace new territory was emphasised with this week’s announcement of a mixed gender event in Sweden next year where men and women golfers will compete for one prize and one trophy.

The LPGA Tour had launched what is essentially a takeover bid more than a year ago, only to be rebuffed by the LET’s now outgoing chief executive, Mark Lichtenhein. Explaining that failed move to the Guardian in 2018, the LPGA’s commissioner, Mike Whan, said: “I think the idea of us running it, it becoming an LPGA Tour and their top players having a direct pass to the LPGA … they didn’t really love either of those things. I don’t necessarily understand those concerns but I respect them.”

Lichtenhein’s departure was announced in the immediate aftermath of Europe’s enthralling Solheim Cup victory at Gleneagles. Every member of that European team was an LPGA Tour member, a first in Solheim Cup history. Naturally, the LPGA wants to set up a formal link to its core tour by way of access from Europe. In turn, emerging European players would have access to the riches of the LPGA Tour as an early and legitimate career aspiration.

The gulf between the tours is illustrated starkly in prize money. The LET schedule remains short of lucrative events with glaring gaps in what should constitute key parts of the season. There was no tournament in Europe, for example, between 25 May and 25 July this year. Ursula Wikström, who sits 20th on the LET’s 2019 order of merit, has won around €55,000 ($61,000) while her counterpart on the LPGA Tour, Moriya Jutanugarn, has collected $732,000 in prize money.

Laura Davies, Britain’s most decorated female golfer, has voiced her concern at the state of the LET. “We’ve not got enough tournaments to play and I feel sorry for all the young girls that are great players that need to play tournaments,” she said.

Catriona Matthew, who captained Europe to Solheim glory, earlier highlighted stark realities for women taking up professional golf in her home continent. “If you were an emerging player playing in Europe you just about need to have a part-time job to keep you going,” said the Scot.

Contributor

Ewan Murray

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
European Tour could launch takeover bid for Ladies European Tour
The European Tour may launch a takeover bid for its struggling ladies equivalent, which has been hindered by the loss of tournaments in recent times and is also a potential business target for the US-based LPGA Tour

Ewan Murray in Des Moines

20, Aug, 2017 @7:14 PM

Article image
Catriona Matthew paints ominous picture of Ladies European Tour | Ewan Murray
The US-based 47-year-old Scot says up-and-coming European female golfers need a part-time job to support themselves and the financial contrast with the LPGA is certainly stark

Ewan Murray

20, Apr, 2017 @1:57 PM

Article image
LPGA Tour makes swing towards mixed golf events and more prize money
LPGA Tour commissioner, Mike Whan, tells Ewan Murray there have been constructive talks on both sides of the Atlantic about inaugurating mixed tournaments

Ewan Murray

17, Sep, 2018 @3:30 PM

Article image
Lack of European fans will magnify US team’s home advantage at Ryder Cup | Ewan Murray
Ban on travellers from Europe stacks the odds even further in favour of Steve Stricker’s team at Whistling Straits

Ewan Murray

25, Aug, 2021 @2:00 PM

Article image
America on Georgia Hall's mind as golf's big time awaits | Ewan Murray
Young Englishwoman is targeting the riches on offer in America’s LPGA Tour after winning the European order of merit and starring in the Solheim Cup

Ewan Murray

03, Dec, 2017 @8:30 AM

Article image
Georgia Hall: ‘We’re paid very well on the women’s tour … but the men earn so much more’ | Donald McRae
Georgia Hall had her breakthrough victory by claiming the British Open in August and tells Donald McRae that for the first time in her career she can now approach a new year without any financial concerns

Donald McRae

04, Dec, 2018 @12:01 AM

Article image
Jordan Spieth’s steady start at Tour Championship in pursuit of $10m bonus
Jordan Spieth battled his way to a 67, three shots behind the leader, Kyle Stanley, in the first round of the Tour Championship at East Lake

Ewan Murray at East Lake

21, Sep, 2017 @11:06 PM

Article image
Suzann Pettersen out of Solheim Cup firing line after suffering back injury
Norwegian, who was at the centre of controversy in 2015, has been forced out of the European team after sustaining a back injury and replaced by Catriona Matthew

Ewan Murray in Des Moines

16, Aug, 2017 @7:03 PM

Article image
Amnesty lambasts 'irony' of Ladies European Tour events in Saudi Arabia
Amnesty International has voiced deep concern after the Ladies European Tour announced it will stage two events in Saudi Arabia in November

Ewan Murray

29, Sep, 2020 @11:26 AM

Article image
Albane Valenzuela: the amateur golfer who turned down Augusta | Ewan Murray
The 21-year-old will compete at the ANA Inspiration, the first women’s major of the season, despite temptation of Augusta

Ewan Murray

02, Apr, 2019 @4:48 PM