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Thursday, September 6, 2012

No Beer This Time Around

The Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill was one of the LPGA's most popular events until it vanished during Carolyn Bivens's tenure as commissioner. Several tournaments were lost during the economic struggles of that time, but it's probably unfair to attribute the loss to her. Anheuser-Busch (Kingsmill's owner at the time) was sold to a European brewer called InBev, and they simply decided to put their money elsewhere.

Now in the hands of Xanterra Parks and Resorts -- and perhaps also because Whan is now at the helm of the LPGA -- Kingsmill is back on the schedule as the Kingsmill Championship. The 2012 incarnation is being played this week; next year it will be moved to a date in May.

It took me a little effort to confirm who the new sponsor was. If you want more details, here's the Richmond Times-Dispatch article I found from back in January when the deal was done. There's some good info there.

Now, about the tournament itself:

The River Course is located in Williamsburg, Virginia. The overall purse has taken a hit -- dropped from $2.2M in 2009 to $1.3M this year -- but I suspect that may improve if the tournament regains its popularity. Bear in mind that Xanterra is owned by the same company that owns The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, where the LPGA held the 2010 U.S. Women's Open (that info also came from the article mentioned earlier), so that bodes well for the future of the event. The article said that, although the initial deal is just for two years, that "both parties [the LPGA and Kingsmill] 'fully intend for Kingsmill to be on the schedule for a long time to come.'"

The 2009 winner was Cristie Kerr, and Tony Jesselli noted over at Mostly Harmless that this is a fairly weak field since most of the non-American players aren't there. (That's no reflection on the tournament, btw. The Ricoh Women's British Open is next week!) That means, in all likelihood, that we will see an American winner this week.

Or maybe not. One of the more notable entrants this week is Marcela Leon, the winner of Big Break: Atlantis. A sponsor's exemption into the Kingsmill was one of her prizes. Next week she heads back to the Symetra Tour... unless maybe she pulls out a win? You can read an interview with her at this LPGA news page.

I think that pretty much covers everything you need to know. You can check Tony's preview of the tournament at the Mostly Harmless link mentioned earlier. I'll just remind you that we get LIVE coverage this week, from 12:30pm to 2:30pm ET today on GC.

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