LPGA Championship leaves Md. McDonald's to back tourney in Del.

August 19, 1993|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Staff Writer

The LPGA, faced with the loss of the title sponsor for its championship following the recent withdrawal of the Mazda Motor Co., announced yesterday that McDonald's has taken over that role with a multi-year contract.

The shift of the championship leaves Bethesda Country Club without an LPGA tournament after six successful years, the last four as the championship site.

The 1994 McDonald's LPGA Championship will be held May 12-15 at DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Del., site of the McDonald's Championship stop on the LPGA Tour the past seven years.

It will have national television coverage and a $1.1 million purse, up $100,000 from the recent championship and an increase of $200,000 from the 1993 McDonald's.

In making the announcement, LPGA commissioner Charles Mechem Jr. said: "McDonald's has sponsored one of the finest events on our tour for the last 13 years, and their commitment to charity is unmatched. We couldn't be happier with this new development."

The move became necessary two weeks ago when Mazda, a seven-year championship sponsor, withdrew all of its sports sponsorship ties. "Ahead of that, we had had some talks, and I was led to believe that would happen. I knew I'd better get to work to fill that void," Mechem said.

"I did make a concerted effort to see if there was someone out there who wanted to step into Mazda's shoes, but I figured it was a futile gesture," he said. "There was some enthusiasm, but not enough time for the companies that might have been able to afford it."

Mazda's action was triggered by "the significant downturn in the global economy which has forced us to reduce overall operational costs throughout the company," according to David Parmenter, Mazda's director of marketing. "As a result, we have examined our 1994 marketing plans and will not be renewing our title sponsorship commitments."

Jim Webb, deputy commissioner of the LPGA, said that "the Mazda people tried every way they could to keep the championship. They considered it the most important sports property they had. Our relations could not have been better, and we parted on the best of terms."

Jim Silman, former president of Bethesda Country Club, and the tournament chairman while at that site, said that he had asked Parmenter if there was anything the club could have done, to which the reply was, "No, you could have given it to us, and we would not have been able to do it."

Silman said it was too early to say if Bethesda Country Club might consider playing host to another stop on the tour in the future.

"We had four good years of championship play; we brought a major championship to the Washington area; and we're very happy about that," he said. "Right now, it's the end of a great run."

Webb said the Bethesda stop was popular among players and that the LPGA would like to return to the area, "but it probably would not be until 1995 at the earliest."

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