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LPGA Dropping Wood Ranch, Seeking New Tournament Site

August 04, 2000|TOM LAMARRE

For the second consecutive year, the Los Angeles Women's Championship can't seem to find a golf course.

One thing is certain--the LPGA tournament won't be returning to Wood Ranch Golf Club in Simi Valley, where Laura Davies posted a three-stroke victory over Carin Koch in the rain last February.

"That's the way it looks," said Steve Boveri, tournament director at Wood Ranch. "We want to have the tournament here again, but we're pretty much resigned to the fact that it is a dead issue with us.

"Our membership and the city of Simi Valley want to have the tournament here and the LPGA players told us they liked the course, but apparently the LPGA board doesn't want to come back here."

Wood Ranch had a three-year contract to host the tournament, but the LPGA had a clause that it could leave after one year if it was dissatisfied.

The tournament was awarded to Wood Ranch with barely six weeks to prepare for the event and there were complaints that the golf course was too difficult, there were not enough volunteers, parking space was limited and attendance was low.

The LPGA tournament office did not return phone calls Thursday and spokesperson Ava Kawana of AJ Sports, the tournament contractor and promoter, was out of town and unavailable for comment. An AJ Sports employee who answered the phone confirmed that the tournament will not return to Wood Ranch.

"It's not going to be at Wood Ranch," said Steve Brener of Brener Zwikel and Associates of Reseda, which handles marketing and media relations for the tournament. "That's what I've been told.

"They are considering some courses [in the Valley area] and one in Orange County."

One possibility is Lost Canyons Golf Club, also in Simi Valley, a 36-hole Pete Dye-Fred Couples collaboration that is under construction.

Lost Canyons is scheduled to open its first course in October and the other one in December.

"I'm in the process of scheduling a meeting with [officials at Lost Canyons] next week," said Bob Collins of Group Dynamics Inc. of Santa Monica, which is affiliated with AJ Sports and handled promotion of the tournament at Wood Ranch.

"We are no longer in the promotion end of the tournament but are trying to secure sponsorship and looking at tournament sites. We looked at 50 sites last year before we selected Wood Ranch. Any site must meet the specifications and guidelines the LPGA establishes."

Oakmont Country Club in Glendale hosted the tournament the previous three years and would be interested again if certain conditions could be met.

"We have had no contact with the LPGA at this time, to my knowledge," said Greg Frederick, director of golf at Oakmont. "We certainly would speak to the promoter [about hosting the tournament again].

"Our membership really enjoyed the event and we were disappointed when it went to Wood Ranch, but we understood why. At the end of our three-year contract, there were some issues that needed to be addressed with the LPGA and the city of Glendale and we didn't get them resolved."

Other courses in the area which might be considered are Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, which has hosted a PGA Senior Tour event and the PGA Tour's Skills Challenge, and Valencia Country Club, which hosted the 1998 Nissan Open.

The LPGA has scheduled the 2001 tournament for the week of March 26-April 1.

*

Ina Kim of Encino upset defending champion Aree Wongluekiet of Bradenton, Fla., 1 up, in the third round of the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship on Thursday at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore.

Kim, who defeated Shann Johnson of Sioux Falls, S.D., 5 and 4, earlier in the day, built a 2-up lead over Wongluekiet after 14 holes and held on.

"I felt really bad, even after I won," Kim said. "When I beat Aree, I felt like the Wicked Witch of the West. But if I had lost, I know I would have cried, too."

Elizabeth Janangelo of West Hartford, Conn., eliminated Hana Kim, Ina's sister, 2 up, in the third round. In the second round, Kim beat Lisa Tyler of Lighthouse Point, Fla., 8 and 6.

In the U.S. Junior Amateur at Pumpkin Ridge, Patrick Phillips of Athens, Ga., eliminated Anthony Kim of Studio City, 2 and 1. Kim defeated Derek O'Neill of Littleton, Colo., 4 and 3, in the second round.

*

Even after he finished, Chad Wright had to wait a while for the biggest victory of his career.

Wright, a graduate of Buena High and USC, shot six-under-par 65 in the final round on Sunday to win the 84th Samsung Canadian PGA Championship by one stroke at King's Riding Golf Club in King City, Ontario, Canada.

Wright's victory wasn't assured until Jason Bohn, playing in the final group, lipped out an eight-foot putt for birdie on the 72nd hole.

"Jason and I are good friends so I tried not to root against him," said Wright, who finished at 66-67-70-65--268, 16-under par, and earned $27,000,

"I just focused on what I had control over. Judging by his body language, I thought that putt was in."

Bohn, from Atlanta, wound up at 66-69-66-68--269, tied for second with Chris Anderson of Covina, who shot 67-66-68-68--269.

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