LPGA Strengthens; Tournament Moved to Spring

HOTEL CLASSICS: Cristie Kerr displays her John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic trophy with leaders of the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel and Convention Center after the trophy and check presentations. From left with Kerr are General Manager Robert Kisabeth, Food and Beverage Director William Kinser and Marketing Director Kim Carpenter.

GTR Newspapers photo

Cristie Kerr won the 2006 John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic at Cedar Ridge Country Club in Broken Arrow on Sept. 9, defeating defending champion Annika Sorenstam by two strokes. Kerr finished 14 under par at 70-61-68 for an impressive 199 strokes.

Kerr’s second round 61 was an LPGA Tour season record and a course record at Cedar Ridge Country Club. Her tournament win netted $150,000 in earnings.

In addition, Kerr, from Miami, Fla., also won the season-long Team SemGroup, a field comprised of six LPGA Tour professionals in a season-long points race that concluded at the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic presented by SemGroup. Kerr earned a $25,000 donation to the charity of her choice, Birdies for Breast Cancer, by defeating Natalie Gulbis, Stacy Prammanasudh, Helen Alfredsson, Christina Kim and Carin Koch.

At the awards ceremony after the final round, Kerr addressed the gallery during the check presentation and generously announced a donation of $1,000 to each Team SemGroup charity and an additional $5,000 donation to breast cancer research in Oklahoma. The $1,000 donation recipients include the Natalie Gulbis Foundation (Gulbis), Angel Network (Prammanasudh), LIFE – LPGA Players in the Fight to Eradicate Breast Cancer (Alfredsson), Tom’s Charity – Project Single Parent (Kim) and Desert Voices Oral Learning Center (Koch).

Title Sponsors Switch;
Tourney Moved to Spring

SemGroup, L.P., will title sponsor the SemGroup Championship presented by John Q. Hammons when the LPGA Tour returns to the Tulsa area for the seventh annual tournament, April 30 to May 6, 2007. SemGroup’s title sponsorship is a three-year partnership with Octagon, the Tournament’s management company. Cedar Ridge Country Club in Broken Arrow has committed to host the Tournament through 2009.

“Our partnership with Octagon and the LPGA is really a commitment to the Tulsa community,” says Thomas L. Kivisto, president and CEO of SemGroup, L.P. “We are excited about the future of this tournament as it continues to grow in this community, where we work, live and play.”

Ambassadors since the tournament’s inception in 2001, John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts and The Renaissance Tulsa Hotel & Convention Center have played an integral role in ensuring the LPGA’s longevity in Oklahoma. The transition from three-year title sponsor to presenting sponsor comes one month after an announcement that the LPGA Northwest Arkansas Championship presented by John Q. Hammons will be added to the LPGA Tour schedule in 2007.

“I believe in the Tulsa community and I am proud that we were able to play a lead role the last three years in keeping this great event in the area,” said John Q. Hammons, chairman of John Q. Hammons Industries and owner of The Renaissance Tulsa Hotel & Convention Center. “As presenting sponsor, we look forward to working with the great people at SemGroup and hosting the ladies from the LPGA Tour for years to come.”

Under the direction of Head Golf Professional and Director of Golf Buddy Phillips, Cedar Ridge Country Club has hosted the LPGA Tour for three years and a variety of events in its 38-year history, including the 1983 U.S. Women’s Open and 1974 and 1997 Trans-Miss Amateur Championships.

Octagon, under the leadership of Executive Director Tim Erensen and Tournament Director Andy Bush, will continue to manage the year-round tournament operations and corporate partnerships.
SemGroup is the third community leader to title the event. The SemGroup Championship presented by John Q. Hammons was most recently known to Tulsans as the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic (2004 – 2006) and the Williams Championship (2002 – 2003). SemGroup served as presenting sponsor in 2006.

TV, Web Ratings Up

Viewership for the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic presented by SemGroup increased exponentially this year on the Golf Channel. The numbers show increases every day from last year, with Sunday’s final round up 245 percent, or 183,000 as compared to 53,000 last year.

There are many positives in the numbers; on Saturday there was college football that carried over into primetime, ABC Saturday night football (which pulled an 8.7) and U.S. Open Tennis on CBS prime time (which pulled a 3.2).

Sunday network primetime included U.S. Open tennis (5.1) and Sunday night football on NBC, which pulled a 14.8.
On the Web site, LPGA.com experienced nearly 2.5 million views, up 21 percent.

Northwest Arkansas to Host
LPGA in September

Rogers, Ark. will begin hosting an annual international field of LPGA Tour professionals, beginning Sept. 3-9, 2007, at the LPGA Northwest Arkansas Championship presented by John Q. Hammons at Pinnacle Country Club. The week-long championship will include a variety of community events, Pro-Am play and three days of LPGA competition.

“I have supported the LPGA since 2003 and am honored to expand my involvement with this Championship,” said Mr. Hammons, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts, LLC.

The LPGA is expected to return to a September tee-off in 2008 at Cedar Ridge in Broken Arrow.

Updated 09-18-2006

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