The South Range graduate and LPGA commissioner claims the Classic is among the Tour's best in attendance.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
VIENNA -- Ty Votaw never misses a chance to come back home.
Now in his third year as commissioner of the LPGA, Votaw is proud of the success of the tournament close to his hometown.
"It's great coming back home to see the family and even sleeping in my own bed," said Votaw, who graduated from South Range High School in 1980.
"It also has a lot to do with pride because of the success this tournament has had over the years on the tour."
This is the 12th straight year an LPGA event has been held in the Valley. Votaw said the tournament is rated in the top five on the regular LPGA Tour in fan attendance, even though official figures have never been released.
"The players just love to come here because they know that the crowds will be huge and the welcome will be warm," Votaw said.
"That's where my pride in this Valley really comes out.
This year's tournament is missing a number of players on the money list, which has more to do with the timing of the event, Votaw said.
"When your tournament is the week before a major event, especially a major event being played in Europe, it is expected that a lot of the players will take the week off to prepare for that major," he added.
"I understand that next year this will not happen and this tournament will be played between regular tour stops and not in front of or behind a major tournament," he said.
No problems: When tournament officials contemplated the move from Avalon Lakes to Squaw Creek the LPGA wasn't overly concerned, said Votaw.
"Avalon Lakes was a great golf course and the players love to play there, but they and we also knew that Squaw Creek was a great place to play and we had no problems with the switch here since we had been here before."
Votaw took pride in several accomplishments in his three years as commissioner.
"Our goal was to have the average purse for our tour at $1 million by the 2002 season," he said. "We reached that goal a year earlier than we expected."
Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb have been two significant reasons why recognition of the LPGA Tour has continued to grow.
"This year Annika winning four tournaments in a row and five already while posting the first-ever 59 by a woman has just been great for the Tour," Votaw said.
"Then Karrie got hot and won two straight major tournaments and it just keeps going and going."
Webb and Sorenstam will team up with Tiger Woods and David Duval for the "Battle at Big Horn" Monday night in prime time.
"They are both excited about this, as we are, and it will be great exposure for the LPGA and a chance to show just how good the golf is on our tour," Votaw said.
Coverage improving: "Our television exposure has grown each and every year and a lot of people don't realize this, but the sponsorship dollar between us and the PGA Tour is very close because of television."
The PGA Tour is paid by national television to cover their events, so sponsors only have to put in about half of the actual purse.
On the LPGA Tour the sponsors have foot the complete bill, including the cost of television coverage.
Votaw has been with the LPGA since 1991 when he was named vice president of business affairs.
He earned his law degree in 1987 from the University of North Carolina and was the LPGA's first in-house legal council.
Votaw graduated summa cum laude at Ohio University in 1984 and is married.
He and wife Paula have two children, Sam, age 7, and Caroline, 3.