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Sponsor pulls out of LPGA Skins Game

The rebirth of the LPGA Skins Game might be short-lived.

Organizers say Conagra Foods has pulled out as a title sponsor, and while that doesn't affect the traditional Skins Game played over Thanksgiving weekend in California or the seniors event in Hawaii, it doesn't bode well for the women.

``We are meeting with several prospective sponsors to find an umbrella for the three Skins Games,'' said Michael Stearns of IMG, which runs the tournaments.

Karrie Webb won the LPGA Skins Game in January at Wailea Golf Resort with a record 12 skins worth $270,000. It was the first Skins Game for the women since 1998, when Laura Davies won in Texas.

Davies returned as defending champion, along with Annika Sorenstam and Laura Diaz.

Sorenstam will become the first woman to play in the Skins Game in November, going up against Mark O'Meara, Fred Couples and Phil Mickelson.

Webb might have to do without.

``We're disappointed Conagra is not coming back,'' LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw said last week at the Solheim Cup.

Then again, it's not like the women were given a fair shake.

While the competition was Jan. 26 in Hawaii, the broadcast was not shown until July.

The senior men played Jan. 25 on the same course. Twelve holes were broadcast that Saturday, and the other six were shown Sunday.

``We weren't entirely happy with the way it ultimately played itself out with the tape delay,'' Votaw said. ``Hopefully, it will come back. If it doesn't happen, I'm sorry that Karrie won't be able to defend.''

Although Webb might lose the chance to defend one title, another opportunity awaits.

The LPGA Tour is announcing this week the return in 2005 of the Women's World Cup to be staged in South Africa.

Webb and Rachel Teske of Australia won the Women's World Cup in 2000 when it was played in Malaysia, although that tournament lasted only one year before funding ran out.


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