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LPGA commissioner to step down in 2005

Ty Votaw will step down as commissioner of the LPGA Tour at the end of the season after overseeing seven years of extraordinary growth in women's professional golf, he said on Friday.

When Votaw was named commissioner in March 1999 there were 12 LPGA tournaments with purses of at least $1 million or more but this season the schedule features 30 and there are four events offering at least $2 million.

During Votaw's seven-year tenure the average purse rose from just over $840,000 in 1999 to $1.4 million in 2005, with total prize money of $45 million this season, the most in LPGA history.

"Having the privilege to lead the LPGA will always be one of the highest honors of my professional life," Votaw said in a statement.

"While it was a difficult decision for me, it was made easier by the fact that the LPGA's foundation is the strongest it has ever been in its 55-year history and the organisation's future is very, very bright.

"The increased economic opportunities for our players is a direct result of two factors -- the exponential growth of talent and entertainment value embodied by LPGA Tour members and the recognition and support of that talent and entertainment value by our fans, our tournaments and our sponsors."

When Votaw steps down he will have spent 14 years as an LPGA executive, including seven as commissioner -- the second-longest tenure in LPGA history.

The LPGA Board of Directors has established a search committee to identify candidates for the vacant position.

Five players will be on the search committee, including Beth Daniel, Lorie Kane and Laura Davies.


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