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LPGA start search for new commissioner

A search committee of LPGA players and board members this week will begin the task of finding a new commissioner. Current commissioner Ty Votaw resigned Friday with plans to remain on the job through the 2005 season but could leave earlier if a replacement is found before then.

In its history, the LPGA has had six commissioners, all men. Heather Daly-Donofrio, a player and current president, says the membership will consider women for the job.

"We want to find the best person," says Daly-Donofrio. "It doesn't matter whether it's male or female."

Daly-Donofrio says Votaw decided to resign well before the announcement, adding, "His decision was his own. It had nothing to do with anything other than he's looking for a different profession."

Votaw was named commissioner in 1999 after having come to the LPGA as its general counsel in 1991.

"I feel very good about the fact that I gave the LPGA all I had," Votaw said.

He has been a controversial figure, with critics inside and outside the organization. Some players did not like the way he shaped the LPGA tour schedule. He often replaced full-field tournaments with limited-field events, open only to the tour's best players.

He instituted a "five points of celebrity" campaign to encourage the players to pay close attention to their appearance, and some thought his social relationship with Sophie Gustafson, a player, was unacceptable. However, he survived despite the criticism.

At the end of each season, he evaluated his situation, and he concluded after last season it was time to step down.

"Whoever my successor is will have a wonderful organization to inherit," Votaw said. "The future is very, very bright. I'm very proud of that fact."

Betsy King, a Hall of Fame player and Votaw critic, did not criticize Votaw when contacted on Friday. "I'm looking forward," she said. "The tour has a chance to be bigger and better. We'll have several quality candidates."

 

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