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Carol Bivens to be new LPGA Commissioner

Carolyn Vesper Bivens was hired Wednesday as the first female commissioner in the 55-year history of the LPGA Tour, taking over a sport driven by the success of Annika Sorenstam and the potential of teenagers like Michelle Wie.

Bivens will replace Ty Votaw, who is stepping down after seven years.

For the last four years, Bivens was president and CEO of Initiative, a media planning and buying company. She previously was the associate publisher of USA Today, where she also had been senior vice president of advertising.

``My hope is to keep the momentum going,'' Bivens, 52, said in a telephone interview. ``This is not an organization that needs to be fixed.''

Bivens has a background in marketing and a love for golf, having been a member at Congressional Country Club for 22 years before moving to California.

She started at USA Today in circulation marketing and ended up in advertising until being chosen as associate publisher. All along, the running joke at the newspaper was that her dream job was to run the LPGA Tour.

``They roasted me with a sports page naming me commissioner of the Senior LPGA for my 40th birthday,'' Bivens said.

She left for Initiative to learn how to run a business and didn't think much about the LPGA job when Votaw announced in January that this would be his last year as commissioner. Votaw, 42, has not said what he plans to do next.

``I got a phone call that someone had put my name in the hat and asking if I could talk about it,'' Bivens said. ``It only took that one conversation to rekindle the embers. I couldn't be more thrilled to come to the LPGA at a time when it has all kinds of momentum and an incredible array of players.''

The announcement comes one week before Sorenstam will try to win the third leg of the Grand Slam at the U.S. Women's Open. Last week, at the LPGA Championship, the 15-year-old Wie finished second, and 18-year-old Paul Creamer, who recently won her first LPGA Tour event, tied for third.

``The PGA was fortunate and got Tiger Woods, and got a lot of people who normally would not have watched,'' Bivens said. ``What the LPGA has is a cadre of talent ranging in age that is going to draw a more diverse audience.''

It was not clear when Bivens would be formally introduced as the seventh commissioner of the LPGA Tour or meet with the players. She is expected to start her new job by the end of the year.

She will start with at least one advantage over Votaw -- her golf. Votaw rarely played growing up and only slightly improved his game during his 14 years at the LPGA Tour.

Bivens said her most recent handicap is 14.


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