LPGA event may be gone

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Marion County sponsor pulls out

The LPGA Tour has been making an early-season stop in Ocala for each of the last two years, but a third year appears to be in jeopardy.
The tour said last Tuesday that the Coates Golf Championship will not take place at Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club in 2017. The club is owned by R+L Carriers, a freight-shipping company that is the presenting sponsor of the event.
Coates Golf will also not return as title sponsor of the event despite signing a three-year deal to have their name on the event.
R+L Carriers reportedly reached out to several potential replacement title sponsors but were unable to secure one. Without a venue and title sponsor, the LPGA is in a difficult position to keep the event alive.
An LPGA statement reads: “We are actively working to secure a long-term sponsor and suitable venue to keep the LPGA and the best in women’s professional golf in the Central Florida area and will announce more at the appropriate time.”
A statement from Coates Golf reads, “Coates Golf is beyond proud of what the tournament and our community achieved through the Coates Golf Championship for two consecutive years, as so many local companies, organizations, and government bodies stepped forward to participate financially and logistically. We cannot overly express our gratitude for their support and for the record setting attendance that left such enthusiastic golf fans with a wonderful entertainment experience.”
In the first year of the event in 2015, some 80,000 fans attended the event which was won by Na Yeon Choi. This year, torrential rains and delays plagued the tournament ultimately won by Ha Na Jang.