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Former pro golfer reflects on LPGA

Rochester, N.Y. -- It's for the love of money, not the game that the LPGA is leaving Rochester, at least according to former pro golfer Dianne Wilde.

"If the money and the purse are better someplace else, they have to go there," she said.

Still, Wilde said the players will miss Rochester's stop on the tour.

"They got such support, and I don't think there were bigger crowds at any place that they play," she said.

Wilde knows firsthand what it's like to play in a professional tournament in Rochester.

The 1977 LPGA tournament at the Locust Hill Country Club was one her first opportunities to play on tour, and it was also the most memorable.

"The course was beautiful," she said. "At that time Nancy Lopez was just coming on tour, so it was an exciting time."

The start of her career was also the beginning of a long history with Rochester and the LPGA. For nearly four decades, the partnership reignited that excitement.

"I know the professionals love being here in Rochester," Wilde said. "Everyone that I had talked to said that this was one of their most favorite places to be."

Wilde said a lot of the players will be disappointed, but the decision to move is all about economics.

"They are looking for a more lucrative sponsorship, and unfortunately, with a lot of communities these days, we don't have enough big corporate sponsors to boost their purse," she said. 

More money for the LPGA and its players will cost the local community millions of dollars in revenue, but Wilde is hopeful the LPGA will one day return.

"I think if it's possible for them they will want to come back to Rochester," Wilde said. "I just think it's been one of those stops that they always look forward to. They always get such a large number of the top players to always come here to play."

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Washington Times