Candidate pool shrinks for LPGA’s top job

With the LPGA’s self-imposed deadline to select its next commissioner fast approaching, the tour’s short list is getting shorter. Several of the LPGA’s top candidates have dropped out of the race.

Arlen Kantarian, former chief executive of the U.S. Tennis Association, and Jeffrey Pollack, commissioner of the World Series of Poker, have withdrawn as candidates, according to Sports Business Daily. Likewise, WNBA commissioner Donna Orender, who was considered a frontrunner, earlier had pulled her name from consideration.

Kantarian, who is a senior adviser to the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, pulled out because the LPGA couldn’t meet his salary demands, Golfweek has learned from a source with intimate knowledge of the selection process. The same source said that Pollack was considered a darkhorse among the finalists.

Among those left standing is Pete Bevacqua, the USGA’s chief business officer, who along with Orender, was identified as a top finalist. His main rival now appears to be Jonathan Ward, whose candidacy surfaced late in the process, but has gained momentum, according to GolfChannel.com.

Ward, 55, is the senior adviser at investment firm Kohlberg & Co. Before that, Ward was managing director for investment bank Lazard Freres & Co. from November 2006 to June 2009, and has been chief executive officer of ServiceMaster and president and chief operating officer of R.R. Donnelley & Sons. He has served on the board of directors of Sara Lee since October 2005.

Carolyn Bivens resigned under pressure on July 13. Marty Evans, a retired Navy rear admiral and member of the LPGA’s Board of Directors, was appointed acting commissioner, but said from the start that she isn’t interested in the full-time position. The LPGA hopes to have a new commissioner in place before the LPGA Tour Championship on Nov. 19-22.

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