Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Golf: Could we see Lydia Ko starring in mixed golf?

Could we see Lydia Ko team up with the likes of Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy in a mixed tournament? Photo / AP
Could we see Lydia Ko team up with the likes of Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy in a mixed tournament? Photo / AP

Mixed team events and integrated tournaments are ideas being touted as the PGA and LPGA tours start a long-term strategic alliance.

The joint venture is aimed at boosting the LPGA tour by dovetailing more of the tournaments and the business and commercial opportunities around them.

Advocates have also been throwing around ideas like special contests with Jordan Spieth and Lydia Ko taking on Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson.

Liaison between the tours "will include areas such as schedule coordination, joint marketing programs, domestic television representation, digital media and exploring the potential development of joint events."

For some time the 66-year-old LPGA tour has been looking to ramp up its commercial clout and link with stronger partners.

Those opportunities are drawing closer as the LPGA's television deal with the Golf Channel expires in 2019 and two years later the PGA's deal with the Golf Channel, NBC and CBS finishes.

There are also the avenues for online content which the PGA tour has controlled for the last few seasons.

If the LPGA can piggyback its brother tour they should get better television and online coverage for their sport. It has battled a lack of consistent coverage but there are suggestions for "joint events".

Eighty years ago, seven time major winner Gene Sarazen and Babe Didrikson played exhibition games against other pairs in front of huge audiences. Didrikson said the format helped her hone her game even more and between matches she would ask Sarazen to help her.

Joint events appeal to television companies who want something different to place around the multiple 72-hole stroke tournaments which fill out the calendar.

They have talked about groups of three men competing from the back tees while three women would then tee off from the forward blocks.

There have also been ideas mooted about mixed team events with 64 teams and 128 competitors playing better ball tournaments.

TV officials argue there is room for some new and exciting on the schedule.

- NZ Herald

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