LPGA golfers relish the ‘Dinah Shore’ tradition

Jeff Gross

It will always be the ‘Dinah Shore’ to many LPGA Tour fans, and Karrie Webb would like to return the name of the late entertainer to the season’s first major championship.

If Karrie Webb had her way, the Hall of Famer would bring Dinah Shore back to the first major of the season. Not literally, since the entertainer died in 1994, but figuratively as the name of the elite event staged at Mission Hills Country Club every year about this time and known by many LPGA Tour fans of a certain vintage -- despite some sponsor changes -- simply as "the Dinah Shore."

With Kraft Nabisco’s contract up after Sunday’s slated finale to its namesake contest and no sponsor yet named as its successor, Webb believes it’s time to return the tourney’s founder to the marquee.

"I think Dinah Shore's name should come back onto the event just to keep that identity. Whoever comes on board as a sponsor, it shouldn't just be the sponsor's name," seven-time major champion Webb told reporters on Tuesday

"Even when we took Dinah's name off the event, people knew what event it was, because they'd been a part of it for so long," Webb said. "I just feel like, to keep the identity of this event, when people tune in to watch, they're going to know, `That's the Dinah Shore, the LPGA's first major of the year.’ That's what I'd really like to see for 2015 and beyond."

The Colgate-Dinah Shore began in 1972 and the tournament retained Shore’s name until 2000. The Nabisco Dinah Shore was elevated to major status in 1983.

Despite uncertainty about next year’s sponsor, players made it clear they could not envision the event anywhere else but at the venue that features the hand-slapping walk past the bleachers to the 18th green and the "champion’s leap" into Poppie’s Pond.

Amy Alcott may have initiated the splashdown in 1988, but even after jumping in with Shore in 1991, the vault was still three years from becoming as cherished a tradition as the donning of a certain green jacket.

Make no mistake, though; it is a custom that all competitors hope is in their future.

"We need to stay here," said former world No. 1 Stacy Lewis, the 2011 winner of the Kraft Nabisco about the course that has hosted a tourney for more years in a row than any but Augusta National.

Lewis was not so adamant about Dinah reclaiming her place as the titular sponsor as she was about ensuring that the first major remain at Mission Hills.

"When I think of a major, I think of this event," said Lewis. "We can’t leave here. This is what our tour is about."

Webb agreed.

"It definitely needs to stay here. There's too much history and too much tradition here. If the LPGA lacks anything, in any other events, it's that," said Webb, who won the event in 2006 and, with two victories already this season, is a favorite to become the 23rd victor to take the Poppie’s plunge on Sunday.

"I just feel like to keep the identity of this event," she said. "When people tune in to watch, they're going to know, that's the Dinah Shore, the LPGA's first major of the year."

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