OKLAHOMA CITY - After the title sponsor of an LPGA tournament in suburban Tulsa declared bankruptcy earlier this week, tournament officials say efforts are under way to preserve the eight-year-old event.
The SemGroup Champion-ship has been played in May at Cedar Ridge Country Club in Broken Arrow, but it seems likely a new title sponsor for the event will be needed, as Tulsa-based SemGroup LP filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday after losing a reported $2.4 billion in hedged trading on the oil futures markets.
Doug Eibling of Octagon, a sports management and marketing company that owns the LPGA event, said Friday a search has started to replace SemGroup as the title sponsor.
Eibling, the tournament's director, said that as SemGroup's troubles became public knowledge this week, Octagon received calls from three potential title sponsors, which he declined to name.
Paula Creamer won this year's tournament in a playoff over Juli Inkster. Next year's tournament is scheduled for May 28-31.
“The fact that people are coming to us already really speaks to the strength of the event here in the community and the value corporate companies see in the event,” Eibling said.
Founded in 2000, SemGroup has become one of Tulsa's best-known companies in recent years, in part because of its sponsorship of the LPGA event.
But company spokesman Lance Ignon said that the company's primary interest right now is not in potential sponsorships.
“Right now, we are focused on implementing this reorganization and making sure we move forward,” Ignon said.
“We are doing our best at the moment to stabilize the company and ensure we take care of employees and customers and communities.”