A world-class leaderboard, extended Sunday television coverage, average crowds and a continued sponsor search marked last weekend's LPGA Kingsmill Championship.
"I thought we had good crowds," Wayne Nooe, Kingsmill's director of golf, said Monday. "I thought Saturday was probably affected by the weather more so than any other day. … Yesterday we had great turnout. There's no doubt that four days in a row of that (cool, breezy) weather affected how much turnout we could have had."
Officials had yet to finalize attendance calculations, but Nooe estimated that the event attracted similar crowds to last year's 62,700. Kingsmill's record for an LPGA tournament is "a little over 64,000," Nooe said, that in 2004, the first year Michelle Wie was in the field.
Attendance was more important this year as Kingsmill's owner, Xanterra, looks for a title sponsor to continue the event. The LPGA's two-year contract with the Williamsburg resort expired after Sunday's final round but includes an option for 2014.
"Even if you're a sponsor in a skybox, you do like to see people around," Nooe said. "I think it feels more like an event when you have good crowds, and I this year think we had that. And if we have better weather, I think we can keep growing it. …
"We had some (prospective sponsors) that were here Friday and Saturday, and then we had some folks that were here Tuesday and Wednesday. I think they all left impressed. The process is never as fast as you'd like it to be. It takes some time just to get people familiar with it and let them see how it works for them. … We're optimistic that there's someone out there that would like to partner with us."
Contractually, Kingsmill and the LPGA are scheduled to decide on 2014 "by early fall," Nooe said. "But if we are close to getting a partner, or if our company decides to do it ourselves, I think the date is flexible. The (LPGA doesn't) typically announce their schedule until January, so I think we've got a little leeway in that."
Cristie Kerr earned her third Kingsmill victory Sunday in a two-hole, sudden death playoff. The win elevated Kerr from 12th to 10th in the world rankings, Pettersen from fifth to third.
Also contending Sunday were No. 1 Inbee Park, No. 2 Stacy Lewis, No. 6 So Yeon Ryu and No. 18 Ariya Jutanugarn, a 17-year-old from Thailand.
Pete Dye's River Course has consistently produced such results, with past champions such as Pettersen, Annika Sorenstam and Se Ri Pak.
"Take a look at the leaderboard," Nooe said, "and who was there at the end."
The playoff added about 45 minutes to the Golf Channel's live coverage, which began 30 minutes earlier than scheduled because of poor weather at the PGA Tour event in Charlotte, N.C. So instead of 3-6 p.m., the telecast went from 2:30-6:45.
"It's interesting," Nooe said. "When you talk to the players, they love the golf course. They feel like it's always in good shape when they're here. They saw the rain Monday, so they know how wet it was. I think by the weekend it was playing pretty good. …
"But I heard a lot this week about the volunteers and the spectators, not only how knowledgeable they are, but also the (numbers). They like playing in front of crowds, and I guess here at our event the crowds are substantial in comparison to some other events. I just think the combination of the course the galleries and the hospitality they get from the volunteers and the resort, they just feel like it's a special event."
Kerr has earned more than $1 million playing at Kingsmill, and the tournament has no stronger advocate.
"This tournament deserves to be here and it deserves to be on our schedule," she said. "It just deserves to be a premier event, and it is in my mind obviously. Everybody loves the golf course and where it is. It would be great if we could get another sponsor to step up."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun