Beaches Resident LPGA Interim Commissioner; the Retired Navy Rear Admiral Takes over the Troubled Golf Organization

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Byline: GARRY SMITS

Marsha "Marty" Evans, a retired Navy rear admiral and Jacksonville Beach resident with a history of public service, will try to steer the LPGA through turbulent waters as its acting commissioner.

Evans agreed Monday to guide the Daytona Beach-based organization until a new commissioner is hired this year. She replaces Carolyn Bivens, who resigned earlier in the day.

Evans, who said she will not seek the job, had been on the LPGA board of directors since the beginning of this year and had served on an advisory council to Bivens in 2007-2008.

Evans' hiring, even if only on an interim basis, means the two major women's professional sports organizations in the U.S. have area residents in charge. Donna Orender, also a Jacksonville Beach resident, has been president of the WNBA since 2005.

Orender, who also worked for the PGA Tour for 17 years, has been mentioned frequently as a possible replacement for Bivens. She could not be reached for comment Monday.

Whoever the eventual commissioner is, Evans said she wanted to leave the LPGA to that person on firmer ground.

"We're going to be really focused, in the near term, on the 2010 schedule," Evans told The Times-Union. "The idea is to turn over, when the new commissioner is selected, an organization that is moving in the right direction."

Evans served in the Navy for 29 years and was the first woman to command a Navy base. Bivens resigned Monday after a stormy two weeks in which the LPGA lost two more events from its schedule, bringing the total to seven since Bivens took over in 2005. A cadre of 15 players, including world No. 1-ranked Lorena Ochoa, Hall of Fame member Juli Inkster and Cristie Kerr signed a letter demanding Bivens' resignation, and the tide swiftly turned against the former Gannett executive whose reign was marked by controversy and confrontation.

Given the fact that Evans has a master's degree in law and diplomacy from Tufts University, hopes are that the new commissioner will inherit a less stormy situation.

"She's an inspiration to women," said LPGA board member and player Christina Kim. "We came on the board at the same time and we've got a pretty good relationship. We're going out there with a fresh team and fresh faces and I've got full confidence in what Marty can accomplish."

One of Evans' first tasks will be to smooth over hard feelings between the LPGA and tournament sponsors, owners and organizers. Evans said the hiring of Zayra Calderon, who had been the CEO of the Duramed Futures Tour, will be an important part of the process. Calderon will be the LPGA's executive vice president for tournament development and worldwide sales, and will work closely with tournament owners and title sponsors to renew existing events and help create new ones. …