LPGA Tour seizes more sponsorship interest in women’s sports

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LPGA Tour seizes more sponsorship interest in women's sports

Nasa Hataoka of Japan waves to the gallery on the 18th green during the final round of the LPGA Tour Championship golf tournament on Sunday, November 21, 2021, in Naples, Fla. (AP Photo / Rebecca Blackwell)

Ten years ago, eight LPGA Tour players had made at least $ 1 million that season. One indication of how much has changed is Nasa Hataoka.

The 22-year-old Japanese earned more than $ 1 million this year with two runner-ups.

They came to events with the two largest purses of the LPGA Tour, the US Women’s Open and the CME Group Tour Championship. Even so, it was an example of how much stronger the wallets are, and now the LPGA Tour is heading into a 2022 season that sees prize money soaring $ 90 million.

Mollie Marcoux Samaan will do this for her first full year as a commissioner. She spoke last week about the LPGA Tour being geared towards growth and that “this is our time”.

Jin Young Ko of Korea (right) holds the Player of the Year trophy with LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux (left) after winning the LPGA Tour Championship golf tournament on Sunday, November 21, 2021, in Naples, Fla. (AP Photo / Rebecca Blackwell)

“I think people have seen an awakening around women’s sports too,” she said. “And they said, ‘Wow, that’s an undervalued asset in the world. We need to emphasize this value. ‘

“I think in general, because of the global focus on diversity, equality and inclusion, people have looked at women’s sport and said, ‘This is an area in the world where there isn’t a lot of equality or a lot of equality.'”

The LPGA has just completed its 72nd season, with 15 players making $ 1 million or more.

Terry Duffy, the CEO and Chairman of CME, is among its biggest proponents by putting the largest check in first place at $ 1.5 million. The CME Group Tour Championship increased their prize pool by $ 2 million to $ 7 million next year, with $ 2 million going to the winner.

The LPGA Tour has 19 of its 34 official events valued at $ 2 million or more, up from 15 such events five years ago.

The five majors have a total of at least $ 26.3 million in prize money, up from $ 18.7 million five years ago. The US Women’s Open has yet to be determined. They were looking for a presenting sponsor and could announce the biggest wallet in women’s golf at the beginning of next year.

There is still a big gap to be filled with the PGA Tour, where 16 players have made $ 1 million or more in just nine fall events to kick off the new season.

“We are constantly looking at all levels of the tour. How are our top players financially, how are the middle players, how are the bottom players? We pay attention to fair wages, ”said Marcoux Samaan. “We’re looking at the deltas between the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour, and the delta gets bigger as you go down the money list.

“I think if we can close this delta and if we can make sure that the top players in the world can make a living according to their talent, I think that’s a really big goal of ours.”

ONE MORE MOUNTAIN

Collin Morikawa has had a year worth celebrating. His three wins include a World Golf Championship, a second major at the British Open and his first European Tour win at the DP World Tour Championship, which made him the first American to win the Race to Dubai.

And the year is not over yet.

Next week is the Hero World Challenge, and while it’s an unofficial holiday event, world ranking points are at stake.

And for Morikawa it is also number 1 in the ranking.

According to predictions of a world ranking specialist known on Twitter only as “Nosferatu”, Morikawa could reach number 1 in the world if he won the Bahamas. But not for long. With the formula, Jon Rahm would return to first place a week later.

That would be fine with Morikawa. The 24-year-old Californian just wants to go there.

“I am definitely aware of that,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll make it, even if it’s only for this one week. I am sure that we will still have a lot of chances, hopefully next year. “

Morikawa said reaching number 1 in the world has been a goal for as long as he can remember, and it’s not an opportunity he takes lightly considering it’s only been since the rankings began in 1986 24 players were number 1.

“There have been a lot of great players who haven’t and that just shows how difficult it is,” he said.

END OF AN ERA

The CME Group Tour Championship marked the end of the LPGA season and it turned out to be a kind of farewell on the broadcast front.

Beth Hutter is retiring from producing LPGA Tour coverage for the Golf Channel and wants to spend more time at home with her young daughter.

Judy Rankin also says she’s done with a full-time schedule. Rankin is a Hall of Fame player whose neighborly and authoritative voice has been a staple of LPGA events. She previously served as a walking analyst during Tiger Woods’ peak years with ABC and ESPN.

Fittingly, she received the Commissioner’s Award from Mollie Marcoux Samaan, dated 1991 to honor those who have made unique contributions to the LPGA.

Along with her transfer, Rankin became the first player to exceed $ 100,000 in revenue in 1976. In 1996 and 1998 she was also the captain of the Solheim Cup.

“I think I had the best front row seat ever,” said Rankin, who will turn 77 in February. “The LPGA was my neighborhood and I love that neighborhood. I was very fortunate to have a second chance after spending so much time out here making friends with young players. It was really extraordinary for me. “

KAPALUA FIELD

The Sentry Tournament of Champions had a 42-man field earlier in the year as 2020 was cut short due to a pandemic that caused the PGA Tour to expand qualifications to winners and anyone who reached the Tour championship .

Now there are only winners at Kapalua and the field could be as big as 38 players.

Patrick Cantlay won three times this year and eight other players won twice.

While the deadline to participate is more than a month away, the only ones Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson are not planning on being on Maui. McIlroy starts his year in Abu Dhabi, while Mickelson (who has not played Kapalua since 2002) said his first stop would likely be The American Express in the California desert, where he is tournament host.

RISING SUN

The European Tour now bears its new name – the DP World Tour – so it was only fitting that the first announcement was that it will add a tournament in Japan to its schedule. It will be the 51st country to host a touring event.

World tour, indeed.

The ISPS Handa Championship will take place April 21-24 at PGM Ishioka Golf Club in Omitama. It is sanctioned along with the Japan Golf Tour.

DIVOTS

BMW has signed a five-year extension to 2027 as the title sponsor of the PGA Tour’s only rotating postseason event. The BMW Championship will be held at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware next year and will return to Olympia Fields south of Chicago in 2023. … Brooks Koepka, a free agent since Nike stopped manufacturing golf clubs, has signed a contract with Srixon. Koepka will use the Srixon driver, irons and golf balls, and play Cleveland wedges. He used the irons to win the Phoenix Open that year. … The US amateur is going to Inverness in 2029. The club in Toledo, Ohio last hosted the Solheim Cup this year.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Nasa Hataoka won $ 1.074 million for second place in the US Women’s Open and the CME Group Tour Championship. She won $ 645,000 for her two wins at the LPGA Classic Marathon and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

LAST WORD

“I will set myself some high goals. I have always. I will raise the bar as high as possible and move on. ”- Collin Morikawa.

BY DOUG FERGUSON

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