SBD/March 21, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan Making "Huge Impact" In First Three Years At The Helm

Whan flies to every venue from his home to spend the early part of the week there
LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan's “force of personality and business acumen” has made a “a huge impact" in his three full seasons at the helm, according to Tod Leonard of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Since Whan took the position, there are “more tournaments, better TV exposure, and more symbiotic relationships with sponsors.” For each LPGA tournament, Whan “flies to the venue from his home in Florida to spend the early part of the week making sure the machine is running smoothly.” He also plays in “a half dozen pro-ams per year to massage business partners.” Whan said, “If something needs to be fixed the sponsor wants to be face to face with the guy who sold them the deal in the first place” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/21). Whan said of LPGA Tour events potentially ending on a day other than Sunday to boost exposure, "We had an event last year in Hawaii that finished on Saturday. ... But we’re customer-friendly. We’ll finish when (our sponsors) want us to finish, not when we want to finish." Asked if there was a market the Tour hopes to enter, Whan said, “I don’t go looking for markets. I go looking for business partners. And then I try to find the market that works best for them” (GOLFDIGESTSTIX.com, 3/20). Meanwhile, GOLFWEEK’s Beth Ann Baldry notes the contract for the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup “remains on the table.” Whan had “hoped to make an announcement last week but said the title sponsor needs more time.” Whan: “I can’t imagine it going away.” Baldry writes the Canadian Women's Open is perhaps the “biggest tournament needing a title sponsor" for next year, as '13 is the “last year for Canadian National Railway” (GOLFWEEK, 3/22 issue).

COSTLY MISTAKE: Yani Tseng missed her tee time yesterday for a Pro-Am associated with this week's LPGA Kia Classic and was disqualified from the event. Golf Channel’s Peter Jacobsen said, "If you're (Tim) Finchem or Michael Whan or Mike Stevens, who run these three tours, you're looking at it from a long-term view. So if you upset sponsors on Wednesday, then it's going to be difficult for you in year two, three, five, 10 to be able to have a schedule that makes sense.” Jacobsen said of Tseng being forced to withdraw, “There is a responsibility that all of us professionals have to our Pro-Am partners and to the sponsors of the event. While it does seem harsh, I think it’s the right rule.” Golf Channel’s Damon Hack asked, “Are you hurting the tournament even more if a Yani Tseng ... is not there Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday?” Jacobsen: “No, you're not, because the most important day is Wednesday. You have a chance to play with the sponsors, the ones that are underwriting the tournament.” Golf Channel’s Gary Williams said, “Pay day is a result of Wednesday. Sunday happens because of Wednesday" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 3/21).
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