LPGA Commissioner Confident Of Sport's Global Potential; Tourney In China Likely
LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan on Saturday, in regards to interest in women's golf in Asia, said, "I think it is hard sometimes for fans here in the U.S. to understand what happens when we show up in Korea or Malaysia or Taiwan." Whan, who was attending the season-ending LPGA CME Group Titleholders event, added, "Last year at this time when we were in Taiwan, we had to stop selling tickets. We just couldn't get anymore people in the parking lot. And there are times over there when you actually feel security problems. It's just so many fans trying to get to see so few players. You see so many young girls standing on those ropes as these young women walk by and you know we're making some sort of difference long-term to the girls of this game globally." Whan, in reference to the growth of the game, said, "I would be surprised if you wouldn't see us playing in China in the near future. I'm fairly confident to tell you that we'll be playing in the Beijing area pretty soon and I know that Shanshan [Feng] and her win had a lot to do with that." Whan: "We're definitely going to play more and we're going to have a few surprises. The best thing that's really happened on the LPGA in the last couple of years has been that the players have taken over the tour; Stacy Lewis is much more the face of the LPGA than Mike Whan or any staff member. If you saw the player communication team, they're all top twenty players. When the LPGA is at its best, it's player driven and it's pretty player driven right now" ("CME Group Titleholders," Golf Channel, 11/17).
MARKET WATCH: In Rochester, Sal Maiorana noted "speculation immediately arose regarding what would happen" starting in '14 with the future of the Wegmans LPGA Championship. The Rochester-based supermarket chain recently extended its sponsorship of the tournament for one more year. Tournament co-Chair Jerry Stahl said, "To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what we see going forward. ... Everything has a useful life and maybe this is what we've seen, the useful life of this tournament. That could be the case." Maiorana noted Wegmans "decided to hang in for one more year -- despite the spiraling cost of putting on the event and bankrolling the $2.5 million purse -- with the hope that the extra time would be beneficial to the potential procurement of a new sponsorship group." In reality, the two keys to Rochester "holding on to the LPGA Championship are the state of the economy, and the tour doing a better job of becoming relevant on the national sports scene." Whan "spends a lot of time extolling the virtues of how the LPGA Tour is the most global tour in professional golf." However, "not many American fans pay attention to the LPGA when the tournaments aren't being played in their communities" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 11/17).