Mike Whan Confident In More Than 30 Worldwide LPGA Tournaments In '14
While there were only 23 LPGA Tour events in '11, Commissioner Mike Whan "projects there will be more than 30 LPGA tournaments worldwide" in '14, according to Craig Handel of the Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS. Whan is "far from satisfied but proud of the gains made since he took office." He gives players "much of the credit and says their involvement is critical to the game’s continued growth." Whan said, "I’m excited how we’ve turned the ship. I think the best part of the job is how the players have taken over ownership. Initially, that was alarming to me. I should be doing that but our players just always have gotten it." Whan said of the '14 schedule, "We’ll introduce it on Friday. ... They’ll be a couple of tentative lists. We’ve continued to add to our schedule so it’ll be a 3-1 mix. We’ll be north of 30 (tournaments)." Whan said of the tour gaining notoriety, "I think people heard of the LPGA but didn’t know about the LPGA. They didn’t know the players, and they didn’t watch because many couldn’t watch it. Jumping back about six, seven years ago, about 20 countries could watch us. Now, we’re up to 150 countries." Whan: "We’re farther along than what we expected. For anybody, including our golf fans and community, we’re in a really good place, but there’s a long way to go. We’re on network TV a couple of times, which is neither right nor fair. We deserve to provide a larger network audience. We don’t get too caught up in our purse compared to other purses but our 40th best player is making a good income but our 80th isn’t. ... So we’d like to correct that in time" (Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS, 11/20).
MAKING STRIDES: Handel wrote if the LPGA is to "get more tournaments on national television, it must have dynamic personality as well as a dynamic player." Golf Channel analyst Mark Lye said, "They need a Nancy Lopez, that's what they need. Annika Sorenstam, she was great, Lorena Ochoa. She was cute, well spoken. Somebody bigger than life in my estimation." Lye added, "Whan is a whirlwind but he can't sell it if it doesn't sell. There has to be a need for it. They'll cover it if there's a need." Meanwhile, Lye and fellow Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo both said that the LPGA "has made great strides with its events" (Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS, 11/19).