LPGA Will Return To Mission Hills Country Club In '15, Though Title Sponsor Still Unknown
LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan confirmed that the tour is partnering with IMG to "organize the new incarnation" of the former Kraft Nabisco Championship played at Mission Hills Country Club since '71, according to Larry Bohannan of the Palm Springs DESERT SUN. IMG "ran operations" for the LPGA's first major of the season in '13 and '14. Nearly five months after Kraft "officially left the tournament as both owner and sponsor, the LPGA is certainly not ready to announce a title sponsor" for '15. But Whan said of returning to Mission Hills, "We have some work to do, but there is no chance of us not being there in 2015." Bohannon noted the agreement with IMG "actually allows Whan to find a better deal for the Mission Hills event, rather than just taking the first seemingly good deal." Whan said that the LPGA is "actively talking to many companies, some from Asia and 'a couple' based in the United States." He reiterated that the LPGA is "looking for a minimum five-year deal for a new title sponsor, saying three-year deals might be good for regular tour events but not major championships." Whan said that the LPGA has "trademarked a few different names that he's not ready to reveal." As for TV, Whan said that he has "pushed for network coverage of big events, but he is also happy with what he called the wall-to-wall coverage that Golf Channel provides the desert tournament" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 8/19).
A LOTTE LEFT TO DO: In Hawaii, Bill Cresenzo noted Japan- and South Korea-based food conglomerate Lotte has "signed on for at least three more years" as title sponsor of the LPGA's lone Hawaii event, and the "purse will be increased" by $100,000 to $1.8M in '15. However, Tournament Dir Justin George said that whether the event "will be played at the Ko Olina Golf Club at the Ko Olina Resort remains to be seen." The JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa has "served as the tournament's host hotel but is scheduled to close in 2015 for renovations" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/18).