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Volume 26 No. 202
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Weekend Plans With LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan: Trip To Asia, Accommodating Sponsors

LPGA Commissioner MIKE WHAN this weekend is making the long voyage to Taipei, Taiwan with the tour in the midst of a month-long swing of Asia. This is the third consecutive year that the LPGA's Taiwan Championship will be title sponsored by Fubon Financial and played at Miramar Golf Country Club. Although Whan has made the trip east several times, this time he will be joined by a very special guest, his wife MEG. He said, “It is going to be her first-ever trip to Asia. In my seven years as Commissioner, she has probably been to five events. In two-and-a-half weeks, we will be in six countries. I am pretty sure this might be her first and last trip where she enjoys traveling to Asia with me. But we will see.”

NO REST FOR THE WEARY: I arrive in Taipei on Friday night and have a dinner with the leaders of the Taiwan LPGA. Our event this weekend is co-sanctioned with them and we have 15 Taiwanese players in the tournament. Hopefully, I will be falling asleep after that considering the 30 hours of traveling. On Saturday morning, I have breakfast with a prospective sponsor that is a Taiwanese-based company. I then have lunch with a group called Swinging Skirts, which is a charitable foundation whose sole purpose is to grow opportunity and progress women’s golf around the world. They are the title sponsor of an event we have in S.F. That will be a lunch where I will probably be the only person not in a skirt. Later in the evening, I have a dinner with a member of the LPGA Foundation Board who is going to be in town from Atlanta for other business.

SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE: Sunday morning leads into my brunch with the event’s title sponsor, Fubon. Sunday afternoon will be filled with a series of interviews with Taiwanese media. Our first presser in Taipei when the tournament started six years ago is still in my experience the biggest press conference I have ever been a part of. It was the only LPGA event in my tenure that we had to stop letting people in. There must have been 70 TV cameras and 700 members of the media. We ended up holding it in a square downtown because there was no way we could fit everyone in a hotel or tent. We give the trophy away late Sunday afternoon and I have a 7:00pm flight to South Korea for next week’s stop. We have a press conference scheduled first thing Monday morning with a Korean-based company that is going to sponsor one of our events in the U.S.

SUSTAINING GROWTH: We used to never have anyone from the U.S. follow us or try to understand why we play around the world. In the last few years, a lot of our biggest American media followers have now scheduled trips. Once you attend an LPGA event in Asia, you instantly get it. This is huge. There are a ton of females here under the age of 15 and there is no way this experience does not have these young girls thinking about golf differently. If you really want to grow the game globally, you can’t do that from your desk and simply just send your telecast out every week.