LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans among 2010 LPGA Tour schedule highlights
Calendar to feature 24 tournaments, including new events in Atlantic City, Acapulco and southern California
HOUSTON, Texas, Nov. 18, 2009 – Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Acting Commissioner Marty Evans today announced that the Tour will partner with long-time LPGA sponsor Wegmans to conduct the 2010 LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans. It will be among 24 official money events in 10 countries on the 2010 LPGA Tour.
The announcement was made during a press event at the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship Presented by Rolex.
“The Wegmans LPGA, Locust Hill Country Club and the Rochester community are all so important to the LPGA Tour, so it's only appropriate that they should host this prestigious championship in 2010,” said Evans. “We are grateful to Colleen Wegman and Wegmans Food Markets for their continued commitment to the LPGA, and look forward to working closely with them while concurrently continuing our discussions with potential long-term partners for the LPGA Championship.”
The 2010 LPGA Championship will be the second LPGA Tour major conducted during the season. It will be played at the site of the Wegmans LPGA event in Pittsford, New York from June 21-27, 2010.
“It is an honor for Wegmans to be Presenting Sponsor for the 2010 LPGA Championship and also to bring a major championship event to Locust Hill Country Club and the Rochester community,” said Wegman. “It was my Grandfather's dream to host a major LPGA Championship event in Rochester. We will work on his behalf to make the 2010 LPGA Championship the best ever.”
Among other highlights of the LPGA Tour schedule released today:
- The LPGA Classic Presented by J Golf will be played at the prestigious La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California, outside of San Diego, the week prior to the Kraft Nabisco Championship;
- The Bell Micro LPGA Classic returns after a one-year hiatus to allow a shift from the fall to the spring, to be held the week of May 10-16;
- After a three-year absence from Atlantic City, the LPGA Tour returns to the New Jersey coastal area with long-time supporter ShopRite as the title sponsor;
- The Evian Masters returns to the LPGA Tour featuring a purse of $3,250,000.
“We have made great strides in our long-term goal of building an intelligent and sustainable schedule for the LPGA Tour,” said Evans. “The LPGA Tour competition has been great this year, and in particular the last few weeks. We also have exciting, energizing leadership in place with incoming Commissioner Mike Whan ready to take the reins. We look forward to a wonderful season finale this week and a bright future for the LPGA Tour in 2010 and beyond.”
LPGA Schedule Announcement Press Conference
Sugar Land, Texas City Hall
Acting LPGA Commissioner Marty Evans
DAVID HIGDON: Good morning, everyone. Thanks for coming this morning to wonderful Sugar Land City Hall. It's a big day for the LPGA, and we're all glad you could be here.
Before I bring up Marty Evans for her to give her State of the Tour address as well as the 2010 schedule, I'd like to acknowledge a few people to whom you can speak afterwards. First we have our incoming commissioner Mike Whan who is over here, so if anyone wants to speak to him afterwards he'll certainly be available, and in the third row here we have Gail Graham, president of the Tournament Owners Association. She'll also be available afterwards.
Without further ado I'd like to introduce the LPGA acting commissioner, Marty Evans.
MARTY EVANS: Thank you, David, and thanks to each of you for coming out this morning. It is a great day for the LPGA. Before I discuss the future, which is, of course, the main focus today, I thought I'd reflect a little bit on the past year. I, of course, became involved with the LPGA just at the beginning of this year on the board. And as I look over the whole year, I think that at least from my perspective, it's been a very exciting season, and many positive steps have been taken in 2009.
From our first event in Hawai'i when Angela Stanford and Michelle Wie battled down to the wire, we witnessed an amazing year on the links, one I believe will go down in history as a transformative one for the LPGA and specifically for women's golf globally. We had different 20 winners on the LPGA Tour in 2009 and seven Rolex first-time winners.
We've enjoyed a Rolex Player of the Year race that will not be determined until Sunday. That has not happened on the Tour for 15 years, way back in 1994 when Beth Daniel edged out Laura Davies. And we have a rookie class that already looks to be a group of amazing athletes and superb role models that will represent this association for many years to come.
The rookie class of 2009 includes Jiyai Shin of South Korea, currently trying to match Nancy Lopez' record back in 1978 as the winner of both the Rolex Rookie of the Year and Rolex Player of the Year awards; Michelle Wie from the U.S., who shined at the Solheim Cup, nailed her presentation at the IOC meeting to help golf secure a place in the 2016 Olympics, and is still celebrating from her first Tour win three days ago in Guadalajara; Anna Nordqvist, who won the LPGA Championship and reminds us all of another talented former LPGA Tour player hailing from Sweden; Vicky Hurst, whose bright smile and effervescent personality outside the ropes is perfectly matched with her killer instinct and competitive spirit inside the ropes. There's Mika Miyazato of Japan, who first showcased her promise to the world in February in Thailand; Stacy Lewis from Texas, whose story is an inspiration to all those who aspire to greatness in sports and life; and South Korea's M.J. Hur, who earned her card on the Duramed Futures Tour and won her first LPGA Tour event just a couple months ago in Portland at the Safeway Classic.
In February the LPGA made two announcements that will change the face of this Tour for the next decade. First, we established a five-year partnership with J Golf, a burgeoning media entity in South Korea that will transform the way the LPGA Tour is showcased not only in South Korea but also here in the United States and other countries around the world. They are presenting sponsor of a new event in the San Diego area, and they will also produce a Korean language website for the LPGA next season.
We also entered a very important new partnership with the Golf Channel, making them the home of the LPGA Tour from 2010 to 2019. They will be fabulous partners. They already are, for the LPGA. Their promotion team was in Mexico this past week and here yesterday filming our players for next year's broadcast. We are thrilled to have such an innovative, creative group working with us and broadcasting the sport's greatest ambassadors around the world.
On Monday we officially announced our intent to make the LPGA Outside the Ropes initiative part of the week-to-week fabric of the 2010 LPGA Tour. The initiative launched in May this year has been a resounding success as our players have embraced our call to reach out even more to sponsors, fans and many of you here today from the media.
We have many exciting plans for next season, and I know that Mike and David Higdon and the communications team will be working closely with many of you to help share a unique side of the LPGA with your readers, viewers and followers.
Today I'm pleased to announce that Prudential, Choice Hotels International, Blue Diamond Almonds, Getty Images, Canyon Ranch and Smuckers have recently renewed their corporate partnership programs with the LPGA. They will continue to support the LPGA tournaments, players and fans for 2010 and beyond, and in addition Florida's Natural joins as a new member of the LPGA corporate partnership family. Additional corporate partnership renewal announcements will be made in the next several weeks.
I took on the role of acting commissioner in July, and the experience I've enjoyed since then has truly been amazing. The LPGA Tour remains the preeminent sports association in the world, and there is no doubt that we are poised for greater things in the years ahead. Never did it hit me more than a couple weeks ago in South Korea, where there is a national craze for golf and for women's golf in particular, and where recession economics are perhaps a memory. There we're in talks with a number of companies wanting to sponsor tournaments.
The LPGA's calendar for 2010 that we are unveiling today shows that not only are we an attractive property in Asia and nearly every other corner of the world, but we have maintained our strong foundation here in the United States. So let me now walk you through the 2010 calendar which will feature 24 tournaments. 23 events are scheduled and listed on our calendar distributed today, plus one more in South Korea, and I will discuss that later on in my remarks.
We will begin the year in February with two season-opening events in Thailand and Singapore. They will be followed by two U.S. events, a new J Golf event at the venerable La Costa course, which is south of San Diego, and I mentioned that earlier. It'll be followed by the traditional first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Palm Springs. It'll be hard to match the excitement that Brittany Lincicome provided with her eagle on 18, but the Kraft Nabisco Championship always seems to provide a great kick-start and splash to the season.
Over the next several months, we'll have two events returning to the LPGA Tour calendar, the Bell Micro LPGA Classic, which was held in the fall of 2008, then took a year off to shift to the spring, will be played May 13th through 16th.
We're also pleased to return to the Dolce Seaview Resort in Atlantic City for the Shoprite LPGA Classic. Nothing is more encouraging to our members and our business than hearing the words, "We want you back." The Shoprite LPGA Classic will be held a week prior to the second major of the year, the LPGA Championship.
I'm extremely excited to announce this morning that the LPGA Championship for 2010 will be presented by our long-term partner and friends, Wegmans. The 2010 LPGA Championship presented by Wegmans will feature a purse of $2.25 million and a deep field of LPGA stars.
We are thrilled that Wegmans and the entire LPGA Wegmans team have kicked up the partnership a notch, a significant notch, for this coming season, and we are continuing discussions with several interested parties on the long-term partnership for the LPGA Championship for 2011 and beyond.
Independence Day will be spent in Toledo at the Jamie Farr, and the following week the LPGA players will be center stage at another renowned golf course, Oakmont Country Club, outside Pittsburgh, for the 2010 U.S. Open.
Our traditional European spring will follow with a prestigious one-two punch, the Evian Masters and the Ricoh Women's British Open.
Our summer swing then will take us through the traditional popular stops in Oregon, Canada, Arkansas, Alabama, Northern California, and a new tournament next year in Acapulco.
Then we'll complete the season, as we did this year, with a great stretch, reflecting the global impact of the LPGA Tour by starting in Asia, moving to Mexico, and ending with the LPGA Tour Championship presented by Rolex.
With regard to Korea, we are continuing discussions with our partner Hana Financial Group. In the near future we expect to announce the specifics of our Korean event.
To conclude, I have been honored to serve as the acting commissioner, and I'm pleased to present on behalf of the LPGA what I hope you will agree is a solid schedule for next year, one that will provide a base from which the LPGA will grow. It has been a brief but very eventful few months as acting commissioner, and I've been touched by the generous support provided by countless friends and supporters of the association.
Next season, the LPGA will celebrate its 60th year, the longest-standing women's sports association in the world. This is obviously a resilient organization, and I wholeheartedly believe a resurgent one with a very bright future, particularly in the years ahead under the leadership of Mike Whan, who begins his tenure on January 4th.
I personally look forward to the days ahead here in Houston as the excitement builds towards Sunday's exciting finish. I also look forward to the month that follows as I continue to spend as much time as possible working with Mike as he prepares to take the reins heading into the new year.
My thanks to each of you, to all of you, that have and continue to support and cover the LPGA. I'd be happy to take your questions. Thank you so much.
Q. Would you put into perspective what was required for the schedule this year, the work that was done and how you feel about where you are?
MARTY EVANS: We had nine tournaments under contract on July the 13th when we started this, and the kind of headline I would give you is it was a total team effort. It was a fabulous effort that engaged the leadership and supporting team at the LPGA headquarters under Zayra Calderon, the executive vice president, who has that whole tournament business development area. It was a team effort that engaged the player directors, the outside directors who serve on the board of the LPGA. It was an effort that engaged the Tournament Owners Association, those individuals who are tournament owners and operators who were fabulous partners, and we got together in July.
We reached out to sponsors that we currently have, to previous sponsors, and we began -- we were talking, this was going on even before July 13th, talking to a number of prospective sponsors. I think when you kind of pull it all together, it was an amazing show of people who were just so committed to get the job done. In my former life, of course, in the military, there's no second place for not accomplishing the mission. You don't have a second prize. And I think it was like that. It was like, this is what we have to do, we're going to do everything it takes to get the job done, we're going to work as hard as we can, we're going to work as smart as we can, and we're not going to quit until we get the job done.
And I hope you'll agree that 24 tournaments is a great record, but more importantly I would say it's a platform to move forward, and that's what we needed was a momentum factor. It feels good today.
I can also tell you that the team I've been working with and continue to work with, we're not done. We're working hard for 2011 and beyond that, too.
Q. Can you just give us a little insight into how Wegmans became a sponsor, when that went down, and is this going to be a short-term, one-year deal?
MARTY EVANS: You know, I don't even remember how long ago it was that we decided to take on the LPGA Championship effort and at that point began talking with prospective sponsors. And of course the world changed. The recession hit and reverberated throughout the economy. We have had open and frankly enriching conversations with sponsors about what our needs are, what the opportunities are, our schedule, how it was shaping up. Wegmans in particular, we had discussions, this is in the June, early July time frame, but frankly we weren't getting very far in bringing just a regular tournament renewal to conclusion. But again, as I mentioned before, a full team effort, bringing to the table Hall-of-Famers like Nancy Lopez and really having great conversations openly and productive conversations with Wegmans.
So over the several months, we not only had a new contract with Wegmans, which of course has been announced, but really a growing, stronger partnership based on, I think, the whole idea of real partnership. And so we in the process or along the way, we also continue to talk with some companies that are very excited about the process of associating with or sponsoring the LPGA Championship. But as those discussions went along, it just became clear that 2011 was probably a more practical opportunity for us to bring on new title sponsors.
So we began talking with our current sponsors about what options. It's just a sign, I think, of a great partnership over 30 plus years with Wegmans. I think it's 30 plus years, a lot of years, decades, that in a time when we could use the assistance to give us some breathing room, they said, we'll step up to the plate.
So frankly it's thrilling to know that you have partners of that character that want so much for us to succeed, and it's, I think, a great day in the history of the partnership, and it's also a great day in the LPGA history that we can figure out how to get over some of the challenges.
Q. Is the 24 number pretty much set in stone, or could there be an announcement in January or February that you might add another tournament or two in 2010?
MARTY EVANS: Today what I've given you are tournaments under contract or ones that are very, very close, arrangement already drawn up. There's no magic to November 18th. I mean, we wanted to announce the schedule so we would know where everybody is going. We're continuing, even this morning we continue discussions with sponsors. I would say that in the main, those discussions are focused on 2011, and that's really what we're aiming for. But we have a number of conversations along varying points of that continuum from first introductions to signing a contract, and it just remains to be seen. But this is the schedule as of today.
You know, we're not going to stop any conversations just because it happens that today is the day we published the schedule.
Q. Do you have any sense going forward the next few years how many of the tournaments in 2011 and '12 and so on will be overseas events versus U.S. or a goal or a sense of the future?
MARTY EVANS: The world has gone global, and it's a cliché to say that the world is flat, to pick up Thomas Friedman's reference. I would say that there are great opportunities literally around the world. I went to the Japan and Korea events just two weeks ago, three weeks ago, and there was so much energy around the LPGA.
What we are finding in our conversations with prospective sponsors is it may be a U.S. company, but they want the event in some other part of the world because that's where their customers and clients are. So I think that if I had to predict, I normally don't predict for media, but if I had to predict, I would say this is a global Tour, and we will play in parts of the world that are -- four corners, and our players come from around the world, our business partners want to work with us around the world. That's kind of the way it is today and in the future.
I don't think particularly the players want to say, okay, we want 71 events here and 92 events here or whatever. We go where our players can play, where our partners can give us great opportunities, and it is around the world.
I would also say, too, that there will be some non-official events that are in some other places off the U.S. shore, as well, that will be announced later on.
Q. Can you talk about the Korea tournament?
MARTY EVANS: Well, I will tell you that just two, three weeks ago we had a very, very successful Hana Bank KOLON Championship. What I can say, because we're still in conversation, is we're building on that wonderfully successful event which our players loved. It was in a great location in a great country where the LPGA is very solidly supported; crowds were fabulous. So our intention is to build on the experience that we had in Korea with that tournament.
Q. Can you talk about what happened with Sybase and where they stand, and also Phoenix?
MARTY EVANS: Phoenix, let me just talk about Phoenix first. Phoenix is a fabulous location, great crowds, phenomenal support, wonderful volunteer base. We would love to go back to Phoenix. Quite frankly, it's the issue of finding a title sponsor, finding a sponsor for that event. But I would tell you we would love to go back to Phoenix because it's a great place to play golf from many perspectives.
With regard to Sybase, of course they have been a partner with us. We continue to discuss the opportunities with Sybase, but at this point they have not made a decision. They have not informed us of what their intentions are with respect to sponsorship. But we're very hopeful.
But that's an example, I think, of those continuing conversations.
Q. Could you also speak to the former ADT Championship, where that's at, and is it still part of the future?
MARTY EVANS: I'm going to refer you to ADT for that discussion. We would love to work with ADT again, but it's not on the roster this year.
Q. (Question regarding the format of ADT).
MARTY EVANS: We have not taken anything off the list of format possibilities. We're open to different formats going forward based on sponsors and obviously what's on the schedule.
Topics: Press Release