“I truly feel like sometimes athletes in general can sometimes forget where we all come from. A decade ago I wasn’t playing for money, just a trophy and love of the game. The Founders of the LPGA didn't have the endorsement opportunities that we have today. I am so proud of Mike Whan's vision, for remembering it’s not just about the future of the game, but also about remembering and honoring the past.” Christina Kim, two-time LPGA Tour winner and U.S. Solheim Cup Team member.
The best of the LPGA Tour will descend upon Wildfire Golf Club at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa this week for the inaugural playing of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup – a special tournament to honor the past, showcase the present and provide for the future of the LPGA and women’s golf. The 54-hole event, with a field of 134 players, will help raise funds to grow the game at a grass-roots level much as Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork, Louise Suggs, Marlene Bauer Hagge, Bettye Danoff and the eight other LPGA Founders first set out to accomplish more than 60 years ago. Players will forgo tournament earnings in support of the LPGA Foundation and its LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program which impacted more than 6,600 girls in 2010. In addition, players will compete for an additional $500,000 charitable pool to be shared by the top-10 finishers in the tournament.
“The heart and soul of the LPGA association is embodied by its gifted and engaged players, who to this day still embrace the same primary responsibility established by the LPGA’s Founders: To leave the Tour better than how they found it,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. “The LPGA vision is to inspire, empower and educate, and thanks to the best female golfers in the world, and our visionary partner RR Donnelley, we will be doing just that at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.”
The RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup marks the return of the LPGA to the Phoenix area for the first time since 2009. The LPGA, its players and title sponsor RR Donnelley share a collective responsibility to honor the history of the LPGA and a commitment to the future of the women’s game. The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) was established in 1950 by 13 brave women who set stereotypes aside to provide economic opportunities for women and girls. The LPGA owes its long and distinguished history to the hard work and dedication of these 13 women who not only formed the Association, but also organized tournaments, drafted by-laws, set up golf courses and did everything necessary to make professional golf a possibility for women.
“Not only am I proud to be a Founder of the LPGA, but I could not be happier that RR Donnelley and the LPGA are coming together to honor the work we did and also give back to the game,” said Louise Suggs, a 58-time LPGA winner including 11 major championships.
The tournament will raise $500,000 for LPGA-USGA Girls Golf (Girls Golf). The program, originally established in Phoenix by LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Sandy LaBauve, is the LPGA's primary junior golf initiative which introduces girls from the ages of 7 to 17 to all areas of the game. Many LPGA members, including 2010 LPGA-USGA Girls Golf National Ambassador Brittany Lincicome, Amanda Blumenherst and Vicky Hurst, were introduced to the game of golf through Girls Golf. The program is supported by all of the major golf organizations led by the USGA, but also including the EWGA (Executive Women’s Golf Association), PGA Tour, PGA of America and the Masters Tournament. In recent years, LPGA players have made significant donations to the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program, including 2008 U.S. Women’s Open champion Inbee Park, who donated $50,000 in 2008, and four-time LPGA Tour winner Na Yeon Choi, who donated $30,000 last year.
“The RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup represents more than the game of golf,” said Thomas J. Quinlan III, RR Donnelley’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “The event will help secure the future by raising funds to teach young women and girls the life skills inherent in the game itself – patience, perseverance, honesty and respect – providing them with the building blocks to become future role models both on and off the golf course. At the same time, the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup salutes the past contributions of the 13 Founders of the LPGA and showcases the very best in women’s golf of today.”
The RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup is an official LPGA event and provides players the opportunity to earn points towards the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame and Rolex Rankings. Results will also impact the 2011 races, including Rolex Player of the Year, Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year and Vare Trophy. While players will not receive prize money, the field will compete for a $1million purse which will impact the 2011 LPGA Official money list.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the LPGA,” said LPGA Tour player Kristy McPherson. “We have a chance to go do something great, and with the help of RR Donnelley we’re going to be able to do that.”
The tournament will not only give fans the chance to watch the best of today’s players, but will also give them a glimpse of the past. LPGA Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Louise Suggs and LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame members, Betsy King, Patty Sheehan, Nancy Lopez and Pat Bradley will make special appearances at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. King, Sheehan, Lopez and Bradley will play an 18-hole exhibition match, Friday, March 18, on the tournament course.