LPGA Commissioner Whan eyes a 'grander stage'

Thu Apr 2, 2015 6:44pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

RANCHO MIRAGE, California (Reuters) - Since taking over as LPGA Commissioner in 2010, Mike Whan has weathered the end of an economic downturn and put the women's tour on a strong financial footing by adding new sponsors and events.

However, Whan has never been a big fan of the status quo and has set his sights on establishing a "grander stage" for the LPGA Tour by giving it increased television exposure and making it more on a par with the men's equivalent for prize money.

"A typical men's PGA Tour event has the exposure of a major," Whan told Reuters during this week's ANA Inspiration, the opening women's major of the year, at Mission Hills Country Club.

"So how do we get that grander stage on a regular basis with the LPGA? Last week, Cristie Kerr probably made about as much money as somebody who came in 10th place at a similar event on the PGA Tour."

American Kerr, a former world number one who has claimed two major titles, earned a check for $255,000 with her victory at the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, California.

That same day, little-known American Scott Pinckney came away with $179,800 after tying for eighth at the PGA Tour's Texas Open.

"If we can expand that viewership footprint for the LPGA, we will create greater purse opportunities, greater financial opportunities," said Whan.

"Generally speaking, once you've made it to the PGA Tour, you're financially set. On the women's side, making it to the LPGA Tour is just phase one. Phase two is making it on the LPGA Tour financially."   Continued...