LPGA commissioner likes having many winners on tour

November 16, 2018 - 1:25 pm

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — The LPGA will have either 25 or 26 different winners in 32 events this season, depending on what happens when the final putt of the CME Group Tour Championship drops Sunday.

Commissioner Mike Whan is just fine with that sort of diversity.

Whan delivered his annual "state of the LPGA" address Friday during the second round of the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, revealing that next year's total purses will exceed $70 million for the first time. A new sponsor for the Women's British Open will be revealed soon, and the entire 2019 schedule is expected by the end of the month.

And having a tour where women from 10 countries so far this year are winning is just fine with Whan.

"I'd definitely prefer the top 10 players in the world rankings come from 10 different countries," Whan said. "And the reason is, if I get one player that wins 33 percent of the time she tees it up, when she doesn't tee it up it's not the same event."

Only four women have won multiple tournaments this season — player of the year Ariya Jutanugarn has three wins, as does Sung Hyun Park. Nasa Hataoka and Brooke Henderson are two-time winners, and 21 other women have prevailed once.

The tour will set a record for purses in 2019 for the third straight year, bolstered in large part by CME Group raising the purse for the tour championship from $2.5 million to $5 million next year. The only event with a $5 million purse in 2018 was the U.S. Women's Open. That seems likely to rise next year, since Whan said the CME event would not have the biggest purse on tour in 2019.

Whan said the variety of winners from the variety of nations — which isn't a new concept for women's golf — is a precursor for what he expects to see in men's golf within the next decade, and he's convinced the game will be better for that.

"It's good for our business," Whan said. "Success from all over the world means TV interest from all over the world."

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