Michael Whan named new LPGA commissioner

By Randall MellOctober 28, 2009, 6:10 pm
LPGA Tour _newMichael Whan is the LPGA’s new commissioner.

Whan, 44, a former executive vice president of TaylorMade Adidas Golf North America, was approved as the tour’s next leader in a vote of the LPGA’s Board of Directors Tuesday night when GolfChannel.com first reported the news. He was introduced in a news conference Wednesday morning at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Whan comes to the tour from Mission-ITECH Hockey, a company makes and markets hockey gear for players on ice skates or roller blades.

Whan will officially assume his duties on Jan. 4, 2010.

Whan’s hiring comes as a surprise. His name never surfaced publicly in the interview process. He will take over for Marty Evans, who was named acting commissioner after Carolyn Bivens was forced out in a player revolt in July.
Michael Whan
Michael Whan, the LPGA's new commissioner. (Getty Images)
“It’s rare to work for an organization that combines all the passions in your life, but with the LPGA, I feel I’ve been presented with the unique opportunity to do just that,” Whan said. “First, this is an association surrounded by passionate, value-driven people. Second, I’m energized by the brand building and the work involved in marketing and growing the sport. Third, I simply love the game of golf – both the life lessons it teaches and the friendships it helps create.”

Considered perhaps the most important hire in the history of the LPGA, Whan inherits an organization faced with considerable challenges. The LPGA has announced just 18 tournaments as under contract for next year and projects having between 22 and 25 on the schedule next year. The tour hasn’t put out a schedule with fewer than 25 tournaments since 1971. There are 27 tournaments on this year’s schedule, down from 34 last year. Cumulative prize money for next year could dip to below $40 million, down from $64 million last year.

Whan served as executive vice president of TaylorMade from 1996 to 2000, leaving the position to become president of worldwide marketing for Britesmile, Inc. He was described as a “seasoned marketing executive” in Britesmile’s news release announcing his hiring. Before joining TaylorMade, Whan held various positions at Procter & Gamble between 1987 and '95, including director of marketing.

With the LPGA trying to rebuild relationships with title sponsors lost over the last two seasons, Whan will have little time to acclimate to the job. After forcing out Bivens, tour players issued a mandate to acting commissioner Evans that they wanted her to focus on seeking more playing opportunities. That mandate will carry over to Whan. His challenge will be luring back long-time title sponsors as well as attracting new ones.

The LPGA has challenges beyond the poor economic climate. With Lorena Ochoa’s play dropping off, the LPGA lacks a dominant star. With South Korea continuing to rise as the tour’s dominant force, there is a troubling disconnection with too many English speaking fans. With Americans struggling to win on the American-based tour, there’s a disconnection at home, where there are fewer and fewer domestic events on the schedule. These are among the reasons this hire was considered so critical.

The fact that the general public won't be familiar with Whan's name, or his credentials, may raise questions about who was and wasn't interested in the position. Whan, however, brings strong marketing credentials and a golf background Bivens didn't have.

Whan and his wife, Meg, and his three children, Austin (15), Wesley (13) and Connor (12), currently live in California and will relocate to the LPGA’s Daytona Beach, Fla., headquarters next year.

Note: Golf Central will have complete coverage of the news Wednesday at 6 p.m. and the news conference announcing Whan as commissioner will follow at 6:30 p.m.
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.