LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens announced an agreement Thursday that makes J Golf the tours official Korean media rights partner starting next year.
J Golf, a division of JBC, will have exclusive broadcast rights within Korea for nearly all LPGA events through 2014. It is the countrys leading cable and satellite provider, reaching 8 million households.
As part of the deal, JBC will underwrite an event in the Los Angeles area for five years, with the location and tournament name to be announced later.
The tour has been absent from the area since 2005, when the Office Depot Championship was last played at Donald Trumps course in suburban Rancho Palos Verdes. Before that, the event frequently moved around and changed sponsors.
The tour currently plays three events in California, including its first major championship, the Kraft Nabisco in Rancho Mirage on April 2-5.
JBC has also taken over title sponsorship rights to this years Phoenix LPGA International, with the tournament name to be unveiled later. The company also has the rights to create and operate the official Korean-language Web site of the LPGA.
J Golf currently owns the broadcast rights in Korea for the Korea LPGA, Ladies Professional Golfers Association of Japan, PGA European Tour and the Ladies European Tour.
This is the largest contract ever signed in the history of the LPGA, Bivens said on a conference call following the announcement in Beverly Hills. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The deal followed Wednesdays news of a 10-year agreement with Golf Channel that makes the network the tours exclusive cable home starting next year. The tour will receive a rights fee for domestic broadcast coverage.
It really shows the progress of womens golf and the positive direction were moving in, said tour player Sherri Steinhauer, who is on the tours board of directors.
The two contracts come at a time when the tour is offering three fewer tournaments this year because sponsorships were lost due to the failing economy. Prize money also has been reduced by about $5 million.
In some of the most difficult economic times in our lifetimes, were able to show an around-the-world investment in the women of the LPGA, Bivens said.
Asian players have dominated the tour in recent years, winning three of the four majors in 2008. LPGA Tour membership includes 121 international players from 26 countries, including 45 from South Korea.
Besides televising LPGA tournaments, J Golf will produce event programming involving the tour.
JBC is owned by JoongAng Ilbo, a major Korean media conglomerate headquartered in South Korea that also includes Forbes Korea and Newsweek Korea. JBC includes J Golf, Q Channel and Cartoon Network.