Whan: Women's PGA not just evolving, but elevating event


Linda Hampton took a look at the LPGA Championship trophy and couldn’t help noticing the cosmic wonder in it.

Hampton is the tournament coordinator for the Rochester charitable foundation that will stage the 60th and final playing of the Wegmans LPGA Championship at Monroe Golf Club in suburban Rochester, N.Y., in August.

The LPGA Championship got its start in 1955, when Beverly Hanson won that inaugural event. Every winner’s name is inscribed upon the trophy, from Hanson to Inbee Park, who won the trophy last year.

“We noticed that the trophy has room for only one more winner’s name to be inscribed on it,” Hampton said. “Who knows? Maybe this was all meant to be.”

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will pick up the mantle for the LPGA Championship, the tour’s flagship event. This year’s winner will have her name inscribed in that lone remaining spot on the trophy as the last to win the LPGA Championship.

Tour commissioner Mike Whan was asked during Thursday’s news conference about the difficulty of dropping the LPGA Championship’s name from the event when talks developed with PGA CEO Pete Bevacqua.

“When Pete and I started talking about this from the beginning, one of the things we talked about is, if the PGA Championship is going to be involved, we want to call it the PGA Championship,” Whan said. “I did kind of a goodbye and high five at the same tame. He said, `What was that?’ I said, `Losing the LPGA Championship is tough, but change is tough.’

“Also, adding Women's PGA Championship is prominent, it’s powerful, and it sends a message that we are not just evolving this championship, we are elevating it. If you don't either believe that, or understand that, hang on for 2015 and Westchester Country Club, because you are going to see what I talked about in the beginning. You are going to see elevation.

“I think the name actually fits, if you will, what's going on. We are taking 60 years of history, we are certainly not throwing that away. You will see all the history and tradition of the LPGA Championship, if you come or watch this on TV. We are respecting that, and you will see that throughout the venue. But the name will become slightly different and so will the championship.

“I said this to Stacy Lewis when I saw her this morning: `One thing that's true in golf is change is tough, it creates some anxiety, but if you're not willing to change, you're the same tour as you were in 1950, and I'm not going to be the same tour in 2017 that we were in 2014.’ We are going to be bold enough to make changes that allow us to think really big.”