Daunting challenges ahead for LPGA commissioner Whan

By Randall MellOctober 29, 2009, 1:40 am

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The Scots know how to endure the trials and tribulations the ancient game presents.

They love the game they invented so much they eagerly play through the frigid torment their rugged weather often brings.

So maybe Michael P. Whan was born for the daunting challenges that lie ahead as the LPGA’s new commissioner.

Whan has Scottish blood coursing through his veins. That’s among the many things we learned today about the man whose introduction Wednesday as the association’s eighth commissioner caught so many golf observers by surprise. He’s somewhat of a mystery man to most golf fans though he has strong ties to the game beyond his heritage. Whan’s Scottish ancestors actually went by the name MacWhan.

“We lost the Mac somewhere along the line,” Whan, 44, said in his introductory news conference at Madison Square Garden .

We’ve also learned something odd about the LPGA’s newest leader. He was unemployed when the LPGA finalized his hiring this week. That sounds a lot worse than it is. The fact that he has spent most of the past year working as a consultant is a testament to the work he did in his last position as the chief executive officer at Mission Itech Hockey, where he transformed the smallish hockey equipment company into a property so valued it became the darling of larger companies. Mission Itech Hockey has been bought and sold twice in the last year.

LPGA COMMISSIONERS

Ray Volpe (July 1975 – March 1982)

John Laupheimer (April 1982 – Nov. 1988)

Bill Blue (Dec. 1988 – Sept. 1990)

Charile Mechem (Nov. 1990 – Dec. 1995)

Jim Ritts (Jan. 1996 – March 1999)

Ty Votaw (March 1999 – Sept. 2005)

Carolyn Bivens (Sept. 2005 – July 2009)

Marty Evans* (July 2009 – Jan. 2010)

Michael Whan (Jan. 2010 – ?)

(*Acting commissioner)

“I think Mike’s a really good selection as LPGA commissioner,” said Mark King, chief executive officer of TaylorMade Golf. “The reasons are that he’s very, very smart. He’s very aggressive, and he’s a world-class marketer.”

King should know. Whan worked under him at TaylorMade in the late ‘90s. Whan worked his way up to executive vice president/general manager of TaylorMade North America, but King said Whan impressed him long before he even arrived at TaylorMade. Whan grew up in Chicago, but his family moved to Cincinnati before his freshman year of high school. After graduating from Miami of Ohio, he went to work for Procter & Gamble, where he was a rising star in the brand and marketing departments.

“Mike ran the company’s Crest brand at a young age,” King said. “That’s a diamond brand. If you run Procter & Gamble’s Crest brand, you are a superstar.

“When Mike came here, I saw his passion and desire to succeed. I’m a big fan of his. I think he’ll do really well. He’s a forward thinker. He will look at the model the LPGA has today, and he’ll look at how it will be most relevant to sponsors. He’s got a fertile and creative marketing mind. He’ll find a way sponsors can be benefited most by the LPGA. I don’t think he’ll be a salesman. He’ll approach them as a partner in looking at how they can build their brands together. I think that’s what it will take.”

Whan left Procter & Gamble to get into the golf business, joining Wilson Sporting Goods as a vice president and general manger of its golf ball and glove business while also managing the marketing department and overseeing research and development. He went to TaylorMade from there. Whan’s future with the LPGA, however, may have been sealed outside the golf business.

Whan’s success at Mission Itech Hockey from 2002 through late last year serves as almost a model for what LPGA officials would like him to do with their tour.

Mission Hockey was a small hockey equipment company in California specializing in roller and ice hockey when Whan took over as CEO. He merged it with Itech, a Canadian hockey equipment company.

“Mission Hockey was a startup company that blew up with the explosion of roller hockey,” said Sean Riley, the brand manager at Mission Itech Hockey. “It had legs, great products, but it was a mess when Mike Whan got here. He was able to step in after multiple failures and turn it into a profitable business. He got the spending under control and put the structure in place to give it the ability to succeed.

“We were a very innovative company, pushing technology. We had some edgy marketing and tried some outlandish things.”

Riley said Whan’s gift is his ability to bring talent together, to get different entities to share a common goal and vision.

“He’s no micromanager,” Riley said. “He saw what we wanted to do, harnessed that and turned us loose. He was always looking at what’s next and was never one to sit on his hands. He was always looking at how to build the empire.”

King said LPGA staff can expect Whan to lead with a high-energy style.

“Mike defines high energy,” King said. “I’ve never met anybody who has more energy than Mike.”

If Whan has a grand plan, he isn’t sharing it yet. In fact, he says he will be doing a lot of studying before he assumes his new duties on Jan. 4.

“I have a personal philosophy about leadership that maybe not everybody understands,” Whan said. “ I believe in listen, learn and lead, and you do it in that order. You've got to listen so that you can learn, and once you've listened and learned, you're prepared to lead. So I tend to believe that my first few months in the position are going to be with pretty large ears and pretty small mouth because I've got more to learn than I've got to offer and beyond, but I can't wait to jump in.”

Whan is jumping in right away. He left his introductory news conference in New York Wednesday to fly to San Diego, where he will attend the LPGA’s Tournament Owners Association meetings.

There is lots of work to do there with the LPGA schedule expected to feature less than 25 tournaments next year, down from 34 last year.

“I've never been one that looks at words like issues or challenges or problems as bad words,” Whan said. “What they represent is tremendous upside potential. I can't wait to get started, not just because of the upside potential, not because of the base we've already built, but where we can really take the LPGA in the years to come.”

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”