Date: April 01, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

LPGA call a boon for Australian Open

Golf Australia has welcomed the extension of LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan’s contract through 2020.

As one of the driving forces in putting the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open on the LPGA Tour, Whan’s contract news delighted tournament director Trevor Herden.

“Mike is a great friend of Australian golf and, like us, shares a vision for the continued growth of theWomen’s  Australian Open,” Herden said.

“The continuity in our planning around the tournament that his extension will bring is a huge win for women’s golf in Australia.

“It’s great news because he’s a great supporter of what we’re trying to achieve in the long term.”

The Tour’s players and staff were informed of their board’s decision today as they prepared for the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills, California.

“We’ve built a terrific team here at the LPGA and clearly we are seeing momentum build for all parts of the organisation,” Whan said.

“I am excited about remaining a part of the future and look forward to accomplishing many more things as we continue to put the LPGA on a bigger platform.

"I was honoured to be asked. I always say in board meetings, `I'm proud to be part of this crazy family,' because that is what it is.

“It's kind of a crazy travelling family. I feel like I'm part of the family, and I feel like we've got a long way to go."

Whan, 50, took over the tour in January 2010, five months after Carolyn Bivens resigned when players wrote a letter to the board calling for her to quit.

He has since helped the tour grow from 23 events and $US40million in total purses in 2010 to 33 events and more than $US60million in purses this year.

"I don't want to be remembered as the team that brought us from 23 to 33 events," Whan said.

"That seems incredibly underwhelming and unfulfilling. It just seems there is a lot more we can do."

Television coverage of the Tour has doubled, going from 200 hours per year that was mostly tape-delayed to 400 hours of coverage this year with more than 90 per cent of it live.