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LPGA commissioner Mike Whan announces shock departure

55-year-old says he wants to leave women's golf tour on an upward curve.

7 January 2021 PA

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan will step down in 2021 after 11 years in the role, the US-based women's golf tour has announced.

No firm date has been set for Whan’s departure, but the search has begun for the 55-year-old’s successor.

'When I first joined the LPGA, I told the board it would be a four-year term, giving me time to help the organization achieve its immediate goals,' Whan wrote in a letter to LPGA staff, players and sponsors.

'Now, as the longest-serving LPGA Commissioner, I look back on these 11 years with enormous pride and satisfaction at what we’ve accomplished together to provide opportunities for women to achieve their dreams in golf.

'You may be wondering why I’ve made the decision to step down – and why now? In many ways, this past year – with all the pandemic challenges – was also the LPGA’s most triumphant.

'We are entering 2021 on a wave of momentum – a strong schedule with record purses, new events/sponsors, double-digit viewership growth, and a talented team that demonstrated exceptional skill, resilience and capability to lead through challenging times.

'I simply wouldn’t leave the LPGA if I thought the future was uncertain or not trending straight up. In fact, even after the challenges we faced in 2020, the LPGA has never been more financially secure, deeper in leadership talent, or more anchored by passionate, diverse sponsors from all around the world.

'The LPGA is poised for even greater heights; and as such, I’m excited to hand the baton to the next leader and become their biggest supporter.

'One of the hardest jobs of a leader is to know when their work is done. If the Covid-19 pandemic taught me anything, it was that the LPGA executive staff has full control of our business and is capable of incredible things.

'We have leaders who are visionary, compassionate, collaborative and humble. You may not agree with every decision they make, but they have led our Tours to new heights virtually every year.'

Whan was a key figure in the LPGA and Ladies European Tour (LET) agreeing to a joint venture which was approved by the LET in November 2019.

The partnership aims to offer LET members more playing opportunities on the far more lucrative LPGA, which in 2019 had a total prize fund of approximately UK£55 million (US$74.6 million) compared to around UK£12 million (US$16.2 million) on the LET.

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