Driving Force

Paul Prendergast talks to Commissioner Mike Whan, the man behind the LPGA Tour’s resurrection

Firstly, congratulations on what has been a successful 2014 …

Thank you very much. It’s been a good few years. We’re on a nice run right now which makes me nervous because falling back is not an option! [Laughs].

What have been your personal highlights on Tour in the past 12 months?

I can think of a handful. Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson battling away early in the year in the desert at the Kraft Nabisco - we probably should have known then that something special was coming.

I would say the back-to-back Opens at Pinehurst was a special moment for golf and Michelle and Stacy [Lewis] battling for that made it even more interesting. I’ve been on Tour enough to see Michelle Wie before school, going to school and after school and I know how hard she’s worked, not only to get her degree, but to get her game back in shape so that was an exciting moment.

I think the highlight for me was the International Crown, although I don’t know that the rest of the media and fans would say that. One of the things I always tell my team is that our job is to bring something new and exciting every year even if the media and fans might not be ready for it. That takes us back to the Founders Cup and the Race to the Globe but in 2014, it was introducing the International Crown which turned out to be a huge success.

When you’re launching something that hasn’t been done before: a format, a qualification process - you’re nervous because everything about it was different. We literally stole from nobody to create the International Crown so I was nervous!

I wanted to make sure that the countries competing cared, the players cared and the format worked so Sunday at the International Crown was probably my proudest moment.

My last moment for the year was probably standing on the 18th green handing the inaugural CME Race to the Globe trophy over. It was such a big moment in the women’s game.

Naples is always the season ender for us and we always get a ton of our customers and season partners come in so we’re really surrounded by family at that event. It was pretty neat night and then giving the Globe away to Lydia Ko, it was a pretty good week for a commissioner.


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