happy to let USGA make Trump course decision
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[October 15, 2016]
By Peter Rutherford
INCHEON, South Korea (Reuters) - LPGA
chief Mike Whan says the Tour will back golf authorities no matter
what decision they make about hosting the 2017 US Women's Open at a
course owned by presidential nominee Donald Trump amid a storm over
sexually aggressive comments he made about women.
The United States Golf Association (USGA) is facing calls to move
the event from Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey in nine
months' time after a 2005 video surfaced in which he bragged of
kissing and groping women without consent.
Whan told Reuters in an interview on Saturday at the LPGA/KLPGA
co-sanctioned KEB Hana Bank Championship in Incheon that he was
"lucky" not to have to make that kind of decision.
The U.S. Women's Open, the most prestigious tournament in ladies
golf, is conducted by the USGA.
"In a strange way I'm lucky that the LPGA has no direct dealings
with Donald Trump or Donald Trump properties," he said.
"Like any group we have people who are political in favor of
different sides. I'm not here to be a politician, I know that what
the players want is that I don't get so political as to limit
opportunities for women.
"All I've said to the USGA is this, 'You have long since proven you
support women's golf so if you tell us this is the right place to
play then we're right there with you.'"
Whan took over in 2010 when the LPGA Tour was buckling from the
fallout of the U.S. recession and his push for global growth has
been a key factor in the circuit's resurgence.
One look at his business card tells you everything you need to know
about his strategy for growing the women's game -- the word
"commissioner" emblazoned in English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese.
Whan said he hoped the global flavor of the Tour's schedule and
sponsorship could help mitigate the effects of another downturn at
"In the world of finance we have a pretty diverse portfolio," he
said of a tour which makes stops in China, Japan, Malaysia, Korea
and Taiwan in a late season Asian swing.
[to top of second column]
Real estate developer Donald Trump attends a news conference with
the PGA in New York May 1, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
More than a third of the circuit's tournaments are sponsored by
Asian firms or organizations.
"It used to be that one U.S. economic downturn could really cripple
the LPGA," he added. "I'm not saying that wouldn't happen tomorrow,
but generally speaking we are pretty well diversified regionally."
Whan said now that the Tour had been put on a solid footing, with 33
official money events this year compared to 23 in 2011, the task was
to boost the dollar value of tournaments rather than add new ones.
"I think we need to be playing for $100 million in purse money," he
said of future targets. "I said that back in 2010 and people thought
I was nuts, but that was when we were playing for $30 million.
"Now we're play for $65 million and I think we'll get there."
The decision to add a fifth major to the annual tour schedule, the
Evian Championship, was met with scorn by traditionalists and those
outside the LPGA but Whan said it would be a mistake to be stuck in
"Sports that are unwilling to change because of history and
tradition become historic and traditional," he added. "If we just
want golf to be historic and traditional and not move forward, then
we would have a real problem."
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)
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