The women's tour's longest-tenured leader hails LPGA's direction as he announces his pending resignation entering his 12th season
Whan, the LPGA’s eighth and longest-serving leader, recently completed his 11th season with the tour. No date for his resignation was disclosed, and no replacement has been announced.
In a letter to the LPGA’s staff, players and sponsors, Whan wrote, “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.”
In November 2019, Whan signed what the LPGA called "a long-term contract" without elaborating on the terms. That followed a six-year contract extension that the LPGA had announced in 2015.
Whan, 55, rescued the LPGA after a tumultuous four-year run under Carolyn Bivens marked by declining sponsorship and a player revolt ended in mid-2009. The Bivens era was marred by a failed attempt to enforce “English only” for the tour’s players, a growing number of whom were from South Korea. Bivens resigned when 15 of the top women’s players of the era – Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Lorena Ochoa and Se Ri Pak among them – signed a letter to the LPGA’s board demanding change.
They got it with Whan, and in a highly successful way.
Whan, whose career in sales and marketing included executive positions with Procter & Gamble, Wilson Sporting Goods and TaylorMade Golf, went about rebuilding the LPGA’s schedule and trust in the tour’s players.
“I simply wouldn’t leave the LPGA if I thought the future was uncertain or not trending straight up,” he wrote in his letter.
In rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted the tour to cancel 18 events last year, including all seven tournaments in Asia, the LPGA recently announced a 34-tournament schedule and a record $76.45 million in prize money.
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