After 3 years, and more than 60,000 new girls in the game, LPGA makes long-term commitment to its innovative Phoenix tournament
Kathy Whitworth and Renee Powell to be honored as this year’s “Pioneers”
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA, November 4, 2013 – Commissioner Michael Whan today announced that the LPGA remains committed to bringing the Founders Cup to the Phoenix market for “many years to come,” with the 2014 Founders Cup set to take place March 20-23 at the Wildfire Golf Club at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa. Following three successful seasons, the Founders Cup will continue to build on its successful model of remembering the past, celebrating the present, and paying it forward to the future of women’s golf via the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program.
“When you develop a new, out-of-the-box idea, you need a strong corporate partner to help you bring it to life,” Whan said. “Three years ago, Tom Quinlan and his RR Donnelley team told me – if you can build it, we’ll help you get it off the ground. Now, after doing everything they said they would, they have committed to continue supporting the LPGA-USGA Girls-Golf program for many more years to come – that is a great partner.”
TWEET IT! It’s all about the past, the present and the future of women’s golf at the @lpga Founders Cup. Read more: LPGA.com LPGA Vision for Founders Cup Now Long-Term Reality
While RR Donnelley is stepping aside and the name of the new title sponsor for the Founders Cup will not be announced until the end of the year, Commissioner Whan made it quite clear the title sponsorship for the Phoenix event has been secured, ensuring that the LPGA Founders Cup will continue to follow the philosophy of the 13 LPGA Founders (leave the game better than you found it), for years to come.
“For the LPGA, the Founders Cup is MORE than just a tournament – it’s a chance to say ‘thank you’ to those who blazed the trail before us, and to make a real difference in the future of the game,” said Whan. “Our dream of bringing 50,000 new girls per year to the game of golf, is quickly becoming a reality.”
In three years on the LPGA schedule, the Founders Cup has generated $1.5M for LPGA-USGA Girls Golf. That money – and the exposure for Girls Golf generated by the global television and media coverage of the Founders Cup – has been a catalyst for rapid growth in the number of girls taking up the game. In 2010, prior to the launch of the Phoenix-based tournament, roughly 5,000 girls came through the Girls Golf program annually. In 2013, more than 30,000 are expected to participate in the program.
The LPGA & USGA’s initial vision of reaching 50,000 young women per year by 2016 through the Girls Golf program now appears very achievable, given a long-term agreement with both a new title sponsor and RR Donnelley’s continued support to grow the game. Thanks to the continued support of RR Donnelley, the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program will once again receive a $500,000 donation at this year’s event.
In celebrating the LPGA’s past, the 2014 Founders Cup will also honor two Pioneers who have left an indelible imprint on the LPGA. Kathy Whitworth and Renee Powell have been selected as this year’s Pioneers, as they are two women who were trailblazers and helped lead the way for the LPGA to become one of the premier women’s sports organizations in the world.
Whitworth, 74, holds the record for the most LPGA career victories with 88 and was inducted into the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame in 1975. She turned pro in 1958 and was the first player in LPGA history to cross the $1 million mark in career earnings in 1981. Whitworth also holds the record for most consecutive seasons with at least one victory, a streak of 17 straight seasons that began in 1962. Along the way during her legendary career, Whitworth served three terms as LPGA Executive Board president, where she helped shape the policy and campaigned for the growth of the LPGA Tour.
Powell, 67, was the second African-American woman to play on the LPGA Tour. She was a rookie in 1967 and competed on Tour for 14 seasons, from 1967-1980. While Powell never won an LPGA Tour event, she still changed the face of the sport of golf, both on and off the course, promoting the need for diversity in the various professional golf associations as well as women in sports around the world.
The Founders Cup will also remain at the same venue for the foreseeable future after recently signing a five-year deal with the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa. The event boasts an all-star roster of tournament winners including LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame member Karrie Webb (2011), former Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng (2012), and top-ranked American Stacy Lewis (2013), who ascended to the top spot on the Rolex Rankings for four weeks following her win in Phoenix.
Lewis donated $50,000 of her $225,000 first-place check to the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program following her victory in March.
“Next year in Phoenix, the Founders Cup will continue to showcase the LPGA’s stars of yesterday and today while sparking the growth of the game for the next generation,” Whan said. “We have RR Donnelley to thank for that vision.”