The LPGA Friday’s growth spurt continued by introducing a new sponsor-supported event for the first time in a premium tournament hosted by one of the most famous personalities.
The Mizuho Americas The opening will take place from May 29 to June 4, 2023, in the shadow of New York City at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, which has hosted the Presidents Cup and the PGA Tour. The event marked Mizuho Americas’ first foray into sports sponsorship, and it funded a $2.75 million purse, making the tournament the third-richest non-major tournament in the ring.
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The company has also committed to Michelle We Westwho will serve as the tournament host and become the financial institution’s brand ambassador.
As an added development, the tournament will take place at the same time as the US Junior Golf Association event, allowing 24 top amateur girls aged 12-19 to play alongside LPGA competitors during the Saturday and Sunday rounds. “When I announced that I would be stepping away from competitive golf earlier this year, my goal was to continue living by the LPGA’s mantra to ‘act like the founder,’ and leave the game better than I found it,” Wie West, 32, said in a press release. “We will be able to do exactly that and impact future generations of the game. I am very proud to host this ground-breaking event and partner with a company that sees value in supporting women’s golf.”
Mizuho Worldwide, a global financial services company with total assets of $1.67 trillion, has sponsored the Tokyo Marathon and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, but this is the Americas Division’s first athletic contact. It has partnered with Excel Sports Management, which owns the event, and has been drawn into the LPGA, at least in part, by the opportunity to pursue “a purpose-driven partnership aligned with our shared values of opportunity, equity, and advancement of the next generation of talent,” said Shuji Matsuura, Chairman management and CEO of Mizuho Americas, in the statement.
Mizuho isn’t the first to see the allure of the women’s game. The new tournament will award 32 LPGA events in the 2023 calendar with a record purse of $93.5 million. That’s up from $68.5 million in 2018. Meanwhile, the TV show continues to grow, with 10 events featured on network TV this year compared to six a year ago.
“The PGA is committed to integrating and growing all parts of the women’s golf ecosystem, and this event is fully aligned with that goal,” said PGA Commissioner Molly Marco Semaan. “From the first time we met the teams at Mizuho and Liberty National, it was clear how committed they were to making this a game-changing event for players, staff, fans and more broadly, using the tournament as a platform to advance opportunities for girls and women both on and off the golf course.”
Part of the LPGA’s success in recent years has come from playing often on the game’s most prestigious tournament, from St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, and Baltusrol to Muirfield, Pinehurst and Congressional. Liberty National adds to the series of notable formats. It also offers custom social media views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty, another lady who stands up for something and knows how to get attention.