SOUTHERN PINES, NC (AP) – Women’s golf is on the rise, the impetus has not lost fans and sponsors.
With lots of new stars gaining fame, the sport is attracting more attention – and sponsorship – to the post-Covid era. According to the USGA, ticket sales for the U.S. Women’s Open this week rose more than 50% from a three-year average before COVID-19.
Gin Yong Ko from South Korea and Nelly Cord from America are not yet known names, but are leading the prosecution. Last year, they won nine LPGA Tours together. Ranking 1-2 in the world, both were included in the list of the 10 highest paid athletes in the world according to Forbes for 2022.
Co has raised $ 4 million from agreements with LG Electronics, Jeju SamDaSoo mineral water, Korean Air and Rejuran skin care products. Cord, who returned to service this week after a blood clot repair operation, earned $ 3.5 million on the recommendations of more than 10 sponsors, according to Forbes. She has over 504,000 Instagram followers.
Lexi Thompson remains one of the biggest draws in women’s golf with her powerful swing along with former NCAA champion and August winner of the women’s national women’s competition Jennifer Kupcha, who is coming out of her first major championship.
Next up is 19-year-old Rose Zhang, who in the next few years could become the biggest crossover player in the LPGA Tour after Michelle Wee West, who attracted a lot of media attention when she became a professional a week before her 16th birthday in 2005.
Zhang won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Competition in 2020 and has since won first place among amateurs in the world. Last month, she won the NCAA Championship as a Stanford freshman and helped the cardinal win the national title, setting an NCAA record of 69.68 points on average.
16-year-old Anna Davis is also taking part in the youth parade. She turned her head after winning the August Women’s Amateur Competition and twice received an exemption from the sponsor to participate in the LPGA tour – both times in the segment. Like other players this week at the US Women’s Open, Davis received a new leased car to use it to navigate South Pines.
The only problem is that she has no driver’s license.
“Yeah, it’s okay,” she said, shrugging. “But it’s a beautiful car, so I sit well in it.”
A total of 22 players under the age of 20 and 29 amateurs are taking part in the US Women’s Open this week. The three top U.S. winners last year were 19, 21 and 23 years old.
“Look at all the fans who continue to be released or qualify for this championship,” said Shannon Ruyard, senior director of UGSA. “We have had an average of about 30 fans at this championship for several years. I think it just speaks to how the women’s game will move forward. “
While tomorrow looks promising for the women’s game, today isn’t too bad – especially abroad, where it’s incredibly popular.
This week, Pine Needles employs about 30 international media members and about 200 more in the USGA virtual media center.
Of the 10 best players in the women’s world rankings, eight are international. This has been the case for years, as the LPGA Tour is well ahead of the PGA Tour in attracting the best players from all over the globe.
On Thursday, the Swede Ingrid Lindblad recorded the lowest round among amateurs in the 77-year history of the US Women’s Open – 6 to 65 years, as a result of which she was one shot behind the leader of the first round Mina Harigae.
Lydia Co., who was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand, won her first LPGA competition as an amateur when she was 15. She reached number 1 in the world in 17 years and now has 17 wins in the LPGA Tour.
Yuka Sasso, who has dual citizenship in the Philippines and Japan, won the U.S. Women’s Championship last year at the age of 19.
And corporations are noticing.
New Jersey-based technology firm Cognizant has invested in golf, becoming a global partner of the Presidents Cup, but not without investing in the LPGA tour as the title sponsor of the Founders ’Cup. This raised the wallet to $ 3 million, making it the largest among regular LPGA events.
London-based financial risk insurance company Aon has created an Aon Risk-Reward Challenge bonus for men and women, awarding a $ 1 million prize to the winner of each tour. KPMG and Chevron originally entered the men’s golf market. Both are now the main sponsors of women’s specialties and have collected prizes to record levels.
The total prize pool this season has exceeded $ 90 million, up from $ 67 million two years ago. It still pales in comparison to men who have a deeper heritage and relied on the powerful appeal of Tiger Woods. Wallets topped $ 425 million in the PGA Tour.
Enlarged wallets are a step in the right direction for women.
USGA CEO Mike Wang, a former LPGA commissioner, recently added ProMedica, a medical company, to sponsor the US Open. The wallet has almost doubled from $ 5.5 million to $ 10 million a year. The winner gets $ 1.8 million, which is the biggest payout in women’s golf.
Anika Sorenst, who returned to play at the US Open this week after a 13-year hiatus, has been the biggest name in women’s golf for years, scoring 72 wins and 10 majors on the LPGA Tour, winning more than $ 22 million in her career.
But at 51, her playing career is essentially over.
This week she is primarily participating in the US Open to spend time with her family and celebrate her prestigious career.
But Sorenst, who over the years has helped develop women’s play through her Anika Academy in Florida, is happy to see where the game with future stars is going.
“It’s so neat, so you see that women’s golf is in good hands,” she said.
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