The LPGA continued its growth spurt Friday by introducing a new event backed by a first-time sponsor on a premium course hosted by one of its best-known personalities.
The Mizuho Americas Open will take place May 29 to June 4, 2023, in the shadow of New York City at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., which has hosted the Presidents Cup and the PGA Tour playoffs. The event represents Mizuho Americas’ first foray into sports sponsorship, and it has financed a $2.75 million purse, making the tournament the third-richest non-major on the circuit.
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The company has also attached itself to Michelle Wie West, who will serve as tournament host and become a brand ambassador for the financial institution.
As an added twist, the tournament will take place at the same time as an American Junior Golf Association event, allowing 24 top amateur girls between ages 12 and 19 to play alongside LPGA competitors during the Saturday and Sunday rounds. “When I announced that I was stepping away from competitive golf earlier this year, my goal was to continue to live by the LPGA mantra to ‘Act Like a Founder,’ and leave the game better than I found it,” Wie West, 32, said in a press release. “We’ll be able to do just that and impact future generations of the game. I am so proud to host this groundbreaking event and partner with a company that sees the value in supporting women’s golf.”
Mizuho Worldwide, a global financial services company with $1.67 trillion in total assets, has previously sponsored the Tokyo Marathon and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, but this is the first sports connection for the Americas division. It partnered with Excel Sports Management, which owns the event, and it was drawn to the LPGA, at least in part, by the opportunity to pursue “a purpose-driven partnership that aligns our shared values of opportunity, equity and advancing the next generation of talent,” Shuji Matsuura, chairman and CEO of Mizuho Americas, said in the release.
Mizuho is not the first to see the appeal of the women’s game. The new tournament will give the LPGA 32 events on the 2023 calendar with a record purse of $93.5 million. That’s up from $68.5 million in 2018. At the same time, television exposure continues to grow, with 10 events appearing on network TV this year compared to six a year ago.
“The LPGA is committed to integrating and growing all parts of the female golf ecosystem, and this event is perfectly aligned with that goal,” Mollie Marcoux Samaan, LPGA commissioner, said. “From the first time we met with the teams at Mizuho and Liberty National, it was clear how committed they both were to making this a game-changing event for players, employees and fans and more broadly, using the tournament as a platform to advance opportunities for girls and women on and off the golf course.”
Part of the LPGA’s success in recent years has come from playing more often on the game’s most highly regarded courses, from St. Andrews, Pebble Beach and Baltusrol to Muirfield, Pinehurst and Congressional. Liberty National adds to the string of high-profile layouts. It also offers made-for-social-media views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty, another lady who stands for something and knows how to get attention.