LPGA chief Whan to step down this year

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LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan will step down from the job later this year after a "transformational" 11-year reign

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said Wednesday he will step down from the job later this year after an 11-year reign at the top of women's golf.

Whan said in an open letter he would quit the position sometime in 2021, but did not give a firm timetable for his departure.

"I know that news may come as a bit of a shock, but trust me when I say it follows many, many months of deep introspection," Whan wrote in the letter.

The 55-year-old executive is the longest-serving commissioner in the history of the LPGA, and only the eighth person to hold the job.

Whan is widely credited with strengthening the LPGA Tour since taking over, increasing the number of tournaments on the circuit and boosting overall prize money by more than $25 million.

Despite a tumultuous 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic decimated the schedule, the tour recently confirmed a 34-event season for 2021 with a record $76.4 million in prize money.

"I simply wouldn't leave the LPGA if I thought the future was uncertain or not trending straight up," Whan wrote.

"Even after the challenges we faced in 2020, the LPGA has never been more financially secure, deeper in leadership talent, or more anchored by passionate, diverse sponsors from all around the world.

"The LPGA is poised for even greater heights, and as such, I'm excited to hand the baton to the next leader and become their biggest supporter."

Whan's decision was lamented by Tour board members and player representatives.

"Mike Whan has been a transformational leader of the LPGA and we've been fortunate to retain him for 11 years," LPGA board chairman Diane Gulyas said.

Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, the LPGA Tour’s Player President, said Whan had been the "right leader at the right time."

"He rebuilt the Tour and then reimagined its future by bringing new events, new sponsors and a new value proposition around diversity and inclusion to the LPGA," Goetze-Ackerman said.