The LPGA has a new blue-chip title sponsor in Ford Motor Company, the tour announced on Tuesday. The upcoming Ford Championship will take place at Seville Golf and Country Club, March 28-31, in Gilbert, Arizona.
Last year, the LPGA stop at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club, called the Drive On Championship, did not have a title sponsor.
Mina Harigae is a member at Superstition and said that fellow member Tim Hovik, owner of San Tan Ford in Gilbert, had such a blast at last year’s Drive On that he called Ford’s corporate headquarters to try to get them involved.
“I can’t believe it did it,” said Harigae, “but that’s how much passion he has for this.”
While Superstition wanted to host again, she continued, the proposed dates didn’t work for the club.
“Ford’s collaboration with the LPGA Tour represents our commitment to supporting women in sports and showcasing their incredible talent on a global stage,” Lisa Materazzo, global chief marketing officer, Ford Motor Company, said in a release. “Through the Ford Championship presented by KCC, we aim to elevate the visibility of female athletes in the golfing world and inspire a new generation of fans.”
The LPGA has held an event in Arizona more than 70 times over the course of the tour’s nearly 75-year history. Celine Boutier won last year’s Drive On Championship at Superstition Mountain, the first of four titles for the Frenchwoman in 2023.
Seville Golf and Country Club, which counts tour player Alena Sharp as a member, was designed by Gary Panks and opened in 2000. Sharp said the last four holes are the best on the course, noting that the par-4 16th is drivable, the par-3 17th is an island green and the par-5 18th will be reachable in two.
“Our greens are the best greens around,” said Sharp, “they’re fast. I think the girls are really going to like it. There’s risk/reward and the course is in great shape. That’s what we like.”
A field of 144 players will compete in Gilbert for a $2 million purse. LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said the current deal with Ford is for one year, but they’re already in talks about the future.
Marcoux Samaan also praised the fan support LPGA events receive in Arizona, noting that ticket sales is a key area of growth the tour is focused on in 2024.
“The fandom is so tremendous,” she said. “Last year, we just decided to do that event relatively late in the year and we had one of the best crowds of the year.”
Tom Mackin contributed to this story.