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CME GROUP TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP


November 18, 2014


Yuji Hirako

Brittany Lincicome

Jon Podany

Morgan Pressel

Lexi Thompson

Yani Tseng

Karrie Webb

Mike Whan


NAPLES, FLORIDA

KRAIG KANN:¬† Pretty good room.¬† Thanks for being here everybody.¬† Great to have you here this afternoon.¬† I'm Kraig Kann.¬† We appreciate it very much.¬† Welcome to Naples and our season‑ending event.
It's a special week, no doubt about that.¬† The CME Group Championship‑‑ also a reminder and a good afternoon to each and every one of those who are watching around the world via live stream.¬† Glad to have that going today as well.
This is a big week for the LPGA for many, many reasons.  Come Sunday we will hand out a winner's trophy that a lot of folks would love to get.  One deserving player, one very deserving player, will walk away with a $1 million bonus as the champion of the Race to CME Globe.
For now, I'd like to look ahead a little bit, but also take a look back.  It's been a special year.  With help from the commissioner, Mike Whan, and chief commercial officer, Jon Podany, who will come up here in just a moment, we're about to announce the schedule for 2015.
We can only hope it'll deliver as much as we've had in 2014.  How good has it been?  It has been spectacular.  Don't take my word for it.  Take a look.
(Video shown.) (Applause).
KRAIG KANN:  With that, I would like to bring up the two men who are going to help me for the next few moments.  Welcome the commissioner of the LPGA, Michael Whan, and welcome to chief commercial officer of the LPGA, Mr.Jon Podany.
Mike, good video you put together.  That was well done.
MIKE WHAN:  I worked on that all night.
KRAIG KANN:  Your thoughts on the year from the stuff we just saw on the golf course.
MIKE WHAN:  Poor Rob.  You're right in the spit zone, buddy.  When I get going you're going to be in trouble.
I think most of you have either said it or written about it or read about it, but 2014 was special on a lot of fronts.  Last year at this time Jon and I were sitting on sage and we had a bunch of cards behind us that said "up."
We were excited about a schedule that was going up and television viewership that was going up, but I don't think anybody ‑ ourselves included ‑ would've expected to be talking about the performances that we saw and what that meant to raise the tour.
When I think about the tour this last year ‑ and I said this on Golf Channel about a week ago ‑ I think of career‑defining moments.¬† Not only wins, but wins are probably going to define some players whole career no matter what happens next.
We call it the putt heard round the world that Paula dropped in Singapore.  It was the middle of the night for some of us, but somehow 75 million people were Tweeting about it by the time I got up.
It was Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie dueling in the desert.
Lexi raising for her first major trophy.¬† Then taking a week off before Michelle went home to Hawaii and won in her home state.¬† It was Mo's dance on the fairway of 18 ‑ no, I am not going to reenact the dance.¬† (Laughing.)
But I think for many of us, seeing Mo win was pretty special.  I think a lot of people were looking forward to that.
It was Michelle Wie taking what was already a pretty noteworthy week playing back‑to‑back at Pinehurst and making the whole world pay attention.
I don't know for a lot of people in this room.  Maybe I was the only one, but I was crying with my wife on Sunday night when Christina Kim won in overtime.  I'm not even sure why, but she was crying, I started crying, and my wife looked at me and she started crying.  I remember thinking nobody could have predicted 2014 the way it's turned out.
We talked a lot about young gun on this tour, but 2014 was certainly another announcement of young guns.  We had 13 different winners under the age of 15.
In fact, every win on tour this year was won by somebody under the age ‑‑ by 30 or older other than three times.
So to say that the future of women's golf is in good hands and that there is a stockpile of young talent I think is an understatement.
We took a chance a little bit.  Maybe doesn't feel like a chance now, but certainly felt like a chance to us last November when we talked about launching the International Crown.  We really wanted to do something completely different for golf.  We wanted to created a different format, a different way to get in, a different way for players to qualify, a cut on Saturday night with a wildcard playoff already built into the format.
We wanted to crown one country, and so to see Spain react and play the way we did was pretty special.  Makes 2016 at Rich Harvest Farms pretty interesting.  As most of you know, it'll make it even more interesting as we take it on the road.
KRAIG KANN:¬† I played with Yani in the pro‑am, and she said, I wish we could play that every year.
MIKE WHAN:  As we finish this year in the Rolex Rankings, the top 5 players in the Rolex Rankings come from five different countries.  I feel pretty comfortable that if I would have said that back in 2010, a lot of people in the room would've said, Yeah, commissioner, that's your biggest weakness.  You guys are global and from all over and no one can follow you.
I think it's safe to say five seasons later that everybody in the room grasps that that's our biggest strength, that the whole world pays attention.
We might see a hometown event in Portland or Toledo, but 165 countries are watching our hometown event, and that's really what separated us in women's golf.
I think it's pretty cool to think about even at the very top of the Rolex Rankings we're still battling country to country.
KRAIG KANN:  Take that a step further.  We have 8 countries represented in the top 12 of the Race to the CME Globe going into this weekend.
MIKE WHAN:¬† Yeah, so to say we're global I think is well‑stated.
Then to kind of finish it off, what nobody could have envisioned when we were talking it up this time 12 months ago, is that when we come back 12 months later, so many of the biggest battles are still completely up in the air.  Whether it's Rolex Player of the Year, Rolex Rankings, the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average, and obviously the CME Globe.
While it's been and incredible year, what's really incredible to me about this year is the last four days is going to decide so much of how we remember 2014.
So as good as the video is, I got bad news for you, Goldfinger, we get to reedit it again in about seven days when we re‑cap for the 2014 performances.
Kraig, I got goosebumps watching the video, but I think the next four performance days could be even better.
KRAIG KANN:¬† Little secret for you.¬† I am going to give you some goosebumps.¬† Coming up on Golf Channel ‑ I was down there the other day 1 ‑ top 10 shots of the year, three LPGA shots qualify.¬† Hot rumor that one of them is very much up there near the top.
Don't want to give it away, but there is a ratings boost for the Golf Channel.
Jon, let's bring you in specifically to talk about some of the business highlights of the year.¬† We've talked about the on‑course moments, but we've had some good ones off the course as well.
JON PODANY:  Yeah, you know, from my standpoint it's been just as exciting off the course.  We started the year with four new official events, plus the International Crown.  Swinging Skirts, Meijer, Yokohama, and Blue Bay.
And a $9 million increase in purse money, so we had a good start to the year right off the bat.  Later, on top of that, the fact that introduced the Race to the CME Globe total purse of $1.25 million, $1 dollars to the winner.
Just take a look at our top four going into this week.  Top three control their own destiny, Stacy, Inbee and Lydia, and Michelle is right behind them in fourth place.
Couldn't have asked for a better leaderboard going into our climactic event this week.
JON PODANY:  And then not too long after that we had the Rolex Annika Major Award which we introduced at the Kraft Nabisco rewarding the performance for majors over the course of the season.
$100,000 to that winner, and Michelle Wie was the inaugural winner awarded at Evian.¬† Along with that, a ten‑year extension with our partner Rolex, the longest‑running partner on the LPGA.¬† Alex is standing back there.¬† Thank you, Alex.
In addition to that, in June we had the announcement that we are partnering with the PGA of America and launching the KPMG Women's Championship.
We couldn't be more excited about everything that this event has to offer, starting with an increase of $1 million in the purse to $3.5 million.¬† We're going to be playing at Westchester Country Club.¬† It's going to rotate around to world‑class venues in major markets around the country.
And then the kicker is really six hours of NBC TV on the weekend.  Really broadening our audience, reach of our audience to a more casual audience.
Really excited about that one as well.
Then finally Mike touched in the International Crown, the successful launch this year at Caves Valley; we go to Rich Harvest Farms in '16; and then to Korea in '18.
But just about a month ago we announced a new title sponsor to carry that event forward event forward in UL.  So very excited about that partnership as well.
Looking at it from the television standpoint, up 15% this year.¬† So this is year fiver of a ten‑year relationship with Golf Channel, exclusive cable relationship.
This is going to be highest viewed year on Golf Channel for the LPGA during those five years among our North American events.
Looking at the events on our schedule this year, 44% of them had the highest rated event that they have ever had.  Highest viewership in the history of that particular tournament.  So really excited about what's happening from a television standpoint.
Digital has more that are doubled.  Look at our socially reach, and of course more and more people going to mobile on their phones.  We're really able to touch our fans in a lot of new and different ways.  That's exciting.
Our players do a terrific job of connecting with the fans in that way also.
MIKE WHAN:¬† I think you even speak faster too when you do the‑‑
KRAIG KANN:  He's been hanging around you too much, clearly.  And as far as the social thing, too, just to take that a step further, set goals like we do with everything else at the beginning of the year, and on each and every one of those various platforms of social media, we have at least doubles our expectations at the beginning of the year.
A lot of that has to do with player engagement.  They're all over it and they really connect with the fans.  We feel very fortunate about that.
Mike, Jon, let's push ahead and talk about 2015.  We've kind of gone through the 2014 success stories, but 2015 promises to be quite special.
It's a little bit different from the mindset going into it compared to what we were discussing here last year.  Let's talk about big objectives.  If 2014 was about up and more relationships and more tournaments, as Jon pointed out, what was the mindset for 2015?  Jon, why don't you start?
JON PODANY:  Yeah, sure.  It really is a lot of building on a lot of the things I just talked about.  We really feel like the right number of events for our schedule is in the 32 to 34 range.  We have to have a strong field for the tournaments that we play.  We want to have a good schedule flow.  Try to play three or four and have a week off throughout the season.
So we're focused on that.  We really felt that it would be good to have a domestic start to our season.  I recall last year or two years ago now we added the Bahamas, and that allowed is to at least get into North America, but it's one event in front of going over to Asia.
If we could pair two together we felt like we could have a stronger start to the season.
Obviously continued purse and television growth.  I think if you look at the ten events that we've added over the last four or five years, we've tried to strike a good balance between a home base in North America and capitalizing on international opportunities.
I think the number is seven out of ten are in North America.  We've added three more internationally, but we're really comfortable with that kind of six out of ten, seven out of ten balance to keep our home base here and grow around the world.
And then we had two of our majors frankly that needed to have a long‑term solution to them and secure longer term opportunity in the LPGA Championship and KN.¬† So those are the objectives we set to go after this year.
MIKE WHAN:  I know you're all probably saying, So where is the schedule?  I think we're going to hand you the schedule in just a second.  To capture your attention, we didn't give anything.  But here is the quick recap of '15:  33 official events, plus one in Solheim.  So 33 events plus one with Solheim is 34.  We're up one versus a year ago.
If you remember last year, we had a tentative event, and just to make sure we stick with our consistency, we have one tentative event in Mobile, but I think we're feeling pretty good about that.  And you'll see that on the schedule.
As Jon talked about, we wanted to have a domestic swing.  We wanted to make sure that our U.S. fan base and media connected with us before we went to Australia, Thailand, and Singapore, which we didn't do a few years back.
So we'd added the Coates Golf Championship in Oscala; from there we'll take a 50‑minute flight to the Bahamas and then take a week off and go Australia, Thailand, Singapore, take a week off, and begin our west coast swing.
I think if you were here last year and most of your follow up questions to Jon and I was, What are you thinking about '15, which is always amazing when you introduce the current year and they talk about next one.
What we said is we wanted to focus on purse and TV.¬† And we have.¬† We've added another $4 million dollars in purse.¬† I think that will actually be closer to $4.5 or $5 million once all the tournaments‑‑ some tournaments haven't given us their final '15 purse and they're saying there is going to be an increase, but we wanted to introduce now we knew.
So 33 of our 34 events are televised.  It's not that our 43th event, Mizuno Classic in Japan isn't televised, it's just only carried on a regional feed now.  That's?  Something we're going to try to correct between now and then so we can say 100% televised.
We have 410 or more hours of TV, which is coming off about 380 from last year.¬† I think we told you last year it was a 64‑year history record for us; next year will be a 65‑year history record as we jump up another 10% in total TV hours covered.
Jon talked about keeping this balance.  I know a lot of you have written about this since 2010 because I've been pretty boisterous about being a global tour.  I think a lot of people assumed what that meant was that Mike Whan was going to hit the road and the tour is going to go all over the place and we weren't going to have a base.
I've always said we want to be very similar to our are title partners.  We want to have a home, but we want to have a global audience.  We want to know that we have a headquarters, but at the same time we want to have consumers and our brand to touch all parts of the world.
We have been committed to both of those.¬† We've made major growth in our North American events; we've made growth ‑‑ that commitment to play around the world.¬† I think there is a reason why players around world strive to get to this tour and why fans from around the world watch this tour no matter where we play.
We've committed to having a home.  We want players from around the world to move here, be committed be here, and then make sure we commit to grow a fan base and a sponsor base all over.
Last thing Jon thing talked about from our objectives last year were the two majors that really needed a solution longer term.
Obviously or partnership with KPMG, the PGA of America, and Golf Channel NBC is a homerun.  It works on so many fronts.  It not only makes the event bigger, not only gives back to the women's game, which it really will, it also gives back to women outside the game of golf.  It really makes for the perfect formula for us creating a major.
It's not just going to be better in 2015, but can be better in 2055 with somebody that can really think as long term as we need to think in majors.
Kraig, that's kind of an overview of the '15 schedule.
KRAIG KANN:  You threw a lot of stuff out there.  Good thing we have a transcription service.  I don't know if anyone could take notes on that.  But we will have it for you.
You guys talked about a lot of things.  Talked about elevating our major championships as one of the primary goals.  That is not always an easy thing to pilot.
You did mention Kraft Nabisco Championship.  As everybody in this room is aware, and if you cover our tour you've talked about it, speculated about it, et cetera.  There has been some uncertainty.  We don't hide from that.
One long‑term partner that left, the question was:¬† Who's going to step up and carry it forward?¬† Who is going to be the next in that long line, that great tradition, the legacy?
Guess what?  To end that speculation, we've got some great news here today.  Some really, really good news.  Don't take my word for it, take a look at this:
(Video shown.) (Applause).
KRAIG KANN:  Mike, very well done.  Every good press conference needs flight attendants.
MIKE WHAN:  What good captain doesn't bring his own flight attendants.
KRAIG KANN:  I'm really impressed.  Your flight crew is outstanding.  (Applause.)
Please welcome to the stage All‑Nippon Airways top executive in the Americas, Yuji Hirako, senior vice president of the Americas for ANA.¬† (Applause.)
Also welcome Mr. Kevin Hopkins from IMG, the executive director of the newly named ANA Inspiration.  (Applause.)
First off, Mr. Hirako, we are excited to welcome ANA to the LPGA family.  Thank you very much for being here.  I think I know what airline you flew in on.  Just a guess.
Before I bring you to the podium for some comments, I think we need to get to know a little bit more about your airline.  Let's have a loot at the airline that is, All Nippon Airways.
(Video shown. )  (Applause.)
KRAIG KANN:  Mr. Hirako, if you would please, a few words for our audience here today.
MR. YUJI HIRAKO:¬† Thank you, Kraig.¬† Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.¬† I am Yuji Hirako, senior vice president of All‑Nippon Airways ANA for the Americas.
On behalf of the 33,000 employees of ANA, I am excited to be here today and proud to represent our airline inspiration of Japan at today's LPGA event.
The LPGA is the driving force behind ladies golf, and has created a stunning global platform to promote and inspire millions through this wonderful game.  But everyone here today knows that.
It played a large role in our decision to partner with the LPGA as a official airline.  The LPGA is share many similarities with ANA, but the most important is our shared vision and ambition for the future.
We share the same ambition to expand our horizons and become more international, enter into new markets, and seize the new opportunities.
ANA supporting the LPGA makes complete sense for business and for our future.¬† For those who may not know ANA, we are the Japanese leading airline recognized globally for our award‑winning hospitality, dedication to personal service, innovative product, and modern freight.¬† The most convenient connections between nine North American gateways, Japan, and every major city in Asia with our 91 weekly nonstop flights to Japan.
I mention this as one of the reasons why ANA choose to sponsor and become official airline of the LPGA.  It's also for the LPGA's greatest assets, the players.  LPGA's players are increasingly traveling across border and time zones, creating a greater need for comfort and convenience.
In providing a unique personalized experience, ANA looks forward to welcome you, the players, on board ensuring you arrived on time fresh, focused, and ready to play at your very best.
Just as LPGA is on the trend to expand their presence in Japan and Asia as new market, ANA is seeking to raise awareness about our award‑winning airline in the United States.
We view our sponsorship as mutually beneficial for ANA to further build its brand in the United States, and the LPGA to benefit from greater exposure in Japan and Asia.
In addition, ANA has long been sympathizing with the values and tradition of golf:  respect, honor, integrity, and dedication.  All of it remains central to our success today.
In partnering with the LPGA on the ANA Inspiration, we are proud to be associated with the first major of the 15 season and tournament of such legendary status.
The heritage, the glittering role call of former winners, the fine tradition of Poppy's Pond and Champions Road are what makes this more than a golf event.
It is a special occasion that inspires golfers around the world.  The word inspiration has many meanings.  We hope that our partnership helps introduce golf to more people and inspire the next generation of golfers, hence the name and hence our excitement for the future.
I am personally excited to be a part of the announcement, because our partnership allows me to be able to play more golf and even improve my game hopefully.
Thank you for the opportunity to be here today.  We look forward to seeing you next April at ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)
KRAIG KANN:¬† I think we can sign you into a few pro‑ams.¬† I think that'll work out fine.¬† Mike, the process of finding new title partner is not always an easy one.¬† This one seems like a perfect fit.¬† Can you talk about why it seems so?
MIKE WHAN:¬† I think the key word is process.¬† We really got a great partner in IMG.¬† We wanted a global sales force that could look around the world event, because this really is an around‑the‑world event.¬† We've seen that by not only the players that play it, but the countries that watch it.
So I want to I say to you Kevin and your whole team and (indiscernible) from Japan, thank you for making this a reality.  It's a wonderful partnership.
Very similar to what Jon was talking about with PGA of America, Golf Channel NBC, and KPMG.  This is a merge between IMG and LPGA.  A lot of letters, but those letters are going to come together to create something really inspirational.
Already has been, but just imagine what this thing can become with the head start it's already got.
KRAIG KANN:  Kevin, traditions and history have been such a big part of this championship.  As the executive director of the tournament you see it up close and personal.  There is a lot of excitement.  Can you share some your of your thoughts on that?
KEVIN HOPKINS:  Yeah, thanks, Kraig.  Such an exciting time right now to be associated with the LPGA.  Mike, you and your team have done just a fantastic job not only growing the amount of tournaments as we've seen here with the schedule release, but increasing the prize money, increasing television coverage.
We have an exciting new partner here with ANA who are a global partner.  They fit perfectly with the future of this tournament.
And for us, while the name is changing for golf's first major, the traditions and the history that have forged in Rancho Mirage over the history of the last 43 years are very much going to remain the same and intact.
With that, the players are still going to come back.  They are going to play the Dinah Shore course at Mission Hills; they'll be playing for the Dinah Shore tournament trophy, of course the opportunity to jump into Poppy's Pond and put on the while champions robe.
Our purse next year s going to increase, and we've got a partner that sees the value in doing that and growing and taking this tournament to the next level.
Our purse is going to go to from $2 million to $2.5 million in 2015 with the hopes of growing it even further over the course of the relationship.
Then we've got 20‑plus hours live coverage on the Golf Channel.¬† For us, it's golf's first major.¬† We're putting it on the big stage.¬† To answer your questions, excitement is at an all‑time high for IMG, for our partners at Mission Hills who are live streaming this as we speak in Rancho Mirage.
Fantastic partners there.  And then most importantly to our fan base there in the community.  They've really embraced us, taken us into the family, over the course of the years.  You know, I know that they were concerned about the future of the event.  There is no longer a concern there.
We've got great partner and ready for the tournament in April.
KRAIG KANN:  Mike, I'm going to go to you.  You've walked around the building and thrown out, Hey, we're taking off.  We're going to another level.  I know you've done a lot of media interviews and answered a lot of questions about the future of this event.  This feels real secure.  Speaking the traditions and things that Kevin was just talking about, anything you want to add about what stands out to you about what the fans might feel and what you feel?
MIKE WHAN:¬† Yeah, bottom line is, and people that have been around the tour the last few years know, that it's been a while since we've re‑invested in what's going on there.
So be table sit done with both of these teams really and talk about how we take Poppy's Pond and how we take the robe, the entire experience for fans, for media, and for players, to another level.
It's not only exciting to think what it might be.  It's invigorating to just sit down and have the dialog about let's not only except status quo, let's really take it to the next level.
As most know, in the women's game we don't have enough of these long, long term traditions.  This is the second longest golf tournament consecutive played at one location, surpassed only by August National.
So this is a gem in the world of golf, not just in the world of women's golf.
I think's a relief if I was being honest, and at the same time it's an unbelievable uplifting opportunity for us to really think big about the next 43.
KRAIG KANN:  Yuji, question for you and then I've got a surprise for you as well, so stand by for that.  Your airline serves the entire world.  In the meetings that we've all been a part of, the one thing that keeps coming up, and you just mentioned it standing at this podium, is brand awareness in the United States.  Talk about that and how that helps your strategy by aligning with the LPGA.
MR. YUJI HIRAKO:  Yes.  The ANA Inspiration becoming official airline of LPGA has a huge potential to showcase ANA to new audience in the United States.  We aim to bring entire ANA experience to life.
What makes ANA a world class airline known for our award‑winning hospitality and attention to detail and innovative product as well.
KRAIG KHAN:  It's great to have you here.  There have been so many magical moments.  We witnessed some of them in the video up there at Mission Hills.
None of them possible, however, without the greats in the game and those who would aspire to join that list.  It is a select company.  A lot of major champions with so much to offer during 32 years as a major championship.
With that and with a little help from our flight attendants, I've got some special guests.  Our VIP list here is about to grow, Yuji.  We've brought in some of the stars of women's golf who helped to create that victory tradition at Mission Hills, Rancho Mirage, and the ANA Inspiration now.
One of only six players in the event's history to record major victories at Mission Hills, the 2000 and 2006 champion, say hello to Karrie Webb.  (Applause).
The 2007 champion who became our youngest ever major champion in LPGA history, please welcome Morgan Pressel.  (Applause.)
These ANA flight attendants are very fleet of foot.  You notice that, right?  They move quickly.
The 2009 champion that eagled the 72nd hole at Mission Hills to capture her first major championship.  A warm welcome for Brittany Lincicome.  (Applause.)
The 2010 champion, who at the age of 21 earned her second major title with an impressive 68 in the final round at Mission Hills, Yani Tseng.  (Applause.)
Now watch this next video and watch the leap into the pond.¬† The 1012 champion who defeated I.K. Kim in a playoff to become a Rolex first‑time winner‑‑ how about the caddie‑‑¬† please welcome Sun Young Yoo.
The 2014 champion, defending champion, who out‑dueled Michelle Wie in Sunday's final round to capture her first major championship victory, say hello to Lexi Thompson.¬† (Applause.)
Let's get a quick photo here if we could, photo opportunity.¬† While that is taking place‑‑ we haven't passed out the schedule.¬† So we'll do that now before we take some questions for the players and for Mike from the media and anybody else.
(Pause in proceedings.)
KRAIG KANN:  Got some chairs up there for the ladies, I believe, to have a comfortable seat.  I've got some questions for the players.  We're going to take questions from the media as well.  So please, if you would, raise your hand.  We've got microphones out there for any questions that you would like to ask.
We'll start with some questions about the ANA partnership and this major championship, and then I'll take some for Mike about the 2015 schedule.  So we'll start major and work our way toward the '15 schedule.
Lexi, first for you, what did it mean to actually put on that robe and jump into the major championship victory circle?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Oh, it meant so much to me.  My whole off season I practiced so hard.  Getting my first major championship under my belt, it was my main goal coming into this year, but to win that tournament with the history behind it and everything and jumping into Poppy's Pond with my family there, it was a dream come true honestly.
KRAIG KANN:  I think you set record for the most people to leap with you.  Did you spend a lot of time since then thinking about what happened on the golf course, the shots you hit, et cetera, or is it the leap and the jump into the pond?
LEXI THOMPSON:¬† I would say it's more the leap into the pond.¬† I do replay some of the shots from the final round, but jumping into Poppy's Pond has always been a dream of mine.¬† I can say I've re‑watched that video a lot of me jumping into that pond.
It was an amazing experience.
MIKE WHAN:  I can say that her caddie probably remembers that leap.  I don't know if you saw that, but he's going like full 360 there.
KRAIG KANN:  Yeah.  The caddies enjoy that moment.
Yani, back to the importance of the championship and the word inspiration.  When you're playing your best nobody has a bigger smile than you do.  You've inspired a lot of youngsters to play this game.  You're inspired as well when you play the game.
What did winning and jumping into the pond and putting on the robe mean to you as a champion?
YANI TSENG:¬† I mean, it means a lot to me because I had my Q‑School there.¬† That's before the LPGA.¬† And I always tell myself one day I really want to jump into this pond and I start thinking what pose I should jump in.
I start thinking because I don't know how to swim yet, so I was like, Maybe I should practice my swim then I can jump and see how deep the water is.
It's just amazing being part of history and such a great champions here.  It's my honor and thanks ANA for putting this together so we can able to go back there and show the fans all the great performances out there.
Just really exciting for that.
KRAIG KANN:  I want to take some questions out here.  I've got a few more for the players, but anybody else for the players out here about this partnership or the Tour and this major?
Sun Young Yoo, to be here with this group of winners up on this stage‑ we watched the video of you leaping in there‑ what did it mean for you to win with this particular major?
SUN YOUNG YOO:  It was amazing and best memory so far in my career.  It's very honor to be here with other champions, and very excited to go back there and play new ANA championship.
I wish I could do better jump than my caddie did.  Looking forward to go back and play.
KRAIG KANN:  Brittany Lincicome, you see the word inspiration there.  I know you do a lot of work with youngsters and love bringing them into the game.  They look up to you.  They want to hit it as far as you do, too, by the way.
MIKE WHAN:  So do adults.
KRAIG KANN:  Good point.
When you see inspiration in this game, what does that mean to you?  Because now it's a part of this major championship.
BRITTANY LINCICOME:  We were just told before we came in the door what the name of the tournament was going to be.  I mean, I don't think they could have picked a better name.  It speaks for itself.  Just like you said, just inspiring, being an inspiration for a child or even an adult is an incredible feeling.
I feel very honored.  I've worked very hard, as we all have, to get where we are.  To inspire anybody to do anything is pretty moving.
So just so glad we're going to be going back and keeping this great tradition going.
KRAIG KANN:  Kevin, Mike, did you hear what she said?  That She just found out the name of the tournament.  Good job of keeping a secret, by the way.  Very well done.
MIKE WHAN:  We're one for 90.  (Laughter.)
KRAIG KANN:  Morgan, this tour, as you know, is global.  You've seen it for the last few years that you've been out on tour dating back to your major championship as a youngster.
This airline becomes the official marketing partner, the official airline of the LPGA as well.  So given that your passport has seen a whole lot of activity over the last few years just like every other player sitting up there, this seems to be a very big corporate marriage that allows you guys to have the official airline, mand also this being a major.  Thoughts on it?
MORGAN PRESSEL:  Well, definitely every time I come back through customs, at immigration, they look at my passport, which has had quite a few pages a few multiple different times.
They say, You travel a lot?  No, what gave you that impression?  But I actually was curious myself, so last week I calculated how many miles I've flown in the last six weeks since I left for Malaysia.  Mike is cringing ever there.
I flew over 43,000 air miles.¬† To think that we now have a corporate partner that will help us get to all of these international destinations that we play‑‑ I mean, we're lucky.¬† We get to travel the world and see and meet a lot of different people.
We're sometimes all over the place with how we get there, so I think this will really help, and it's a great long term partner.
KRAIG KANN:  My guess is your platinum status or chairman...
MORGAN PRESSEL:  I'm the highest you can get.  We all are.
KRAIG KANN:  Giving the LPGA and women's golf a bigger platform.  Speak to partnerships like this and what they do for not just the LPGA but women's golf.  Yuji spoke to that as well.
KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah, I think firstly I would like to thank ANA for becoming a part of the LPGA family and becoming a part of the tournament on our LPGA schedule that has the most tradition, which is very important to us.
I think the partnership together, because we have such a global tour playing in so many countries, and then we have so many different countries represented as members of this tour, I think having such a global partner is important for the LPGA and important for our first major of the year.
KRAIG KANN:  Questions for Mike and Yuji or Kevin?

Q.  How long is the deal?
JON PODANY:  It's a five year agreement with ANA.

Q.  So through 2019?
MIKE WHAN:  Which rolls into 55 years.  (Laughter.)

Q.  Question for Mike.  Has there been any or much talk about moving the dates?  As you know, those of us who cover the Masters now with those activities starting over the weekend there is an overlap that is impossible to circumvent.
MIKE WHAN:  I've never heard that question form the media.  No, just kidding.  It's be the same date in 2015, but we are looking at whether or not there is an opportunity to do that, to work in concert.
One good piece of news for us is playing the week before Augusta we tend not to have as much competition in terms of TV and bigger fields, whatever PGA TOUR event is the week before Augusta.
I understand your point about trying to do both.  So we can't do anything as it relates it '15 dates, but we're looking at that in '16 and beyond.

Q.  Mike, you are also competing with one of the other big women's sporting events, the women's final four.
MIKE WHAN:  You end up getting a little competition even if you move back or forward.  We end up running into other sporting events the same way.
But I understand your point exactly.  We want as many media as we can there on Sunday, so fair point.

Q.  Two parter:  How important is it to go to a major championship that is at the same venue year after year after year?  Number two, can you just give an overall thought on what you think of the schedule?  2009 it was down to 23 and the growth is still going.
KARRIE WEBB:  I think it's very important that history has been created there and tradition over the years jumping into the lake, which is now Poppy's Pond, and the robe ceremony.
I think most fans of not just the LPGA but of golf and sport in general know when they watch that event that this is the event where the winner jumps in the lake.
I think it's very important that we stay at Mission Hills, and another reason why we're glad ANA was happy to come to Rancho Mirage.
What was the second?

Q.  About the schedule and the growth.
KARRIE WEBB:  Obviously I think the schedule speaks for itself.  23 events to 34 events in five years is incredible.  I mean, I wouldn't know for sure, but I'm sure the tour itself hasn't had that sort of growth in 64 years.
It's an impressive job done by Mike and Jon Podany and the whole LPGA staff that we're sitting here announcing such great news.
KRAIG KANN:  Brittany, thoughts on the growth of the LPGA?
BRITTANY LINCICOME:  I think it's incredible.  This is my tenth year on the LPGA Tour.  Just seeing it from where I was my first year to now, Mike, like Karrie said, has done such a phenomenal job of getting old events that we lost back and getting new events and moving forward and obviously playing for more money.  Obviously just very incredible.
I think the schedule is going to be incredible for next year.
KRAIG KANN:  Good job on the fly.
Mike?

Q.  Thanks to ANA, inspiration is one of my favorite words in the English language.  Regardless of your profession.  Can you ladies talk a little bit about the great players in the past who inspired you either to take up the game or become champions, and how cool it is to meet all these young girls out there now?  How you engage the fans is so cool and how cool it is to be role models in the future.
KRAIG KANN:  Good question.  Why don't we do this:  Why don't we start with the defending champion, and then I'll pass the baton to a couple of other players.
Lexi.
LEXI THOMPSON:  Well, one of my huge role models growing up was Nancy Lopez.  I've always looked up to her.  She was actually the captain at my junior Solheim Cup, so I've gotten to know her pretty well.  She's such an amazing person on the golf course obviously with her accomplishment, but off the golf course, how she was to the fans and just giving back to the game, you know, it means so much to me to get that close with somebody that has accomplished so much in life.
But it is great to tee it up every day out here and see the little girls and boys out here following us and looking up to us.  It means so much to us that we're out here playing a game that we love and we're inspiring little kids.
It means a lot to us.  That's what makes us love teeing it up every day doing what we love.
KRAIG KANN:  Yani, some thoughts from you on that as well.  You spend a lot of time signing autographs.
YANI TSENG:  I always enjoy that.  On my first tournament on LPGA when I was 13 and I sign by so many player, because I know how they feel.  I don't know who they are, but I want to give all the autograph.
One day I tell myself, I think I want to play on this tour.  LPGA give my a lot of inspiration.  This is one of the best stage that you want to be on.  It's my dream to come here and play with all the best player, so I feel very appreciated and I feel very lucky that I can experience the younger people to give it back.
I just think once you feel very appreciated things will go very well.  So I just very lucky.  I watch Webby like when I was junior, so I kind of...
KEVIN HOPKINS:  Morgan was in grade 5 I just found out when I won in 2000.
MORGAN PRESSEL:  You're an inspiration to me, Webby.  (Laughter.)
YANI TSENG:  I always try to follow what she does on the putting green, everywhere.  It's so cool play with all the great players.
KRAIG KANN:  I see weekly inspiration press conferences.
Morgan, thoughts on that?  Who inspired you?
MORGAN PRESSEL:  I'll follow with what Yani said.  One of my first LPGA events that I went to in South Florida when I was probably ten years old(laughter) Karrie signed my hat, and like I had this injury on my thumb and she asked me did I injure it hitting too many golf balls.  I just stared at her and I was like, No.
I was so afraid and scared and nervous that she's actually talking you to me.  This is somebody I watched play golf and looked up to and continued to do that when I played in the U.S. Open in 2001; Karrie won.
So she was always ‑‑ I actually left a note in her locker but she said she thought it was fan mail and never got back to me.
We'll talk about that later.
I mean, to think that I was one of those youngsters and that I have that opportunity to leave that kind of mark on another young women, other young girls who come out and watch us, and maybe they will be the next Lexi Thompson or Lydia Ko who comes out and their playing against us at a young age and taking our money.
For now, we'll inspire them to do that.  (Laughter.)
KRAIG KANN:  Sun Young, did you have any comments for Karrie before I let Karrie talk?
SUN YOUNG YOO:  Yeah, I watch Karrie play when I was playing junior golf.
KRAIG KANN:  Karrie, I am so sorry, but I had to keep going.
MORGAN PRESSEL:  Okay, so I will add to that without being such a youngster on tour.  I played with Karrie int eh final round at Kraft when she holed out to force a playoff.
I went on to win the next year.¬† It was very, very inspiring.¬† I still remember shaking.¬† And I didn't doany ‑‑ I had to hit onto the green, that island green, after Karrie hit.
It was just such an unbelievable feeling being there right in that moment.  I think that's what's really cool is we can go back to play that 18th hole many, many years in the future now thanks to ANA, and create all those really tremendous memories.
That video clip was awesome.
KRAIG KANN:  It was.
MORGAN PRESSEL:  Still gives my chills watching it.
KRAIG KANN:  Okay, Karrie.
KARRIE WEBB:  I remember being inspired by watching Old Tom Morris.  (Laughter.) (Applause).
Again, this will age me, too, but back when we were just getting color television in Australia, we didn't get a lot of women's golf televised on TV, so I didn't get a lot of female golfers as inspiration.
Greg Norman was my idol growing up.  I live in quite a remote part of Australia as far as getting big sporting events, so actually I had to fly to see any of it.
I remember watching Greg Norman in 1986 Queensland Open when he was No. 1 in the world.  That was just going to a professional golf event.  I came home and told my parents I was going to be a professional golfer.
From that moment, I enjoyed what the atmosphere was.  I didn't want to stand on the outside of the ropes.  I wanted to be inside the ropes.  That was inspiration to me to practice hard.
When I eventually got to the states, the first tournament I ever watched, first LPGA event I ever watched on television was the Dinah Shore in 1995.  Nancy Lopez had a chance to win that.
Yeah, Nancy Lopez had a chance and Nanci Bowin ended up winning.¬† This was my first introduction to the LPGA watching it on TV.¬† To now be a two‑time champion of that event is very special.
KRAIG KANN:  Yuji, I think you're seeing right now how special the LPGA is.
MR. YUJI HIRAKO:  Thank you very much.  Hearing from you, how you are inspired by others and you are inspiring others.  Inspiration is very good, wonderful world.
Our company tag line is inspiration Japan, so we will tell my boss that inspiration is a good word.¬† And from now on, you will ‑‑ you are eligible to use ANA flight if you go to Asia.¬† I'm sorry we don't fly to Australia, but we soon, I hope.
So please take advantage of my flight.  Thank you very much.  (Applause).
KRAIG KANN:  I think this is exactly what the LPGA all about and the players being such a big part of it.  I want to let Mike have the last word, not only about this partnership, what we've seen in '14 leading to the end of this week and how big this week is and what we've got to look forward to next year.
MIKE WHAN:  The bottom line is if all of you kind of watching us around the world haven't spent much time paying attention to the LPGA, especially as Morgan was talking about her inspirational moments, we can just capture that 45 seconds and say that's the LPGA.
These are young women that not only understand their role models, but they embrace the opportunities.  Every one of them.  This is totally off the script, but every one of them thanked ANA when we started talking about the thing.
If you don't understand our tagline, which is, See Why It's Different Out Here, then you're just not paying attention.
I've never been prouder to be a part of the LPGA, and the reason that we're growing is because we have athletes like no other athletes in the world.
They care about the check writer, the fans, the TV.  I'm not saying that because I'm commissioner.  I'm commissioner because of that.
So no matter where you're watching around the world, if you're not tuning into the LPGA, shame on you.  You're missing one the best sports spectacles in terms of what women are doing not only for other women, bit for sports in general.
It's a shame if you're missing it.  Thank goodness for people like ANA that are going to get it out there to more people, more often, and give us tradition like, quite frankly, women's golf doesn't have week in and week out.
I don't mean that just in women's golf.  I mean that in golf.  Thanks to you and thanks to IMG, we'll be doing this for quite a few more decades.  You're with me for five or six more decades.

Q.  Mike, we're all accustomed to tournament sponsors coming and going, but not very often in majors.  Next year you've two new ones.  Talk about the marketing challenges involved in that and how are you going to spend the next fours month branding this event?
MIKE WHAN:  Yeah, it's probably different depending on the major.  I would say when you're looking for a major partner you have to think about somebody who thinks long term.  When we talked about inspiration, I said, Well, how long do you think you'll be the inspiration of Japan?  Well, about 50 years.  Okay, that's global inspiration.
You've got to find people that really embrace the tradition and not just the event and the hospitality and the TV.¬† The really ‑‑ I was going to say lucky, but it's not lucky.¬† The exciting thing about this major is the traditions are built in and built into players and fans.¬† Whether it's the walk across, that kind of walk of champions, that's special.
When you pass Dinah Shore's trophy standing there as you cross the bridge, that's special.  Everybody talks about the robe and the leap in the ponds.  It's the only time I see a lot of these players nervous like I've never seen them week in and week out in an event.
You don't have to know who Dinah Shore was to respect what she's meant to this event and why we're keeping the name on the trophy, why you drive on Dinah Shore Drive to the get to the event.  You don't have to understand the former tournament director and why they called him Poppy and why it turned into Poppy's Pond.
Understand how big that pond is for the women's game.  This event has got built on traditions that I have no doubt seven commissioners from now and seven more generations of superstar players, they will be talking about leap, about the rope, about the Dinah Shore trophy.
Shame on me, but I can't say that week in and week out.  I wish we could say that more often.
I think the best thing about the partners we've embraced, is they got in it for those reasons.¬† We have taken ideas to ANA and to KPMG that they weren't interested in regular tour stops.¬† We want something that's got long‑term roots.
Unfortunately when you hear that from somebody, a lot of times you don't anything to take to them if I don't have it.
So we put them on a short list of I don't know when I'll be back, but I'll be back.
KRAIG KANN:  Any other questions?  That will conclude the press conference.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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