CME Group to sponsor LPGA’s Titleholders

LPGA Commisioner Mike Whan at a press conference prior to the 2010 Evian Masters.

The LPGA announced Sunday a title sponsor for its season-ending tournament – a welcome bit of good news for a tour that has struggled domestically.

CME Group has signed a three-year agreement to sponsor the Titleholders, the tour announced March 6. The event will be held Nov. 17-20 at Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, Fla.

“All of our tournaments are going to come together in a grand crescendo at the end,” said LPGA commissioner Mike Whan, who held the “golden ticket” players will receive during the Golf Channel announcement.

The top three players from each event will qualify for the year-ender. If a player already has qualified, the next top finisher from each week will earn a spot in the Titleholders.

“We have had such tremendous success with the LPGA in the past through our annual Global Financial Leadership Conference that we are thrilled to partner with them again,” said Terry Duffy, CME Group’s executive chairman. CME also sponsored the 2009 Solheim Cup.

The LPGA’s season finale has struggled to find its identity since changing from ADT’s $1 million shootout at Trump’s place. Stanford Financial was slated to title-sponsor the tour championship beginning in 2009. Stanford’s subsequent downfall put the LPGA in a precarious position. Rolex stepped up as a presenting sponsor in ’09 and will remain a partner in ’11. In 2010, the event moved from Houston to Orlando, where there was no title sponsor and the December date was less than desirable. Also, the 120-player field made the tournament seem like any other full-field event, and less like a season-ending all-star event.

Whan’s new vision, however, looks to highlight solid play and title sponsors from throughout the season. Caddies will wear bibs featuring the LPGA logos from the tournament at which the players qualified. The event’s $1.5 million purse will include the tour’s richest first-place prize: $500,000.

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