RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said the tour will return to Mission Hills in 2015. There will be another leap into Poppie’s Pond.
“As I said to the GM (Garret Kriske) here a couple nights ago, we’re coming back,” Whan said. “And if I come back without a sponsor, I come back without a sponsor.”
Whan met with the media Thursday morning to discuss the future of the year’s first major after Kraft Nabisco’s run as tournament sponsor ends Sunday. Whan said there are three potential sponsors on site this week: two based in southern California and one from overseas.
It costs about $6.5 million to take control of the LPGA’s version of the Masters; a new contract would start with at least a five-year commitment. Whan said the LPGA will assume ownership of the event for now and the tournament staff will remain in place. A change in date is not being discussed.
“We’ve put a lot of money into tournaments the last couple years, and it’s all turned into good things,” Whan said. “I can’t think of anything more strategically correct to fund than this one, if we had to.”
Whan put the likelihood at landing a sponsor for next year at 75 percent.
Mission Hills has hosted an LPGA event since 1973 and a major since ’83.
“It’s the best major event we have,” Nancy Lopez said. “It’s just quality.”
There’s been a push from veteran players such as Karrie Webb and Juli Inkster to put Dinah Shore’s name back into the tournament title. The event debuted as the Colgate Dinah Shore in 1972 before it was changed to Nabisco Dinah Shore in 1982. Nabisco dropped the Dinah Shore name in 2000. It has been known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship since 2002, though many still refer to it as “The Dinah.”
Whan said that while putting the legendary entertainer’s name back into the title is “desirable,” it’s not mandatory. It’s a business, he said.
“In my commissioner tenure,” Whan said, “I’m not going to lose this major.”