Women's British Open secures AIG as new title sponsor

Mel Reid Women's British Open Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Women's British Open secures AIG as new title sponsor

LPGA Tour

Women's British Open secures AIG as new title sponsor

European women’s golf finally received some good news Thursday with the announcement that AIG will sponsor the Women’s British Open for the next five years.

American International Group, Inc. takes over from Ricoh. The Japanese company ended its sponsorship of the Women’s British this year after acting as title sponsor since 2007. Georgia Hall will defend the 2019 AIG Women’s British Open over the Marquess Course at Woburn Golf Club near London from Aug. 1-4 next year. Ariya Jutanugarn won the Women’s British at Woburn two years ago over the same course.

“We are pleased to become the title sponsor of the Women’s British Open,” said Brian Duperreault, AIG president and CEO. “This championship is an iconic tournament combining tradition, world-class golf and a diverse global audience that reflects all of AIG’s stakeholders.”

The global insurance company will partner the R&A and IMG in promoting and staging the tournament. The company was previously a major sponsor for Manchester United. This is AIG’s first foray into golf.

“This is an exciting time for women’s golf, and we are delighted to welcome AIG as the title sponsor for the Women’s British Open,” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said. “AIG’s support will help us continue to grow and develop the championship even further.”

Ross Hallett, IMG’s executive tournament director and senior vice president, said: “Having a leading global brand as prestigious as AIG partner with the Women’s British Open speaks volumes for what we have achieved in recent years, the appeal of golf and the ever-increasing stature of the women’s game.”

There was no announcement on an increase on last year’s $3.25 million prize fund. No surprise there. The R&A tends to announce total prize money for the Open Championship closer to the tournament, and there’s no reason to expect the governing body to act differently for the Women’s British.

The AIG news comes as the Ladies European Tour struggles to provide playing opportunities for its members. The LET has seen a number of events fall off its schedule in recent years after the disastrous leadership of former chief executive Ivan Khodabakhsh.

The LET has just ended its association with the Vic Open. LPGA players will take part in the 2019 event instead of LET players. The Vic Open had been part of the LET schedule for a number of seasons, and joins a lengthy list of former LET tournaments.

Slumbers may think it’s an exciting time for women’s golf, but it isn’t an exciting time for women’s golf in Europe. The R&A chief has pledged to get more girls and women taking up the game. That’s to be commended since an ever-decreasing professional schedule has seen many players giving up the game. No wonder AIG’s five-year commitment to Europe’s premier women’s tournament comes as welcome news.

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