Ten years ago, the LPGA Tour had eight players who earned at least $ 1 million during the season. Nasa Hataoka is an indication of all that has changed.

The 22-year-old Japanese won over $ 1 million from his two finalists this year.

They have come to events with the two biggest purses on the LPGA Tour, the US Women’s Open and the CME Group Tour Championship. Even so, it was an example of how strong the stock markets are, and now the LPGA Tour is heading into a 2022 season where prize money exceeds $ 90 million.

This is what Mollie Marcoux Samaan takes charge of as she enters her first full year as Commissioner. She spoke last week that the LPGA Tour was positioned for growth and “now is our time”.

“I think people have had a wake-up call around women’s sport as well,” she said. “And they said, ‘Wow, that’s an undervalued asset in the world. We must emphasize this value.

“So I think in general, because of the world’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, I think people looked at women’s sport and said, ‘C ‘is an area in the world where there is not a lot of parity or a lot of equity.’ ”

The LPGA has just completed its 72nd season, with 15 players earning $ 1 million or more.

Terry Duffy, CEO and President of CME, was among the biggest supporters offering the biggest first-place check, at $ 1.5 million. The CME Group Championship raised its purse by $ 2 million next year to $ 7 million, including $ 2 million for the winner.

The LPGA Tour has 19 of its 34 official events with purses of $ 2 million or more, up from 15 of those events five years ago.

The five majors total at least $ 26.3 million, up from $ 18.7 million five years ago. It remains to be determined the US Women’s Open, which was looking for a presenting sponsor and could announce early next year a scholarship that will be the largest in women’s golf.

He still has a big gap to fill with the PGA Tour, where already 16 players have won $ 1 million or more in just nine fall events to start the new season.

“We are constantly reviewing all levels of the tour. How are our best players doing, financially, how are the middle players doing, how are the inferior players doing? We are looking at pay equity, ”said Marcoux Samaan. “We’re looking at the deltas between the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour, and the delta gets bigger as you go down the winners list.

“I think if we can close this delta, and also if we can make sure that the best players in the world can make a living to match their talent, I think that’s a very big goal for us.”

ONE MORE MOUNTAIN

Collin Morikawa has had a year worth celebrating. His three wins include a world golf championship, a second major at the British Open and his first victory on the European Tour in the DP World Championship to become the first American to win the Race to Dubai.

And the year is not over.

Next week is the Hero World Challenge, and while it’s an unofficial holiday event, there are World Ranking Points at stake.

And for Morikawa, the No. 1 ranking is too.

According to projections from a world ranking specialist known on Twitter only as “Nosferatu”, Morikawa could reach world number 1 if he were to win in the Bahamas. But not for long. With the formula involved, Jon Rahm would return to No.1 a week later.

It would be OK with Morikawa. The 24-year-old Californian just wants to make it happen.

“I am certainly aware of this,” he said. “I hope we can get there, even if it’s just for this week. I’m sure we’ll have plenty more chances hopefully next year.

Morikawa said becoming world No.1 has been a goal for as long as he can remember, and it’s not an opportunity he takes lightly when he considers only 24 players have been No.1. since the start of the ranking in 1986.

“There have been a lot of great players who haven’t and it shows how difficult it is,” he said.

END OF AN ERA

The CME Group Tour Championship was the end of the LPGA season, and it turned out to be kind of a farewell on the broadcast front.

Beth Hutter is stepping away from producing the LPGA Tour cover for Golf Channel, wishing to spend more time at home with her young daughter.

Judy Rankin also says she’s done with a full-time broadcast program. Rankin is a Hall of Fame player whose neighbor and bossy voice has been a staple of LPGA events. She was previously at ABC and ESPN as a traveling analyst during Tiger Woods’ peak years.

Fittingly, she was honored by Mollie Marcoux Samaan with the “Commissioner’s Award,” which dates back to 1991 as a way of honoring those who have made a unique contribution to the LPGA.

Along with her broadcast, Rankin was the first player to exceed $ 100,000 in earnings in 1976. She also won the Solheim Cup captain in 1996 and 1998.

“I guess I had the best front row seat ever,” said Rankin, who turns 77 in February. “The LPGA has been my neighborhood and I love this neighborhood. I was really lucky to have a second chance after being a player to spend so much time here and to be friends with young players. It was really amazing for me.

KAPALUA FIELD

The Sentry Tournament of Champions had a field of 42 players to start the year due to a shortened 2020 pandemic which led the PGA Tour to extend qualifying to the winners and anyone who reaches the Tour Championship.

Now it’s the return of the winners only in Kapalua, and the field could reach 38 players.

Patrick Cantlay has won three times this year, and eight other players have won twice.

While the deadline to register is still over a month away, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson are the only ones not planning to be in Maui. McIlroy is starting his year in Abu Dhabi, while Mickelson (who hasn’t played for Kapalua since 2002) has said his first stop will likely be the American Express in the California desert, where he is hosting the tournament.

SUNRISE

The European Tour is now launching under its new name – the DP World Tour – so it was only fitting that the first announcement was that it will add a tournament in Japan to its schedule. It will be the 51st country to host a touring event.

Around the world, indeed.

The ISPS Handa Championship will take place April 21-24 at PGM Ishioka Golf Club in Omitama. It will be co-sanctioned with the Japan Golf Tour.

DIVOTS

BMW has signed a five-year extension to 2027 as the title sponsor of the only rotating PGA Tour post-season event. The BMW Championship will take place at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware next year and return to Olympia Fields south of Chicago in 2023.… Brooks Koepka, a free agent since Nike stopped making golf clubs, has signed a agreement with Srixon. Koepka will use the Srixon driver, golf irons and balls, and play with Cleveland wedges. He used the irons to win the Phoenix Open this year. … The US Amateur will travel to Inverness in 2029. The Toledo, Ohio club recently hosted the Solheim Cup this year.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Nasa Hataoka won $ 1.074 million for second place at the US Women’s Open and CME Group Tour Championship. She won $ 645,000 for her two victories at the LPGA Classic Marathon and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

LAST WORD

“I’m going to set myself high goals. I still have. I’m going to set the bar as high as possible and continue. -Collin Morikawa.

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