Japan’s Leading Airline Becomes Title Sponsor of the First Major of the LPGA Season & Official Airline of the LPGA
Naples, Florida, November 18, 2014 – The LPGA and IMG jointly announced today that All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s leading airline, will serve as title sponsor of the first major of the LPGA season. The newly-named ANA INSPIRATION will be held March 30th – April 5th, 2015, and will continue to be played at Mission Hills Country club in Rancho Mirage, California, home of the event since 1972.
ANA, which operates 72 international routes and 13 daily flights between North America and Japan, was also named the Official Airline of the LPGA.
The announcement ensures a bright future for the historic tournament, where the winner annually jumps into Poppie’s Pond next to the 18th green before donning the Champion’s robe. The long-term agreement between the LPGA, IMG and ANA begins in 2015 with an increase in the tournament purse to $2.5 million. Additional increases are scheduled over the first four years enabling the total purse to reach $3 million.
“This is a landmark occasion for ALL Nippon Airways and demonstrates our commitment to explore new horizons and strengthen our longstanding connection between key markets of Japan and North America,” said Yuji Hirako, Senior Vice President of the Americans, ANA. “In partnering with the LPGA and one of the most important major championships in all of golf we are embarking on a new journey that has the potential to inspire golfers worldwide. Together ANA and the LPGA can see that leaderboards are becoming truly global which creates exciting new opportunities that both organizations are ready to seize.”
ANA will unveil activities surrounding the major championship’s theme of inspiration leading up to the tournament in 2015.
While the event will take on a new name, the historic and tradition of the LPGA’s first major of the season will remain, ANA, the LPGA and IMG are committed to celebrating the tournament’s heritage as players will continue to compete for the Dinah Shore Trophy on the Dinah Shore Championship course at Mission Hills.
Six past champions of the event, which became a major in 1983, were in attendance at today’s press conference at the CME Group Tour Championship, where the LPGA’s 2015 Tournament Schedule featuring 33 tournaments was also announced.
“This partnership not only elevates one of the game’s greatest championships but also ensures that a major LPGA tradition will continue to grow and reach new heights,” said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan. “We are excited to welcome ANA to the LPGA family and grateful for their vision. Because of ANA, future generations of golfers all over the world can dream of competing at this spectacular venue with hopes of a leap into the same pond that has welcomed some of the greatest players in history.”
In July, the LPGA and IMG entered into a joint venture to seek sponsorship for the tournament after Kraft Nabisco announced its departure following 33 years as title partner. IMG began operating the tournament in 2012 and will continue to do so moving forward.
“Today’s announcement signals a new era for one of the LPGA’s most iconic tournaments,” said Kevin Hopkins, IMG’s Executive Director of the ANA INSPIRATION. “At IMG, we are proud to support the LPGA in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. and we look forward to delivering golf’s first major with our partner, ANA.”
In addition to operating the ANA INSPIRATION, IMG also produces the RICOH Women’s British Open, the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic and seven LPGA tournaments in Asia.
The traditional winner’s leap into Poppies Pond will remain intact with the ANA INSPIRATION returning to Mission Hills Country Club, which boasts the longest continuous run of any LPGA tournament at a single venue.
“We are proud to continue our long tradition of hosting the LPGA’s first major when the ANA INSPIRATION debuts at Mission Hills Country Club in 2015,” said Garret Kriske, General Manager at MHCC. “Our famed Tournament Course has been the stage for historic moments and great champions, and our membership is ecstatic that this legacy and tradition will continue inspiring young women to add their name to the Dinah Shore Trophy.”
Kelly Thesier, LPGA: Kelly.Thesier@lpga.com; (386 )274-6200
Mike Scanlan, IMG Golf: Mike.Scanlan@img.com; (216) 522-1200
Jean Saito, ANA: firstname.lastname@example.org; (310) 782-3178