For instance, Whan labored with KPMG and the P.G.A. of America to rebrand and revitalize one of many ladies’s 5 main championships, arranging the inaugural KPMG Girls’s P.G.A. Championship at Westchester Nation Membership in 2015. It was the primary L.P.G.A. occasion to incorporate a ladies’s management summit, and greater than a dozen such occasions are actually related to tournaments all through the calendar.
“It utterly modified the best way that Mike offered to sponsors,” stated Shawn Quill, the managing director at KPMG in command of sports activities sponsorships. “He embraced what we had been doing, and it led to an entire change in what the worth proposition was for the L.P.G.A. Tour.”
Gamers say Whan’s affect wasn’t restricted to the tour’s relationship with sponsors. The gamers, each present and retired, felt a connection to their fast-speaking, self-deprecating commissioner. He created many catchy nicknames — Olson was “headband” due to her penchant for sporting the accent as a rookie — and he consistently wrote thank-you notes.
Whan stored gamers prime of thoughts as he deftly led the Tour by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, publicly lobbying sponsors to pay their athletes even once they weren’t competing within the contractually required variety of tournaments for the yr. There was no discount in purses for the 18 occasions that had been performed, and each event sponsor is ready to return for 2021. When tournaments resumed, security protocols yielded solely 42 optimistic coronavirus exams out of the roughly 7,200 that got all year long.
Communication and transparency had been the 2 phrases gamers repeatedly used to explain Whan’s tenure, which has had a private contact they are saying will probably be sorely missed.
The tour veteran Christina Kim remembered that when Whan was first employed, she was enjoying in an occasion in South Korea. At three a.m., her cellphone began ringing like loopy. She lastly despatched a textual content that stated: “Who’re you? Please cease calling me.” Whan responded that he was the brand new commissioner and wished to say hey, so Kim obtained away from bed and known as again, beginning a heat relationship.
“He supplied us with the data that we would have liked to know the place the Tour was and the place the Tour was headed,” Kim stated. “He gave us the power to not solely consider in his needs and needs and talent for the L.P.G.A., however he made us consider that we mattered.”