The Mizuho Americas Open created a new standard on the LPGA Tour before the first shot was struck.
LPGA players competing in the inaugural event received complimentary lodging at the Conrad New York Downtown, a perk that’s unheard of on the LPGA at full-field domestic events. In addition, players will take the nearby ferry each day to the steps of the Liberty National clubhouse, just as the men did for the Presidents Cup and the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust.
“It doesn’t seem like a big deal,” said tournament host and Mizuho ambassador Michelle Wie West, “when you hear of NBA players, they’re chartered everywhere and staying in the Four Seasons every week. But that’s one of the unseen pain points in a female athlete’s career.”
Mizuho Americas, headquartered in New York City, is the fastest-growing region within Mizuho Financial Group, with 55,000 employees and $2 trillion in assets. Sponsoring an LPGA event is the bank’s entrée into the sports marketing space.
“It’s been really amazing to see their commitment to everything,” said Wie West, “and their commitment to do it right.”
The Mizuho Americas Open takes place June 1-4 in Jersey City, New Jersey, and features a field of 120 players vying for a purse of $2.75 million, one of the largest among non-major events.
Jerry Rizzieri, president and CEO of Mizuho Securities USA, said that while they did look at several PGA Tour options for sponsorship, which would’ve been more advantageous in terms of viewership numbers, that’s not what drove the mission. Mizuho views this as a purpose-driven sponsorship.
“Our organization, I feel, has done a good job at creating opportunities for women,” said Rizzieri. “Two of our three largest divisions are actually headed by women. In general, I feel like women are very underrepresented, certainly in our industry, and certainly at the very senior levels. But also I believe that the athletes themselves, whether it be the WNBA or the LPGA, are very much under-appreciated. Not only for their skill, but their dedication.
“When I think about the progress that has been made over the years, it’s certainly commendable, but still, there’s a long way to go.”
Wie West, 33, decided to step away from tour life after last year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles. The only event that remains on her competitive golf calendar is the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach. Husband Jonnie West has volunteered to caddie at Pebble next…
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