For instance, Whan labored with KPMG and the P.G.A. of America to rebrand and revitalize one of many girls’s 5 main championships, arranging the inaugural KPMG Ladies’s P.G.A. Championship at Westchester Nation Membership in 2015. It was the primary L.P.G.A. occasion to incorporate a girls’s management summit, and greater than a dozen such occasions are actually related to tournaments all through the calendar.
“It fully modified the best way that Mike bought to sponsors,” mentioned Shawn Quill, the managing director at KPMG answerable for sports activities sponsorships. “He embraced what we have 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 impression 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 carrying the accent as a rookie — and he consistently wrote thank-you notes.
Whan saved gamers high of thoughts as he deftly led the Tour by means of 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 have been performed, and each match sponsor is about to return for 2021. When tournaments resumed, security protocols yielded solely 42 constructive coronavirus assessments out of the roughly 7,200 that got all year long.
Communication and transparency have 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 taking part in in an occasion in South Korea. At 3 a.m., her cellphone began ringing like loopy. She lastly despatched a textual content that mentioned: “Who’re you? Please cease calling me.” Whan responded that he was the brand new commissioner and needed to say hi there, so Kim acquired away from bed and known as again, beginning a heat relationship.
“He offered us with the data that we would have liked to know the place the Tour was and the place the Tour was headed,” Kim mentioned. “He gave us the flexibility to not solely imagine in his wishes and desires and skill for the L.P.G.A., however he made us imagine that we mattered.”