‘Extremely Disappointed’ - Major LPGA Sponsor Questions Tour's Leadership

Not a single LPGA Tour player reportedly turned up to a dinner event hosted by one of their biggest supporting sponsors, CME Group

Duffy smiles in a press conference
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The CEO of CME Group, one of LPGA’s biggest sponsors, has hit out at the leadership of the Tour as they head into a record payday, labelling himself as ‘extremely disappointed’ after no players turned up to a dinner organised by the company.

Since 2011, the LPGA’s season concluding event has been sponsored by the CME Group and, this week, their CEO Terry Duffy, will supply the tournament with their biggest cheque in the history of the women’s game. A colossal $2million.

The tournament's overall purse is $7million, the largest outside of the majors on LPGA Tour. It is also an even bigger purse than two of the five majors, with the player who finishes their week in last place receiving $40,000, a similar amount to the player who finished in 10th place, last week.

Terry Duffy hands Jin Young Ko a cheque for $1.5million at the CME Tour Group Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

At CME’s conference last week, there were a number of players invited and, during the event, Duffy asked for the house lights to be switched on so the players in the tournament could be applauded. However, upon inspection, there wasn't a single LPGA player standing as none had shown up.

“It’s an embarrassment to a company of my size and an embarrassment to me personally,” said Duffy, two days after the event. “I am exceptionally disappointed with the leadership of the LPGA. They better get their act together because they’re going to lose people like me over stuff like this.”

Duffy’s company has been one of the biggest supporters of the LPGA Tour in recent years since their appearance as a sponsor in 2011, where they offered a purse of $1.5million. The Race to the CME Globe season-long points race was introduced three years later with a $1million bonus. In 2018, the format changed again into  winner-takes-all that saw the eventual winner take home $1.5million.

The current commissioner of the LPGA Tour is Mollie Marcoux Samaan, who was appointed 18 months ago. She was present at the dinner which the players missed and responded to the incident by saying she would now take ‘full responsibility’ to make sure it doesn't happen again.

LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan on the 18th green after the final round of the 2021 CME Group Tour Championship

Samaan was appointed LPGA Commissioner in May 2021

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“There hasn’t been any greater supporter of the LPGA than CME Group and Terry Duffy,” Marcoux Samaan told Golfweek on Friday when asked about the incident. “There was clearly a disconnect, and it’s my responsibility to make sure that this doesn’t happen. So on this particular issue, I’m taking full responsibility as a leader of the organization to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Cieran Faulder

Cieran joined the Golf Monthly team having previously written for other digital outlets like Reach PLC and Northern Golfer. After studying Journalism at Northumbria University, Cieran went on to complete an MA at the University of Sunderland. A big golf fan, he currently plays at Blyth Golf Club, where he holds a handicap of 8. Citing his favorite golfer as Tiger Woods, Cieran regards himself as the best snap hooker of a ball in the North of England.