LA Championship purse rises to $3.75 million

LA Championship purse rises to $3.75 million

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Over the course of its nearly 75-year history, the LPGA has had a handful of business titans champion the organization in extraordinary ways.

While it’s early days for Walter Wang and his wife Shirley, who only got into the business of sponsoring an LPGA event two years ago, the impact and the passion are already significant.

Last year, the JM Eagle LA Championship purse doubled from $1.5 million to $3 million. This year, the Wangs upped it again to $3.75 million, making it the highest purse on tour outside the majors and the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. Walter, who is CEO of, JM Eagle signed on for a five-year commitment as title sponsor. Shirley Wang is CEO of Plastpro, which serves as the event’s presenting sponsor.

There are now 11 non-major tournaments with purses of $3 million or more in 2024, up from five last year. Total LPGA prize money is now more than $120 million this season.

“I thought, these ladies deserve more,” said Wang, when he realized the extent of the gap between PGA Tour and LPGA purses. “I spoke to my wife and said, ‘Let’s do this. And if we’re going to do this, let’s do it right.’ ”

2023 JM Eagle LA Championship

Hannah Green poses with the trophy after winning the 2023 JM Eagle LA Championship at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles. (Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)

In addition to the purse, the tournament, scheduled for April 25-28, will also cover lodging costs for the 144 players in the field and provide complimentary shuttle access to Wilshire Country Club throughout tournament week. Early commitments include the top four players in the world: Nelly Korda, Lilia Vu, Celine Boutier and Ruoning Yin.

Lizette Salas, a California native and 12-year veteran of the LPGA, knows the kind of statement the Wangs are making in L.A.

“Yeah, it’s an incredible feeling just to witness the growth of the game, ” said Salas, “the involvement of the sponsors who really – just really value how hard we work and how much we love this game and really just want to – they pay attention to details like Shirley and Walter really just try to take some stress off of our plate for the week.”

Wang’s JM Eagle is the world’s largest manufacturer of plastic pipe, and when asked what supporting the LPGA does for his business, he very bluntly said “nothing.”

“I’m a plastic pipe producer,” he explained. “There’s almost no value to putting our name out there or advertising the brand name. That’s not us. We’re a very commodity-driven business.”

At the heart of Wang’s sponsorship is giving back to the community, which he considers the responsibility of all companies.

Wang’s father, Yung-ching Wang, a Taiwanese billionaire, expanded his plastics company to the U.S. in 1982. Walter started working for JM in 1990, growing the business five times over since then organically. What was a $200-plus million business grew to over $1 billion in 10 years.

Wang’s love of golf started in his early 20s back in Taiwan. He appreciates the life lessons the game provides and wants to introduce the sport to more young people, particularly in after-school programs for at-risk youth.

A devout Christian, Wang said a battle with a rare cancer that took him to Hong Kong for treatment nearly 20 years ago greatly shapes how he views life and his purpose.

“It was like a sabbatical with God,” he said.

While presidents and CEOs choose to get involved in sponsoring the tour for myriad reasons, Wang said reaping the long-term rewards is what’s truly precious.

“Inside your heart, it feels great,” said Wang. “You feel a lot of joy supporting the LPGA. You just do.”

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