ANA wings in for rights to LPGA major

Japanese airline All Nippon Airways has secured a long-term deal with the Ladies Professional Golf Association and the IMG agency to serve as the title sponsor of the first women’s golf major tournament of the calendar year from 2015.

The event at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California – running from March 30 to April 5 – will be known as ANA Inspiration under the deal, while ANA has also secured the right to become the official airline of the LPGA.

The tournament prize fund will increase to $2.5m (€2m) in 2015, with additional boosts during the first four years of the partnership taking it up to $3m.

IMG and the LPGA entered into a joint venture to find a new title sponsor in July after Kraft Nabisco ended a 33-year association.

“This is a landmark occasion for All Nippon Airways and demonstrates our commitment to explore new horizons and strengthen our longstanding connection between key markets of Japan and North America,” Yuji Hirako, senior vice-president of the Americas at ANA, said. “Together ANA and the LPGA can see that leaderboards are becoming truly global, which creates exciting new opportunities that both organisations are ready to seize.”

Mission Hills has hosted its LPGA event since 1972, the longest continuous run of any tournament on the tour at a single venue, and the battle for the Dinah Shore Trophy was upgraded to major status in 1983.