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New LPGA event coming to New York City area with novel format (and star host)

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A new LPGA tournament is coming to the New York City area — with a creative twist.

The newly announced Mizuho Americas Open will make its debut May 29-June 4, 2023, at a high-profile venue — Liberty National Golf Club, in Jersey City, N.J. — and with a high-profile host: recently retired LPGA star and Mizuho brand ambassador Michelle Wie West.

But wait, there’s more!

The event will also feature a format that is unique in the world of professional golf. In a collaboration between the LPGA and the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), two parallel tournaments will be contested concurrently over four days. The 120 pros will compete for the Mizuho Americas Open trophy and a $2.75 million purse, while the AJGA will field the 24 best junior girl players — selected via the Rolex AJGA Rankings — in an AJGA Invitational. For the first two days, the juniors will play in their own respective groups while the pros play together in separate groupings.

On the weekend, the real fun begins. The LPGA cut will be a smaller-than-normal 50 players. Those players will be split into twosomes and each group will be joined by one of the junior players. These threesomes will play together through the remainder of the weekend.

When Wie West stepped away from competitive golf, she said one of her goals would be to continue efforts to grow women’s golf from the ground up, and this tournament and its unique format, she said, are the perfect vehicle to do that.

“When I made the transition away from playing fulltime, these were the type of things I really wanted to do,” Wie West said at a Friday press conference at Liberty National. “Growing women’s golf, growing access to the game, growing diversity into the game. I’m extremely honored that I get the opportunity to do all the things I want to do really all in one tournament.”

LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan, who also was in attendance at Liberty National, noted the star power Wie West brings to the new endeavor.

“To have one of the most amazing women that I’ve met and one of the most iconic female golfers [as our host], who really has turned her attention to growing the LPGA and helping us advance our mission, I don’t think we could ask for anything better,” Marcoux Samaan said. “This is kind of a homerun times 10.”

Part of the mission of the event is to give the juniors an invaluable opportunity to experience the atmosphere, competitiveness and pressure that comes with playing in professional tournaments. They also will be treated just as the pros are throughout the week, including press conferences, sponsor dinners, practice rounds and everything else that goes into being a player at the highest level.

This 14-year-old (!) just Monday qualified for her third-straight LPGA event
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Jason Etzen, chief business officer at the AJGA, said this partnership with the LPGA is a huge opportunity for junior golf.

“Kevin Hopkins [VP of Excel Sports Management] came to me and started to explain the idea and the people and organizations that were going to be involved, and I think I said yes before he finished talking,” Etzen said. “It was a very quick yes on our part knowing what this is going to do to help develop the lucky young 24 girls.”

Mizuho is a multi-national financial services corporation, and the Americas Open is its first investment in the U.S. sporting landscape. Jerry Rizzieri, Mizuho Americas president and CEO, said the company’s decision to get involved in the tournament was an easy choice.

“We wanted to do something that not only was good for our business, but we also wanted to do something that showcases our values,” Rizzieri said. “We wanted to make a difference. Women athletes I think are very much underappreciated. We thought it was a great message for us to showcase the talent of these women at an unbelievable location right around New York City.”

For two dozen talented girls — and for junior golf as a whole — it will be a week they won’t soon forget.

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