The importance of Asia, including South Korea, to the U.S. Women’s Professional Golf (LPGA) Tour is unimaginable. One person in particular has had a huge impact on the development of golf in Asia. Sean Byun (Korean name Byun Jin-hyung) is the LPGA’s representative for Asia. Since joining the LPGA in 2008 and becoming the head of Asia in 2014, Byun has been instrumental in growing the tour with the creation of the BMW Ladies Championship and Lotte Championship.
In a recent interview with the Korea Economic Daily, Byun said, “I think the most important thing for a professional golfer is money. The LPGA Tour is also making a lot of efforts to increase prize money,” he said. “Rather than just increasing the number of tournaments, we are focusing on increasing the quality, such as total prize money. In three to five years, the LPGA Tour will have a total prize pool that will be unmatched by any other tour.”
The LPGA Tour has seen a dramatic increase in the number of events and total prize money since the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, there are 34 tournaments (including national championships) and total prize money has surpassed $100 million for the first time ever. Sean Byun attributes this to the efforts of the entire LPGA Tour organization. “There is no one person who can do anything on the LPGA Tour. “There’s nothing you can do on the LPGA Tour alone, including organizing tournaments,” he said. “I think the LPGA Tour is what it is today because everyone, including the commissioner, has done their best in their respective positions.
As the head of LPGA Tour Asia, he has secured numerous tournaments and credits his success to being able to adapt to sponsors. “When I get rejected, I don’t give up right away, and I try to figure out what they want,” he says. “If the first proposal doesn’t work, I change my strategy and make a second and third proposal to convince them. I’ve been rejected thousands of times, and it’s still not easy to accept. As long as I’m the LPGA Tour’s Asian representative, I’ll continue to work on my game so that I can win the hearts and minds of my opponents,” she said with a smile.
Sean Byun has one dream in her heart. He has one dream: to bring an LPGA Tour major to Asia. “It may seem impossible, but it is one of the goals that I would like to achieve one day as the LPGA Tour Asia representative,” he said. “There will be many challenges, but we will continue to face them and move forward one step at a time to host the first LPGA Tour Major in Asia.”
What is the driving force behind the LPGA Tour’s rise to prominence beyond the United States? “Not too long ago, there were about 20 nationalities represented on the LPGA Tour, and this year, there are 36,” said Sean Byun. “With more talented players, international interest in the LPGA Tour has increased. The LPGA Tour is attracting a lot of up-and-coming talent, so in 10 years, it’s going to be a lot bigger than it is today.”
He disagreed that Korean players’ presence on the LPGA Tour has diminished in recent years. “It’s true that the number of wins has decreased, but Korean players are still performing at the top of their game,” said Sean Byun. “It’s not that Korean players aren’t playing well, it’s just that players from other countries like Thailand, France, and China have gotten better. As Korean talent continues to break through on the LPGA Tour, we can expect to see the country once again return to its glory days.”
The BMW Ladies Championship, an LPGA Tour event held in South Korea, has announced plans to continue to provide opportunities for local amateurs. At this year’s event, amateur Seo Jin Park made a surprise appearance and tied for 13th place. “The LPGA Tour is only as good as its promising players,” said Sean Byun, CEO of the LPGA Tour, “and we are looking at a number of programs to help Korean amateurs with outstanding skills experience the LPGA Tour.” 캡틴토토 주소