In an effort to expand women's golf and encourage competition in the sport, the LPGA Tour and Epson America have agreed on a five-year agreement that makes the tech company the title sponsor to the Official Qualifying Tour of the LPGA — and will now be known as the Epson Tour.
As the tour enters its 42nd year of competition in 2022, it is the most established women's qualifying tour in the world, representing the "Road to the LPGA" for many women's golfers.
The newly formed partnership takes effect immediately, and extends through the 2026 calendar year. Additionally, Epson America's parent company, Seiko Epson Corporation, also becomes an Official Partner of the LPGA Tour and the Epson Tour.
Following the announcement of the agreement, LPGA Tour commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan praised the efforts and support of Epson America, and the brand's commitment to women's golf.
Said Marcoux Samaan, per AVNetwork: "We are delighted to welcome Epson to the LPGA Tour family. This ground-breaking partnership will provide expanded opportunities for the future stars of the game from around the globe to test their talent and take one step closer to realizing their dreams.
"We are grateful that Epson shares our commitment to supporting young female athletes as they grow and develop and to playing an active role in the growth and equity in women's sports. The 'Road to the LPGA' has never been better."
The Epson Tour will award membership to the top-10 players on the Race for the Card money list as the "Road to the LPGA" commences each season.
In addition to the exclusive naming rights for women's golfers on the road to the LPGA, the Epson Tour Ambassador Program will begin in 2022 as well, and extend $10,000 to each of the 2021 Epson Tour graduates. In addition, Epson is increasing standard tournament purse sizes to $200,000.
Given the support for women's golf and the "Road to the LPGA" for aspiring women's pro golfers, many are praising Epson's commitment — including Fatima Fernandez Cano, an Epson Tour graduate in 2020 and 2021, who was also the first representative of the Epson Tour Ambassador Program.
Added Fernandez Cano: "It's really incredible to see the impact that Epson is making right from the start of their partnership with the LPGA. They aren't just putting their name on the Epson Tour, but truly walking the walk and backing women's futures.
"I can't thank Epson enough for believing in me. When I came to America from Spain to play college golf at Troy, these types of moments were a dream. Now it's reality and I'm in a better position because of Epson."
Many notable LPGA players were either graduates or alumnae of the Epson Tour. These include names like Inbee Park, Lorena Ochoa, and Hannah Green.
The new partnership between the LPGA and Epson further expands the tour's efforts to attract top women's golfers from around the world.
Kicking off its season in Winter Haven, Florida from March 4-6, the 2022 Epson Tour will return of the Florida's Natural Charity Classic. Epson America will also assume sponsorship of the Epson Tour Championship, which concludes the season in Daytona Beach, Fla., from Oct. 6-9 at LPGA International.