Tourney for the ages: Mizuho Americas Open comes to Liberty National this week

LPGA event, in 2nd year, features present (and future) stars in unique format

Here’s how far women’s golf has come since last June, when phenom Rose Zhang became one of the biggest names in the game after winning the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City in her first LPGA event.

Zhang doesn’t even have the top billing this year.

That distinction goes to Nelly Korda, who had won five straight tour starts before a top-ten finish at last weekend’s Cognizant Founders Cup at Upper Montclair Country Club.

Of course, that’s all part of the lure of the event.

The Mizuho Americas Open was created to showcase the past, present and future stars of the game — as its unique format has an American Junior Golf Association tournament being played concurrently with the LPGA event, one that quickly is becoming the biggest non-major event on the tour.

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Kevin Hopkins, a vice president at Excel Sports Management and the executive director of the tournament, said the format — which features 120 LPGA pros and 24 top juniors — has helped the event quickly reach another level.

“It’s an unbelievable event that celebrates all generations of golf,” he said.

More than that, it shows what happens when all generations of golf come together for the good of the game.

“The coolest thing for me is to see the mentorship,” he said.

It starts with the tournament host, Michelle Wie, who not only is a former major champion — but a former phenom who drew attention when she played in a dozen men’s events two decades ago.

Kevin Hopkins.

“When you see somebody like Michelle Wie, an icon of the game, put her arm around Rose Zhang, who’s now one of the faces of the tour who’s trying to figure it out and become a superstar — and then, you see Zhang do the same with Yana Wilson, one of the top juniors in the world, you see what it’s all about,” Hopkins said.

The event features LPGA pairings and AJGA pairings on the first two days, but on the weekend, the groups are mixed.

“The junior players not only get a chance to play with the players they look up to, they get to see what it’s like to play in front of big crowds and on TV,” Hopkins said.

They get to participate in women’s sports at a time when women’s sports have never been hotter.

Individual tickets

Several individual and weeklong ticket packages are available for the 2024 event, including general admission for $35 that provides access to the tournament grounds any day Wednesday-Sunday, and $130 to the Garden State Terrace, a viewing platform overlooking the No. 17 green and No. 18 tee inclusive of beer, wine, hard seltzer and snacks.

All juniors 17 and under receive free general admission with a ticketed adult, and veterans, first responders and active military also receive free general admission with a military ID or service verification.

From University of Iowa basketball star Caitlin Clark and the record viewership of the women’s Final Four (higher than the men’s) to the always strong support for the U.S. women’s national soccer team to always popular Women’s College World Series, which starts in a few weeks, women’s sports are hot.

Hopkins thinks it’s more than that.

“I don’t want to call it a moment, because I think it can be a movement,” he said. “I think everything going on right now is great for women’s sports across the board.

“The impact of Caitlin Clark is very real, but this didn’t just start with Caitlin Clark.”

Women’s golf, Hopkins points out, has been steadily increasing its appeal, thanks — in some small part — to the dysfunction of the men’s game, which has infighting around the PGA and LIV tours.

Hopkins thinks anyone who may have switched over to see women’s golf found a far better event than they may have been expecting.

“I think women’s golf is starting to really catch the attention of the general sports fan,” he said.

HMH, N.J. Lottery among top sponsors of Mizuho event

A strong list of national and local corporate partners has joined Mizuho in celebrating the best female golfers in the world during the 2024 Mizuho Americas Open, including Hackensack Meridian Health, Delta Air Lines, Workday, Acer, Sands New York, Tumi, Cisco, Dunning, Bloomberg, Datasite, New Jersey Lottery and iovera.

Hopkins knows this firsthand. Excel Sports, which runs the annual Capital One The Match made-for-TV event each winter, added two women’s players to the event for the first time, as Lexi Thompson and Zhang played with Rory McIlroy and Max Homa.

Hopkins is confident that the Mizuho Americas Open will bring even more exposure — and do it in front of leaders of some of the biggest companies in the country and around the globe.

The Jersey City setting — and the ferry service the tournament will provide to Manhattan — only add to the event, Hopkins said.

“There’s an unbelievable fan base in this area — and Liberty National really does it right,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the support of our sponsors, especially Mizuho, but, with them, we feel we can offer a fabulous experience.”

Dan Fireman, the executive chairman of Liberty National Golf Club, certainly agreed.

“We are thrilled to welcome back the best female golfers in the world to Liberty National,” he said.  “Hosting such a special event at our club fits perfectly within our broader mission to embrace and grow the game of golf that we all love.

“As longtime supporters of the AJGA and junior golf more broadly, we take tremendous pride in watching future stars shine brightly alongside today’s top players.”