LPGA Cognizant Founders Cup at Upper Montclair CC is More Than Your Ordinary Professional Tournament
CLIFTON, N.J. – The LPGA Cognizant Founders Cup represents much more than just a professional golf tournament. It's honoring the 13 founders, celebrating current LPGA trailblazers and accelerating diversity.
The 11th edition of the tournament returns to the Garden State and will be played from May 12-15 at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton.
Defending champion and LPGA No. 1 Jin Young Ko headlines the 2022 field. Coming off a victory at the Palos Verdes Championship, local product Marina Alex is in the 144-player field as she returns to North Jersey.
Cognizant, title sponsor for the 2022 event has helped the event reach new heights. Not only is the purse $3M, but the Teaneck based organization and the LPGA are dedicated to recognizing the 13 founders and what they have done to contribute to the game. The 13 founders are Alice Bauer, Patty Berg, Bettye Danoff, Helen Detweiler, Marlene Bauer Hagge, Helen Hicks, Opal Hill, Betty Jameson, Sally Sessions, Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork, Louise Suggs and Babe Zaharias.
“It’s amazing,” expressed 13-time LPGA winner Stacy Lewis. “It’s been eye opening for all of our players to realize the history and what those women went through to create our tour. The sacrifices that they’ve made, it’s really fitting that this purse is our highest purse other than our majors. It deserves that. Our founders deserve that. They deserve to be on this platform and we’re going to continue to honor them as long as possible.”
For Cognizant, the Founders Cup and the LPGA embodies exactly what they strive for as an organization; promoting diversity and inclusion.
“As we built our relationship with the LPGA and the Founders Cup, it just aligned so closely to our values of creating those conditions, inspiring, driving and empowering women and other underrepresented groups to have the same chances. To bring them to the table so they can have the same opportunities as well,” explained Shameka Young, Cognizant VP & Global Head, Diversity & Inclusion. “For us, being able to advocate in a premiere sports platform like the LPGA is just inspiring from a D&I prospective.”
After visiting Mountain Ridge Country Club in 2021, the LPGA Cognizant Founders Cup heads to Upper Montclair Country Club, a club that is notorious for hosting over 20 professional golf tournaments in the past, including the LPGA Sybase Classic, LPGA Coca-Cola Classic, Cadillac NFL Classic (Champions Tour), Dow Jones Open, Thunderbird Classic and the LPGA Chrysler-Plymouth Classic.
“Our founding members, known as the Upper 10 shared a vision of what it could be when individuals come together for a common purpose,” said Charlie Dimpfl, Upper Montclair Country Club General Manager and COO. “That vision and the vision of the founders coming together today brings three great organizations together. We at Upper Montclair consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to work with two global brands like the LPGA and Cognizant growing the game of golf and ushering in the next era of professional golf at UMCC.”
Upper Montclair was home to 15 New Jersey Championships such as the Amateur (1932, 1948, 1959, 1975), Open (2001), Women’s Amateur (1935, 2016), Senior Amateur (1962), Junior (1921, 1935, 1972), Boys (1972), Women’s Senior (1999), Father & Son (1935) and Senior Four-Ball (1997). The private Clifton golf club also welcomed the historic Compher Cup in 1967 and the Stoddard Trophy in 1994.
John Shippen Shoot-out Presented by Cognizant
As part of Cognizant’s continued commitment to supporting equal opportunity and diversity in the game of golf and beyond, an 18-hole stroke play qualifier for Black female golfers was conducted at Mountain Ridge Country Club on Monday, May 9. The winner, Lakareber Abe, of The Woodlands, Texas earned an exemption into this years Cognizant Founders Cup after shooting a 4-over 75 and winning a playoff.
“We work with Black amateur and professional golfers, men and women, to help them get that opportunity to play at a much higher level,” said Ashley Jones, Director of Golf at Intersport.
This is the second year Intersport has worked with Cognizant and The John Shippen to conduct this qualifier. Last year, USC star Amari Avery earned the exemption into the 2021 Founders Cup.
The John Shippen organization is named after John Shippen, Jr., who paved the way for African Americans in golf. He was the first American-born golf professional and also the country’s first Black golf professional. He was a golf professional at Shady Rest Golf Course in Scotch Plains from 1924 to 1960 and was inducted into the inaugural NJSGA Hall of Fame class in 2018.
“We want to make sure that these golfers are recognized, heard and seen and The John Shippen events gives that opportunity.”
Abe, who plays on the Epson Tour will make her first start on the LPGA in 2022. She played at the University of Alabama from 2014-2018.