Golf: Pros play for no pay in new LPGA event
Daytona Beach: LPGA Tour officials announced a 25-event, 12-nation schedule for 2011 on Thursday that begins next month in Thailand and Singapore and features a US opener in March with no prize money.
Two events were lost from last year’s elite women’s golf schedule, although one of them is set for a 2012 return, and LPGA commissioner Michael Whan was happy with a lineup that offers total purses worth 44.37 million dollars.
“We’re pleased that golf’s global tour was able to withstand the economic downturn by securing 23 of its existing 24 events from 2010, a reflection of our renewed commitment to our partners,” Whan said.
“At the same time, we’re thrilled to add new ideas and new tournaments in the US, Taiwan and China. Fans certainly will enjoy a revitalized LPGA that will continue to grow in the US and other countries through 2012 and beyond.”
New events include the Imperial Springs LPGA in Guangzhou, China, next August, October’s LPGA Taiwan Championship and the LPGA Founders Cup, a 54-hole US event in March at Phoenix where winnings go to the LPGA Foundation charity.
“The addition of Taiwan and China events further prove we are truly a global tour,” said Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, the LPGA Player of the Year after winning two major titles in 2010.
“With the economic downturn, commissioner Whan and his team have done a great job to secure as many events as they did in 2010.”
The LPGA season tees off February 17 at the Honda LPGA Thailand and the HSBC Women’s Championship follows the next week in Singapore.
The first of 13 US tournaments comes March 18-20 at Phoenix, where players will earn rankings points and money toward the season championship event though the money will go to developing youth golf programs.
After a tuneup event, the women face the first major championship of 2011 at the Kraft Nabisco in Rancho Mirage, California.
The LPGA goes to Mexico and Alabama in April, New Jersey and Brazil in May and makes stops in New Jersey and Illinois before a week off ahead of the year’s second major, the LPGA Championship at suburban Rochester, New York.
After another week off comes the third major of the season, the US Women’s Open on July 7-10 at Colorado Springs, before the LPGA goes to France a week ahead of the year’s final major, the Women’s British Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, on July 28-31 with the new event in China set for the following week.
Tseng will defend titles in the first and last majors of the campaign.
Three US events and the Canadian Women’s Open follow before the Solheim Cup pits US and European teams in Ireland on September 23-25.
A final Asian swing in October includes events in South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan with a final stop in Japan on the first weekend in November and an event in Mexico the following week.
The season-ending event will be the inaugural Titleholders, a 1.5 million-dollar tournament to replace the LPGA Tour Championship that features a field of three players from every official tour event.