LPGA Tour to feature 25 tournaments
The LPGA Tour will play 13 times in the United States as part of a 25-tournament schedule it released Thursday, including a new event in Arizona where the players will forgo paychecks to recognize the LPGA founders.
The LPGA plays more times in Mexico (twice) than Florida (once), and its 12 trips outside the country includes seven tournament in Asia. The season begins Feb. 17 with the Honda LPGA Thailand, and concludes Nov. 20 by resurrecting the Titleholders name in Orlando, Fla.
One new event offers a unique twist.
To honor its founding members, the first domestic tournament March 18-20 at Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix will be called the LPGA Founders Cup. Instead of getting paid, the prize money will go to the LPGA Foundation that runs the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program. The money and other points the players would have earned will still be applied to the money list, world ranking and award races.
''The heart and soul of the LPGA is embodied by its gifted and engaged players, who to this day still embrace the same primary responsibility established by the LPGA's founders - to leave the tour better than how they found it,'' Commissioner Michael Whan said.
The tournament will have a title sponsor - RR Donnelley, which has a marketing partnership with the tour.
The Titleholders once was considered a major championship. It first was played at Augusta Country Club, and the winner was awarded a green jacket. It last was held in 1999 at LPGA International at the tour's headquarters, won by Karrie Webb.
It will conclude the season at Grand Cypress in Orlando, where the LPGA Tour Championship was played last year. Instead of 120 players, however, the 75-player field will be for the top three finishers (not already eligible) at each of the 25 tournaments.