One month before its season begins, the USLPGA Tour announced a 28-tournament schedule that includes five majors, three additional tournaments and prize money closing in on US$50 million.
Tour commissioner Mike Whan delivered a balanced schedule on Tuesday that circles the globe. It starts next month in Australia. More than half the tournaments are in North America. The Asian swing late in the year includes a new tournament in China, and the season ends in November with the Titleholders and US$700,000 to the winner, the biggest payoff in women’s golf.
Whan also announced that CME, the title sponsor of the season-ending Titleholders, has extended its deal through 2016.
“Our tournaments are about customers a lot more than they are about the players and television,” Whan said. “If you do the right thing with the customer, you’ll end up being with the customer a long time.”
Two years ago, the tour had only 23 tournaments.
Whan is close to what he considers an ideal schedule of no more than 32 tournaments — enough to give his players ample starts and still small enough that the tournaments can expect to get a majority of the best players.
The USLPGA Tour previously announced a new tournament in the Bahamas on May 23 to May 26 and a return to Texas, its first official event in the Lone Star State since the US Women’s Open at Colonial in 1991.
The North Texas Shootout is to be held from April 25 to April 28, three weeks before the USPGA Tour arrives in town for its Texas swing.
The third new tournament is in China — the Reignwood Pine Valley LPGA Classic in the first week in October, which launches an Asian swing that is to take players to Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
“The performance, approachability and growing popularity of our players is the No. 1 factor in the LPGA’s continued momentum, which has led to expanding coverage on Golf Channel, the growing slate of playing opportunities and our ever-increasing fan base,” Whan said.
The Evian will become the fifth major, held from Sept. 12 to Sept. 15 in France with a US$3.25 million purse.
That will be the last of a strong lineup of majors that includes the US Women’s Open going to Seabonack on Long Island and the Women’s British Open returning to the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland.