LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan no longer measures success by making it to the end of a year disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic: A schedule for next year he released on Friday suggests that the LPGA Tour came out stronger than ever.
The Tour has added two tournaments and did not lose any of the ones that had to cancel because of the pandemic shutdown, including the Taiwan Swinging Skirts event.
Whan left little wiggle room for more interruptions with a schedule that is to start on Jan. 21 in Florida and end 10 months later with consecutive events in Florida.
The first seven tournaments are all in the US, with the Asia swing moving to the spring, including the US$2.2 million Taiwan event from Oct. 28 to 31 at the Miramar course in New Taipei City’s Linkou District.
The 34 official events offer a record US$76.45 million in prize money. The largest total purse is US$5.5 million for the US Women’s Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco in the first week in June, while the largest individual payoff is the CME Group Tour Championship, which typically awards US$1.5 million to the winner.
“We are recapturing the momentum that we had at the beginning of 2020 and we are excited about our future, which will include news of new title sponsors and several significant purse increases,” Whan said.
The LPGA had plenty of momentum a year ago when it announced a 34-tournament schedule. That was before the pandemic shut down the Tour just four tournaments into the season.
It did not resume until late July, with two additional events using the “Drive On” theme to fill some gaps.
The opening event is the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions from Jan. 21 to 24 in Orlando.
A month later, instead of heading to Australia and Asia, the tour is to have consecutive weeks in Florida before moving west for the Kia Classic north of San Diego, the ANA Inspiration as its first major in the California desert. After a week break during the Masters, the LPGA resumes with events in Hawaii and Los Angeles before going to Asia for three weeks.
Whan hopes that moving the Asia events back three months will be enough time for travel restrictions to be eased.
The US Women’s Open goes to Olympic Club for the first time, while the Women’s PGA Championship is to be a Atlanta Athletic Club and the Women’s British Open at Carnoustie.
The Founders Cup is leaving Arizona for the first time in its 10-year history, to Mountain Ridge Country Club in northern New Jersey.
The LPGA has added a match play event and an event that will be co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour.
Asia has three consecutive events in May and three more in October. Europe also has a stretch of LPGA golf for a month, with the two majors (Evian and the Women’s British Open) along with the Ladies Scottish Open and the new tournament with the LET.
The schedule includes the Solheim Cup on Labor Day weekend, to be held at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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