The LPGA has unveiled a 2013 schedule that features 28 tournaments including three new events, the debut of a fifth major and prize money closing in on $50-million.
The $1.8 million Reignwood Pine Valley LPGA Classic near Beijing will be the LPGA’s first trip to the capital of China. The Jack Niclaus designed course is one of the most prestigious venues in all of China that has hosted many professional events including the 2005 Johnnie Walker Classic. The tournament will feature a field of 81-players from the LPGA and Chinese LPGA Tours.
The LPGA Tour previously announced a new tournament in The Bahamas on the U.S. Memorial Day long weekend in May and a return to Texas, its first official event in the Lone Star State since Meg Mallon won the U.S. Women’s Open at Colonial in 1991. The North Texas LPGA Shootout will be in April, three weeks before the PGA Tour arrives in town for its Texas swing.
“We are excited to add the Bahamas, North Texas and Beijing as LPGA Tour stops and we expect to have one more tournament to announce in the very near future,” said commissioner Mike Whan, who has seen eight new events added to the calendar since he took over.
The LPGA Tour took a beating during the economic downturn and a previous administration that alienated sponsors. 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, still small enough that the tournaments can expect to get a majority of the best players.
“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 lot time.”
The 2013 LPGA schedule also marks the debut of the Tours fifth major at The Evian in France with a $3.25-million purse. That will be the last of a strong lineup of majors that includes the U.S. Women’s Open going to Seabonack on Long Island, and the Women’s British Open returning to the Old Course at St. Andrews.
The season begins February 14 with the Women’s Australian Open at Royal Canberra, followed by stops in Thailand and Singapore before the North American schedule starts March 14 with the LPGA Founders Cup in Arizona.
Once again there will be two Canadian stops in 2013. The second-annual Manulife Financial LPGA Classic at Grey Silo Golf Club in Waterloo, Ontario moves to the week of July 8 while the CN Canadian Women’s Open will be played August 22-25 at Royal Mayfair Golf Club in Edmonton, Alberta.
The biggest tournament on the schedule is the Solheim Cup, with Mallon as the captain as she tries to keep the Americans’ record perfect on home soil. It will be played August 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club.
Along with a full schedule, the LPGA Tour will get 300 hours of television coverage, the most in its history.
Files from the Associated Press were used in this report