The Tour season will begin in mid-March in Florida and end in mid-August in York, Pa. Fourteen events from the 2002 schedule will be returning for the upcoming season including the longest running FUTURES Tour tournament, the 19th annual Michelob Light FUTURES Charity Golf Classic in Decatur, Ill., and the 17th annual season-ending York Newspaper Company FUTURES Golf Classic in York, Pa.
'The overwhelming support from our local tournament organizers, the communities we play in, and our charities has allowed the Tour to offer a consistent and solid schedule to our players,' stated Zayra F. Calderon, president and chief executive officer of the FUTURES Tour. 'In spite of a downturn in the economy, our tournaments have managed to increase purses and continue to provide our talented players with the opportunity to compete in challenging venues across the countries.'
Specifically, the Isleta Casino & Resort FUTURES Golf Classic held at Isleta Eagle Golf Course in Albuquerque, N.M., increased its purse $25,000 to $95,000 up from $70,000 in its inaugural year last year. This is the largest purse increase for the 2003 season and the second largest purse in Tour history, $5,000 less than the 1998 SunTrust FUTURES Classic in Muscle Shoals, Ala.
Jill Trujillio, tournament organizer and head golf professional at Isleta Eagle Golf Course said, 'We had such a wonderful experience with the FUTURES Tour in 2002. The cooperation of the staff and the appreciation of the players definitely impressed the committee and sponsors of the tournament.
'An increase in the purse for 2003 and 2004 is a direct result of the success of our event and the confidence we have in the FUTURES Tour. We look forward to the next two years of Tour excitement, raising money for the charity, and promoting the game of golf.'
Due to the large number of FUTURES Tour players who continue to qualify each year for the U.S. Womens Open Championship, the FUTURES Tour will not stage a tournament the same weekend as this prestigious event, July 3-6. A total of 17 FUTURES Tour players competed in last years LPGA major in Hutchinson, Kan.
Calderon stated, 'Seventeen of our players last year rightfully earned a spot in the 150-player field and as each year passes this number continues to grow. The success of our players is reflected in the large number of FUTURES Tour alumnae on the LPGA numbering 180 plus representing 244 LPGA victories including 27 major championships.'
Key Highlights for the 2003 season:
'We are extremely pleased with our schedule and anticipate announcing additional tournaments in the upcoming weeks,' Calderon said. 'We expect the season to be filled with an extremely talented roster from players spanning the globe and we are sure that the competition for the top-three spots will be fierce and thrilling for everyone.'