bContestants Named for Next Ladies-Only Big Break Series on The Golf Channelb

By Golf Channel Public RelationsNovember 7, 2005, 5:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 7, 2005) ' A new cast of some of the best, undiscovered female golfers will compete on the next season of The Big Break, The Golf Channels popular reality series, which has become a golf-television phenomenon and attracted a new audience for the 24-hour golf channel.
 
The world-renowned surf and tropical beauty of Oahus North Shore will provide the setting for The Big Break V: Hawaii, premiering Feb. 7, where 11 ladies will vie for a chance to revitalize their golfing careers and be awarded the opportunity to play big-time professional golf against the worlds best on the LPGA Tour.
 
A new twist with The Big Breaks second ladies-only series will be that ' in the first episode ' 11 golfers arriving in Hawaii will find out that they all have to play their way onto the show, as one will be sent home before having a chance to unpack her bags.
 
The candidates will include:
 
Jeanne Cho, 23, Orlando, Fla.
Although of South Korean heritage, Cho was born and raised in France and speaks four languages. She emigrated to the United States at age 13 to pursue golf and is a product of the David Leadbetter Golf Academies and the University of Florida golf program, where she graduated, cum laude, with a 4.0 grade point average in Quantitative Sciences. Currently competing on the FUTURES Tour, Cho will be among the 144 hopefuls who will be competing at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament beginning Nov. 30.
 
Nicolle DiSanto, 27 Los Angeles, Calif.
A qualifier in the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship at 295 yards, DiSanto claims to hit her 7-wood ' and even her 3-iron ' longer than most women hit their drivers. A fairly late-bloomer in competitive golf, she played college golf for the last two years and was captain of her golf team at the College of the Canyons in Valencia, Calif. Currently, she teaches kids and models part time when not playing golf, herself.
 
Divina Delasin, 24, San Francisco, Calif.
Having delayed her dreams of playing professional golf to help support family finances and the fledgling career of her sister, Dorothy (who currently plays on the LPGA Tour), Delasin dropped out of high school and, at one time, held three jobs. This self-professed work-aholic eventually returned to school and college golf to chase her dream, but several failed attempts at the LPGA Qualifying Tournament had her back in the work force again. Currently, she is in the PGA program and works as an assistant golf professional and as a coach for the First Tee of San Francisco.
 
Jo D. Duncan, 39, St. Louis, Mo.
The oldest of The Big Break V contestants, Duncan nurtured her golf talents ' not at the local country club, but at the local 9-hole course where people played in cut-off jeans and tank tops. She earned a four-year scholarship to play golf for Missouri State University (then called Southwest Missouri State University) and has competed on the FUTURES Tour and in several LPGA Tour events. Currently, Duncan is a teaching professional and is a member of the Long Drivers of America, having competed for three years in the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships.
 
Julie Wells, 25, Portland, Ore.
As a high school golfer in Eugene, Ore., Wells earned recognition as both the states Athlete of the Year and Golfer of the Year. She left Oregon to play college golf for the University of Idaho, where ' during her junior season ' her team won the Big West Conference title and she was named Player of the Year. Wells turned pro a month before graduation to prepare for the FUTURES Tour and twice entered the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, without success. Currently, she works at the Oregon Golf Club, where she also practices tirelessly on her game.
 
Dana Lacey, 23, North Beach, Australia
After attaining success in her native country as an amateur ' having won the Australia Junior Championships, two victories on the Australian Tour, and being named to both the Australian Spirit Cup team and the Queen Sirikit Cup ' Lacey decided to head to the United States, turn professional and further test her skills on the FUTURES Tour. In 2005 ' her second year on tour ' she finished 23rd on the money list and has set a goal to finish in the top-5 in 2006.
 
Kim Lewellen, 34, Wake Forest, N.C.
Having grown up in Raleigh, N.C., Lewellen is a Carolina girl at heart, but has experienced an entire world of golf. A mother of two and the wife of an Episcopal minister, she played golf for the University of North Carolina (where she was a Division I First Team All-American), competed on the Ladies European Tour and the FUTURES Tour, coached the mens and womens golf teams at The Citadel, and served as a club teaching professional.
 
Becky Lucidi, 25, Poway, Calif.
Having just completed her first year on the FUTURES Tour, Lucidis golfing credentials include some heavy hardware, including the 2002 U.S. Womens Amateur Championship title and the 2003 NCAA national championship while at the University of Southern California. She also won the Mexican Amateur five months removed from winning the U.S. title.
 
Ashley Prange, 24, Noblesville, Ind.
In her first year on the FUTURES Tour in 2005, Prange finished 46th on the money list and made 15 of 18 cuts, with two top 10s. Coming from a golfing family ' her father and three of her uncles are teaching professionals ' Prange was a semi-finalist at the 2003 Womens Western Amateur Championship. She played golf for the University of North Carolina, where she was named First Team All-American during her senior year. She will be among the 144 hopefuls who will be competing at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament beginning Nov. 30.
 
Kristina Tucker, 25, Stockholm, Sweden
Tucker came to the United States in 1999 to attend Duke University and further her career in golf. Having played against the best Swedish amateurs ' winning the Swedish Girls Championship in consecutive years ' and earning a place on the Swedish National Team (2001 European Champions), she was eager to test herself against the best in the U.S. and pursue any opportunities that might lead the way to the LPGA Tour. She won three collegiate tournaments while attending Duke and, after graduation, returned to the Telia Tour in Sweden, where her play over the years included one victory and three, top-5 finishes. 2005 is her second year on the FUTURES Tour, and she has advanced to compete at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament beginning Nov. 30. She now resides in Pageland, S.C.
 
Katie Ruhe, 24, Wesley Chapel, Fla.
A native of Montpelier, Ohio, Ruhe was an AJGA All-American, as well as an AJGA Compac Scholastic All-American selection in 1999. She was a two-time Conference USA 2nd Team selection while playing golf at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where she currently resides and works part time at the TPC of Tampa Bay. She joined the FUTURES Tour in 2004 and improved her scoring average by four strokes in 2005.
 
The candidates were selected from more than 4,000 hopeful golfers who applied via the networks Web site, www.thegolfchannel.com. Auditions for those that met qualifications were held across the country where the ladies not only had to impress the producers with their character and personality, but had to demonstrate their golf skills, on command, in front of Golf Channel cameras.
 
The Big Break show concept pits highly skilled golfers against each other in a variety of challenges that test their physical skills and mental toughness. One golfer is eliminated from the series each week, with the last golfer standing awarded his/her Big Break, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in select professional tour events with some of the best golfers in the world.
 
Reprising its partnership role for the ladies version will be Anheuser-Busch Inc. and its Michelob ULTRA brand. Other major partners include Bridgestone Golf, Golfsmith, 7-Eleven and Chrysler Corp.
 
The first Big Break series featuring ladies only, The Big Break III: Ladies Only, was hugely popular for The Golf Channel and became a major hit. The Big Break III winner, Danielle Amiee, garnered national attention during the two LPGA Tour stops to which she earned exemptions by winning the show.
 
The two championship golf courses of Turtle Bay Resort will serve as the arena for The Big Break V: Hawaii challenges. The Arnold Palmer Course, designed by golfs living legend and co-founder of The Golf Channel, is the site of the Champions Tours Turtle Bay Championship, while the George Fazio course has hosted the LPGA Tours SBS Open at Turtle Bay. The Fazio course also was the site of the first Senior Skins game, which featured Palmer, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Sam Sneed and Gary Player.
 
For more information, contact The Golf Channel Public Relations Department, 407/345-4653
 
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NBC Sports' Coverage of LPGA Tour in 2017 Most-Viewed Season Ever for NBC Sports

By Golf Channel Public RelationsDecember 13, 2017, 8:45 pm

NBC Sports’ LPGA Tour Coverage Ties 2013 for Most-Watched Year Since 2011

NBC and Golf Channel Boast Top-6 Most-Watched Women’s Golf Telecasts in 2017

Beginning with the dramatic playoff finish at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic in January and concluding with Lexi Thompson winning the $1 million Race to the CME Globe, nearly 22 million viewers tuned in to LPGA Tour coverage across Golf Channel and NBC in 2017. This makes 2017 the most-viewed LPGA Tour season across NBC Sports since Golf Channel joined the NBC Sports Group in 2011. Additionally, 2017 tied 2013 as the LPGA Tour’s most-watched year across NBC Sports since 2011. Coverage drew an average of 221,000 viewers per telecast in 2017 (+24% vs. 2016), according to data released by The Nielsen Company.

NBC SPORTS GROUP CLAIMS TOP-6 MOST-WATCHED WOMEN’S GOLF TELECASTS IN ‘17

For the first time ever in televised women’s golf, Sunday’s final round of the RICOH Women’s British Open (Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, 1.1 million viewers) delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast of the year. NBC’s Saturday (Day 2) coverage of the Solheim Cup in August placed second with 968,000 viewers, followed by Sunday’s Solheim Cup coverage on NBC with 946,000 viewers. Golf Channel’s live coverage of Sunday’s final day of the Solheim Cup drew 795,000 viewers, the most-watched women’s golf event on cable in eight years.

Rank

Network

Event

Day

Avg. Viewers P2+

1

NBC

RICOH WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

Sunday

1,100,526

2

NBC

SOLHEIM CUP

Saturday

968,202

3

NBC

SOLHEIM CUP

Sunday

946,387

4

NBC

KPMG WOMEN'S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Sunday

839,983

5

NBC

RICOH WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

Saturday

808,578

6

GOLF

SOLHEIM CUP

Sunday

795,000

ADDITIONAL VIEWERSHIP MILESTONES FOR WOMEN’S GOLF IN 2017

  • ANA Inspiration - The LPGA’s first major championship delivered thefifth most-watched LPGA final round in Golf Channel history with 551,000 viewers when So Yeon Ryu defeated Lexi Thompson in a playoff following Thompson being assessed a four-stroke penalty earlier in the final round.
  • KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – The LPGA’s second major was seen by 6.6 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the largest audience for the event on record (2006-17). Sunday’s final round on NBC, which saw Danielle Kang win her first LPGA Tour event over defending champion Brooke Henderson, also was the most-watched telecast in the event’s history with 840,000 average viewers.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – NBC’s Sunday coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast in 2017 (.78 U.S. HH rating, 1.1 million viewers). In total, 7 million unique viewers tuned in to coverage across Golf Channel and NBC, the most-watched RICOH Women’s British Open in the past 10 years and the most-watched among the five women’s major championships in 2017.
  • Solheim Cup – Seen by a total audience of 7.3 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the Solheim Cup posted the largest total audience for women’s golf since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open on ESPN/NBC. Golf Channel’s live coverage of the final day drew 795,000 average viewers, becoming the most-watched women’s golf telecast on cable in the last eight years, since the final day of the 2009 Solheim Cup.

GOLF CHANNEL DIGITAL POSTS RECORD STREAMING CONSUMPTION

Golf Channel Digital posted record numbers of LPGA streaming consumption with 11.9 million live minutes streamed across LPGA Tour telecasts in 2017 (+563% vs. 2016).

  • Solheim Cup – Three-day coverage of the Solheim Cup saw 6.3 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports’ Digital platforms, trailing only the 2016 Rio Olympics (9 million) as the most-ever for a women’s golf event airing on Golf Channel / NBC.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – Four-day coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open saw 2 million minutes streamed, +773% vs. 2016.

NBC Sports Group combined to air 31 LPGA Tour events in 2017 and a total of 420 hours of coverage, the most in LPGA history. The exclusive cable home to the LPGA Tour, Golf Channel aired coverage of four of five women’s major championships in 2017, with three majors also airing on NBC: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship. The biennial Solheim Cup also returned to network television for the first time in 15 years with weekend coverage on NBC.

Source: Nielsen 2017 Live+Same Day DVR vs. prior available data. Persons 2+ avg 000’s and/or Persons 2+ reach w/six-minute qualifier. Digital Metrics from Adobe Reports & Analytics. Details available.

Hensby takes full responsibility for violation

By Rex HoggardDecember 13, 2017, 5:28 pm

The PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Program manual covers 48 pages of details, from the pressing to the mundane, but for Mark Hensby the key section of the policy could be found on Page 5.

“The collector may allow you to delay reporting to the testing area for unavoidable obligations; however, you will be monitored from the time of notification until completion of the sample collection process,” the policy reads. “A failure to report to the testing area by the required time is the same as a doping violation under the program.”

Hensby, a 46-year-old former Tour winner from Australia, didn’t read that section, or any other part of the manual. In fact, he said he hasn’t received the circuit’s anti-doping manual in years. Not that he uses that as an excuse.

To be clear, Hensby doesn’t blame his anti-doping plight on anyone else.

“At the end of the day it’s my responsibility. I take full responsibility,” he told GolfChannel.com.

Like Doug Barron, Scott Stallings and even Vijay Singh before him, Hensby ran afoul of the Tour’s anti-doping policy because, essentially, of a clerical error. There were no failed tests, no in-depth investigations, no seedy entourages who sent Hensby down a dark road of performance-enhancing drug use.

Just a simple misunderstanding combined with bad timing.

Hensby, who last played a full season on Tour in 2003, had just completed the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship when he was approached by a member of the Tour’s anti-doping testing staff. He was angry about his play and had just used the restroom on the 17th hole and, he admits, was in no mood to wait around to take the urine test.

“Once I said, ‘Can I take it in the morning,’ [the Tour’s anti-doping official] said, ‘We can’t hold you here,’” Hensby recalled. “I just left.”

Not one but two officials called Hensby that night to ask why he’d declined to take the test, and he said he was even advised to return to the Country Club of Jackson (Miss.) to take the test, which is curious because the policy doesn’t allow for such gaps between notification of a test and the actual testing.

According to the policy, a player is considered in violation of the program if he leaves the presence of the doping control officers without providing the required sample.

A Tour official declined to comment on the matter citing the circuit’s policy not to comment on doping violations beyond the initial disclosure.

A week later, Hensby was informed he was in violation of the Tour’s policy and although he submitted a letter to the commissioner explaining the reasons for his failure to take the test he was told he would be suspended from playing in any Tour-sanctioned events (including events on the Web.com Tour) for a year.

“I understand now what the consequences are, but you know I’ve been banned for a performance-enhancing drug violation, and I don’t take performance-enhancing drugs,” Hensby said.

Hensby isn’t challenging his suspension nor did he have any interest in criticizing the Tour’s policy, instead his message two days after the circuit announced the suspension was focused on his fellow Tour members.

“I think the players need to read that manual really, really well. There are things I wasn’t aware of and I think other players weren’t aware of either,” he said. “You have to read the manual.”

It was a similar message Stallings offered following his 90-day suspension in 2015 after he turned himself in for using DHEA, an anabolic agent that is the precursor to testosterone production and banned by the Tour.

“This whole thing was a unique situation that could have been dealt with differently, but I made a mistake and I owned up to it,” Stallings said at the time.

Barron’s 2009 suspension, which was for a year, also could have been avoided after he tested positive for supplemental testosterone and a beta-blocker, both of which were prescribed by a doctor for what were by many accounts legitimate health issues.

And Singh’s case, well that chapter is still pending in the New York Supreme Court, but the essential element of the Fijian’s violation was based on his admitted use of deer-antler spray, which contained a compound called IGF-1. Although IGF-1 is a banned substance, the World Anti-Doping Agency has ruled that the use of deer-antler spray is not a violation if an athlete doesn’t fail a drug test. Singh never failed a test.

The Tour’s anti-doping history is littered with cases that could have been avoided, cases that should have been avoided. Despite the circuit’s best educational efforts, it’s been these relatively innocent violations that have defined the program.

In retrospect, Hensby knows he should have taken the test. He said he had nothing to hide, but anger got the best of him.

“To be honest, it would have been hard, the way I was feeling that day, I know I’m a hothead at times, but I would have probably stayed [had he known the consequences],” he admitted. “You’ve got to understand that if you have too much water you can’t get a test either and then you have to stay even longer.”

Hensby said before his run in with the anti-doping small print he wasn’t sure what his professional future would be, but his suspension has given him perspective and a unique motivation.

“I was talking to my wife last night, I have a little boy, it’s been a long month,” said Hensby after dropping his son, Caden, off at school. “I think I have a little more drive now and when I come back. I wasn’t going to play anymore, but when I do come back I am going to be motivated.”

He’s also going to be informed when it comes to the Tour’s anti-doping policy, and he hopes his follow professionals take a similar interest.

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Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million