The LPGA’s new Sybase Match Play Championship will gather its 64-player field in a completely different manner than the PGA Tour does for its Accenture Match Play Championship.
The Sybase field won’t be based on world rankings in any manner. The new event is scheduled May 20-23 at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, N.J.
The top 48 players off last year’s final LPGA money list have already locked up spots in Sybase’s field. That means Meaghan Francella is in at No. 48. Mika Miyazato missed taking that last spot off the ‘09 money list by $7,478.
Notably, Inbee Park (No. 50), Juli Inkster (No. 51), Nicole Castrale (No. 52), Stacy Prammanasudh (No. 55) and Laura Davies (No. 87) are among those who are not assured spots, but they can still qualify.
The Bell Micro LPGA Classic the week before Sybase will serve as a qualifier for the match-play event. After 36 holes, the top 10 players not otherwise qualified will earn Sybase berths.
Also, at the conclusion of Bell Micro, the top four players on the LPGA's 2010 money list not otherwise qualified will earn match-play spots. The final two spots into the field will be awarded as sponsor exemptions.
The field’s qualifying format leaves room for rookies and veterans alike to play their way into the event this season. The fact that the world rankings are not used protects LPGA members.
“There’s always room for match play,” said Chris Higgs, co-managing director of Octagon Golf, which manages the event. “Other than the odd Solheim Cup, the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup, professional golf doesn’t see much match play. Young players starting off as amateurs all know match play, but they become professionals and don’t see it.”