Eligiblity Changes at LPGA Tournament of Champions


MOBILE, Ala. -- Organizers of the LPGA Tournament of Champions have decided to extend the event's qualification window by a year, saying the dominance of players like Annika Sorenstam has prevented different players from winning and restocking the pool of eligible participants.
Now players with LPGA victories in 2001, 2002, 2003 and this year are eligible to compete in the $800,000 tournament Nov. 11-14 at Magnolia Grove's Crossings Course. Under the old format, players were eligible from the two previous years and the current year. Active LPGA Hall of Fame members will still be able to participate.
The new criteria of counting wins from three previous years works in conjunction with current LPGA rules on exempt status for winners.
'With the increasing number of multiple tournament winners on the LPGA Tour, we have seen the eligible field list limited in numbers,' said Steve Harrelson, the tournament director and vice president of events for Raycom Sports, which owns and operates the TOC.
'We tossed around a lot of ideas, bounced a lot of things off the wall. These moves allow us to keep the tournament's reputation as a best-of-the-best event,' Harrelson said.
The change allows nine players to be added to this year's field based on wins from 2001.
Combined with the five players who have qualified with victories in 2004, there are now 42 players eligible for the November tournament.
The field has declined each year since the Tournament of Champions moved to Mobile in 1999, from 44 players in the first event down to 29 in November after two players withdrew in the first round.
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