Futures Golf Tour Announces 2003 Tournament Schedule

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Futures TourLAKELAND, Fla. -- The FUTURES Golf Tour, the official developmental tour of the LPGA, has released its 2003 tournament schedule. Known as the largest international developmental tour and second largest womens professional golf tour in the world, the FUTURES Tour continues each year to showcase the LPGA stars of tomorrow. The Tour boasts of recent graduates and current LPGA stars such as Grace Park, Career Grand Slam Winner Karrie Webb, and 2002 LPGA Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Beth Bauer.
 
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:
 
  • The average purse for the 2003 season is over $66,000. This number is up an average of $1,500 per event. Since 1984, the average tournament purse has grown from $10,000 to its current average today.
     
  • The Aurora Health Care FUTURES Charity Golf Classic in Sussex, Wis., increased its purse from $60,000 to $70,000 for the 2003 season.
     
  • The 2003 season features the addition of three new title sponsors: Frye Chevrolet, sponsor of the $70,000 Frye Chevrolet Classic in Wichita, Kan., Bank of Ann Arbor, sponsor of $60,000 Bank of Ann Arbor FUTURES Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich., and General Electric, sponsor of the $60,000 GE FUTURES Professional Golf Classic, in Altamont, N.Y.
     
  • This season, FUTURES Tour players can take advantage of the recently modified criteria for the 58th U.S. Womens Open Championship. According to the United States Golf Association (USGA), previous FUTURES Tour winners (2002 season and 2003 winners through May 1), and the top-five money winners from the 2002 FUTURES Tour Money List will bypass the Local Qualifying round, advancing automatically to the Sectional Qualifying round.
     
  • The Southwestern Illinois FUTURES Golf Classic in Waterloo, Ill., a suburb of St. Louis, originally scheduled for May 16-18, 2003, will have its inaugural FUTURES Tour tournament in 2004 at the prestigious Annbriar Golf Course and will follow with tournaments through the 2006 season.
     
  • The FUTURES Tour remains dedicated to creating a fund-raising opportunity for local non-profit organizations. Since 1985, more than $2.65 million has been raised for charities such as Girls, Inc., Chip In For A Cure, and the YWCA of York.
     
    '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.'