Futures Tour Releases 2005 Schedule

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Futures TourLAKELAND, Fla. -- The Futures Golf Tour is celebrating its 25th season this year in a milestone that marks the growth of the Florida-based women's professional tour. The Tour has emerged as the 'official developmental tour of the LPGA' and as a key step in 'graduating' players to the LPGA Tour.
 
Released today, the 2005 tournament schedule will feature 18 tournaments in 13 states. The Tour will launch its season in Florida in early March and wrap up the competitive calendar in late August at the traditional culminating stop in York, Pa.
 
'For the last 25 years, we have provided the best women golfers from around the world with a consistent and reliable tournament schedule that tests their endurance, demands their best performance and prepares them to take their next step into the LPGA,' said Zayra F. Calderon, chief executive officer of the Futures Golf Tour.
 
'Since 1999, we have recognized the best five players at the end of the season by providing them with automatic entry into the LPGA,' added Calderon. 'With more than 240 Futures Tour alumnae moving on to the LPGA Tour, our tournaments have, over the years, showcased the current stars of the LPGA, as well as the next generation of stars. We take great pride in our 2005 schedule and in our quarter-century of consistently providing a challenging tournament schedule that tests the best and creates opportunity for future talent.'
 
Key highlights of the 2005 schedule include:
- Addition of three new tournaments in McAllen, Texas, Lawrence, Kan., and Kankakee, Ill.
 
- A record 12 of 18 tournaments offer purses of $70,000 or higher, with the season-concluding YWCA Futures Classic maintaining the Tour's highest purse at $75,000.
 
- Four tournaments increased their purse size by up to $10,000 from last year. This year Tour members will compete for more than $1.23 million for an average purse size of more than $68,610.
 
The Tour will once again kick off the 2005 season in Lakeland, Fla., home of the Futures Golf Tour. The Lakeland Futures Golf Classic will be contested March 11-13, at Cleveland Heights Golf Course, the Tour's home course and one of three sites used for the 2005 Futures Tour Qualifying Tournament.
 
Fourteen host communities from the 2004 schedule will return in 2005, including the longest-running Futures Tour event, the 21st annual Michelob ULTRA Futures Charity Golf Classic in Decatur, Ill., and the grand finale YWCA Futures Classic in York, Pa., now in its 19th year. The top five money winners on the Futures Tour Money List will once again earn exempt LPGA Tour cards at the annual card presentation in York -- considered the traditional, season-culminating highlight.
 
Joining the schedule for its first season and kicking off the 'Southwest Swing' will be the Jalapeno Futures Golf Classic in McAllen, Texas -- an event certain to draw golf fans from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border. To be held at Palm View Municipal Golf Course April 22-24, the event will benefit the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The 'Jalapeno' will lead into the IOS Futures Golf Classic in El Paso, Texas, set for April 29-May 1. This event is the Tour's only tournament held on a military base, at the U.S. Army's Ft. Bliss. Hong Mei Yang of Si Chuan, China, who became the first Chinese golfer to win a professional tournament in the United States, will return to El Paso with hopes of defending her title.
 
The Tour will change venues and host communities May 6-8, when it travels to Lawrence, Kan., for the inaugural Lawrence Futures Golf Classic. The Kansas stop has been held in Wichita for the last four years, but will move to EagleBend Golf Course in Lawrence this season.
 
The Tour added an additional stop in the Chicago area for its 'Midwest Swing.' Joining the Futures Tour schedule for its inaugural year will be the Kankakee Futures Golf Classic at Kankakee Elks Country Club. Set for June 3-5, the event will fall between mainstay tournaments in Indiana -- the Lake County Futures Golf Classic (May 26-28) -- and Ohio, at the Lima Memorial Hospital Futures Classic (June 10-12).
 
'We are delighted to have added new tournaments in McAllen, Texas, Lawrence, Kan., and Kankakee, Ill.,' said Calderon. 'We are confident these new events will enhance the 18 weeks of some of the world's most exciting and competitive women's professional golf.'
 
Four tournaments raised prize purses for 2005. Purses rose by $5,000 in Lima, as well as at the Bank of Ann Arbor Futures Golf Classic in Michigan and at the M&T Bank Loretto Futures Golf Classic in Syracuse, N.Y. Players will now compete for $70,000 at the Lima Memorial Hospital Futures Classic, while the purse improves to $65,000 in Ann Arbor and Syracuse. The Michelob ULTRA Futures Charity Golf Classic in Decatur, Ill., improves by $10,000 to a purse of $70,000 for 2005.
 
'Our tournaments reflect great partnerships with our host communities and tournament organizers,' added Calderon. 'Together, we create opportunity for the players to develop their games and move on to the LPGA, but as importantly, we are also enhancing each community's calendar of events and creating fund-raising platforms for designated local charities.'
 
The Futures Golf Tour, 'the official developmental tour of the LPGA,' has become the largest international developmental tour and the second largest women's golf tour in the world. Since 1989, Futures Tour events have raised more than $3.2 million for charitable organizations. Throughout its 25-year history, membership has increased from approximately 150 North American players to more than 300 players from 27 different nations. The Tour now conducts 18 tournaments in 13 states.
 
The top five players on the 2004 Futures Tour Money List received automatic exemptions for the 2005 LPGA Tour. There are more than 240 Futures Tour alumnae who are members or past members of the LPGA Tour and through 2004, they have won a total of 283 LPGA titles, including 30 major championships. The Futures Tour is committed to developing the skills and dreams of women golfers, establishing role models for youth and creating the LPGA stars of tomorrow. For more information, please visit Futurestour.com.