NAPLES, Fla. – The LPGA will co-sanction the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open with the Ladies European Tour next year, LPGA commissioner Mike Whan announced Friday.
The event will be played July 27-30 at Dundonald Links in North Ayrshire, the week before the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
The 156-player field will play for a $1.5 million purse. Whan said half the field will be made up of LET players and half LPGA players.
“Aberdeen Asset Management wanted to create on the women's side something very similar to what they created on the men's side, which is a big global event that will be televised around the world that bring two tours together, and to do that right before we play the Ricoh Women’s British Open,” Whan said. “So it's a great one-two punch for us.”
This will become the fourth event the LPGA and LET will sanction together. They also co-sanction the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship.
The new event’s announcement heightened speculation the LPGA may be interested in acquiring the LET, or forging a partnership where the LET becomes a developmental tour feeding the LPGA, but Whan downplayed comments he made last week about a potential LET arrangement.
“I'm not the head of the LET,” Whan said. “I wasn't trying to be the head of the LET. I am certainly not going to acquire the LET. That's not on my schedule, or anybody else's schedule. I just simply answered the fact that it seems like it would be a good idea if over the course of time we could figure out a way, over a full season, just like a full season on the Symetra Tour, people could actually graduate to the LPGA.
“My vision is not to acquire the LET. We've got a good partnership.”
The LPGA isn’t expected to release its full schedule for two more weeks, but the ’17 schedule will feature at least four new events, the Scottish Ladies Open, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open, the Indy Women in Tech Championship at Brickyard Crossing in Indiana and the Oneida LPGA Classic in Green Bay, Wis. The tour will be losing events in San Francisco (Swinging Skirts Classic), Ocala, Fla., (Coates Golf Championship) and Alabama (the Yokohama Tire Classic).
The ’17 schedule should feature 34 to 35 events (with the Solheim Cup), with total purses around $66 million and with the U.S. Women’s Open purse expected to increase from $4.5 million to $5 million as the top paying women’s event. This year’s schedule featured 34 events (with the UL International Crown) with purses totaling $64 million. Under Whan, the tour’s schedule has grown robustly, from 23 events in 2011 with purses totaling $40 million that year.
Whan’s plans to implement a new LPGA Qualifying Series likely won’t be implemented until 2018, Whan said. The series will replace the current Q-School format but still allow players to make the leap from the amateur ranks to the LPGA through the series. The new qualifying system would likely allow 17-year-olds to play the Symetra Tour as professionals.