Symetra Tour prize money richest in history

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NAPLES, Fla. – The Symetra Tour announced its 2016 preliminary schedule Friday that features 23 events and the most total prize money the tour has offered in its 36-year history.

The tour’s push to increase prize money was bolstered earlier this year with Symetra announcing a purse subsidy program as part of its contract extension through 2021. Symetra raised its purses for the Symetra Classic and Symetra Tour Championship and pledged helping other events with a matching program.

The Symetra Tour will play for $3,105,000 next year with the possibility more events will be added. That’s up about $300,000 from this year. The tour is the LPGA’s developmental circuit with the top 10 money winners at year’s end earning promotions to the LPGA.

“Three years ago, we had one tournament with a purse of $150,000 and that was the biggest tournament of the year,” said Mike Nichols, chief business officer of the Symetra Tour. “Now we have 10 tournaments that are $150,000 or more. We definitely have got a way to go, but the whole goal for us in doing this is to try to continue to attract the top players.”

Annie Park was the Symetra Tour’s leading money winner this year with $68,673 in earnings.

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said the tour’s seeking to raise purses so that developing players “don’t have to finish in the top three to pay for their expenses for the year. We will be the first to commit that we're not there yet, but we sure like the curve that we're on.”

Since Symetra signed on as the tour’s title sponsor in 2012, the tour has grown from 16 events and $1.7 million in total prize money.