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Player reax positive to 'next level' of Women's PGA

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The new KPMG Women’s PGA Championship potentially puts the best female players in the world on more of the best venues in the world.

It also puts the best women in more network TV windows beginning in 2015 with more prize money at stake.

“It’s something we needed,” Rolex world No. 2 Stacy Lewis said. “It's something we needed for a long time. It's that announcement that puts us up on the next level.”

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will feature a $3.5 million purse next year, up from the LPGA Championship’s $2.25 million this year. The weekend TV coverage will be broadcast on NBC with the weekday rounds on Golf Channel.

“One of the things I'm excited about is the network TV on the weekend,” Lewis said. “The Golf Channel is great, we get our golf fans there. But until we get outside of golf, and we get fans that don't watch golf, get them into our sport, and they see us, they see what great athletes we are, that's when we go to the next level. So that's what this tournament is going to do.”

Lewis won the Ricoh Women’s British Open at St. Andrews last year. She will be playing the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2 next month. She is relishing the chance to play even more historic venues with the new KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

“Playing the best golf courses in the country, that's something we've been fighting for a long time,” said Lewis, who has an endorsement deal with KPMG. “Everything with this tournament, it’s what we have been looking for. So I'm excited that it's coming.”

The Women’s PGA Championship will make its debut June 11-14 of next year at Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y. The PGA Championship has been staged at some of the game’s great, historic venues. It has been played at Pebble Beach, Oakmont, Winged Foot, Riviera, Baltusrol, Medinah and Oak Hill. It has also been played on some of the game’s most acclaimed new venues. It has been played at Whistling Straits, Kiawah Island and Valhalla.

PGA CEO Pete Bevacqua was asked if his organization will take the women to some of the same historic venues it has taken the men.

“I would tell you that it's critical from our perspective, certainly from the LPGA and LPGA players' perspective, KPMG's perspective, and quite honestly NBC and the Golf Channel, as well, who is a critical part of this formula, to really take this event to the very best golf courses in the country,” Bevacqua said. “And we think we are starting that off in the perfect spot for this event at Westchester Country Club, one of the great golf courses in the country, certainly one of the great golf courses in the Northeast.”

Count Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam among the supporters of the PGA stepping up to run a women’s championship.

“The majors in our sport are so ‘big,’” Sorenstam said in a statement. “They present big challenges, big moments and can have a big impact on the careers of players and the history of the sport. This new partnership between the LPGA, PGA of America and KPMG is `big’ in every way. The women on Tour are being given a special gift in the form of huge prize money, greater exposure and a bigger career impact. And just as exciting for me is KPMG’s focus on making sure this major also creates `big moments’ for women outside of the game as well, especially in business. I am very happy for everyone involved.”