The five exempt LPGA cards will be awarded to the top five money earners on the Futures Tour money list at the conclusion of each Futures Tour season, beginning this year. The Futures Tour is the official developmental tour of the LPGA.
The expansion of exempt tour cards being awarded to Futures Tour players is right in step with our fans first strategy to showcase the very best in womens professional golf, said commissioner Ty M. Votaw. Awarding additional cards to the top performers of the Futures Tour demonstrates the importance the LPGA membership and its board of directors are placing on cultivating future stars to fuel the pipeline of the LPGA.
'In providing more cards, we are rewarding players with the opportunity to compete on the LPGA Tour who have demonstrated outstanding yearlong performances on one of the most demanding developmental tours in the world. The fresh new faces emerging from the Futures Tour represent an exciting and entertaining property for the LPGA and our growing fan base.
As the official developmental tour of the LPGA, Futures Tour players have a direct route to the LPGA Tour. The top five players on the Futures Tour money list at the conclusion of the York Newspaper Company Futures Classic on Aug. 17, who play in a minimum of six Futures Tour events, will automatically receive exempt status on the LPGA Tour for the following season. In addition, players ranked sixth through 10th on the Futures Tour money list will receive direct entry to the LPGAs Final Qualifying Tournament.
Increasing the number of exempt cards from three to five recognizes the caliber of play showcased on the Futures Golf Tour, and it represents another step to assure that the new players entering the LPGA are tested and well-prepared to become the next generation of LPGA stars, said Zayra F. Calderon, president and chief executive officer of the Futures Tour. This recognition affirms the strategic value the LPGA places on its developmental tour and will provide these young yet accomplished players with a solid alternative to enter the LPGA.
Since the Futures Tour was named the LPGAs official developmental tour in 1998, several of todays LPGA stars benefited from the direct route to the LPGA Tour, said Votaw. Fans have the opportunity to watch players like Grace Park, Beth Bauer, Lorena Ochoa, players who excelled on the Futures Tour, earned their LPGA Tour cards and are the up-and-coming rising stars of the LPGA. We look forward to welcoming many more Futures Tour stars in years to come.
The Futures Tour features a schedule of 17 events, conducted in 14 states across the country. This year more than 180 Futures Tour alumni are members of the LPGA Tour, and through 2002, they represent a total of 244 LPGA victories including 26 major championships.
The Futures Tour is headquartered in Lakeland, Fla.