The LPGA remains on the rebound and in growth mode with Tuesday’s release of the tour’s 2013 schedule.
Three new events trump the loss of two from last year’s schedule with LPGA commissioner Mike Whan hopeful a fourth new event might still be added.
The LPGA will feature 28 official events this season, possibly 29, if that new event in the works comes together in time. That’s up from 27 events last year and 23 in 2011.
“The bottom line is we are continuing the momentum,” Whan said. “It’s the right direction. There is one more event we would like to talk about, but that’s going to take a little time to finalize the details.”
LPGA pros will be playing for at least $8.5 million more this season than they did just two seasons ago with Whan adding six more check-cashing opportunities over what the tour offered in 2011.
Total purses are up to $48.8 million this year.
The new season will once again open at the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open Feb. 14-17 and then swing into Asia for the Honda LPGA Thailand Feb. 21-24 and the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore Feb. 28-March 3. The LPGA will make its domestic start at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix March 14-17 and conclude its season with the CME Group Titleholders in Naples Nov. 21-24.
Some featured items from the 2013 schedule:
• Three new events were added: The North Texas LPGA Shootout (April 25-28), the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic (May 23-26) and the Reignwood Pine Valley LPGA Classic in China (Oct. 3-6).
• The Evian will become the LPGA’s fifth major championship. Formerly the Evian Masters, the event moves to fall on the tour calendar. The LPGA’s final major of the year will be played Sept. 12-15 in France. Typically, the event was played in July.
• The Ricoh Women’s British Open will take LPGA pros to one of golf’s historic sites, the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland (Aug. 1-4). Lorena Ochoa won the event the first time it was played on the Old Course in 2007.
• The Solheim Cup isn’t counted as an official event, but the biennial competition between the United States and Europe is one of the LPGA’s premier events. It will be played Aug. 16-18 at the Colorado Golf Club outside Denver.
• The LPGA lost two events from last year: The Navistar LPGA Classic and the Sybase Match Play Championship. Navistar’s loss wasn’t unexpected, but even LPGA officials believed the Sybase Match Play Championship would be part of the 2013 schedule until late last year. With SAP previously acquiring Sybase, the company informed the LPGA a little more than a month ago that it would no longer sponsor the event.
• The season-ending CME Group Titleholders is increasing its purse to $2 million, up from $1.5 million last year. The winner will take home $700,000, the richest first-place check in women’s golf. CME Group has signed an extension to sponsor the event through 2016.
• The Kingsmill Championship, played in September last year, will move to May 2-5.
• Riddled with two- and three-week gaps between events two seasons ago, the schedule is better configured in 2013, with just one gap of more than a week between any events. There’s a two-week gap between The Evian and the start of the Asian swing in late September.
Feb. 14-17, ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
Feb. 21-24, Honda LPGA Thailand
Feb. 28-March 3, HSBC Women’s Champions
April 4-7, Kraft Nabisco
April 17-20, Lotte Championship
April 25-28, North Texas LPGA Shootout
May 2-5, Kingsmill Championship
May 23-26, Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic
May 31-June 2, ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer
June 21-23, Walmart NW Championship presented by P&G
June 27-30, U.S. Women’s Open
July 18-21, Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning & O-I
Aug. 1-4, Ricoh Women’s British Open
Aug. 16-18, The Solheim Cup
Aug. 22-25, CN Canadian Women’s Open
Aug. 30-Sept. 1, Portland Classic presented by Safeway
Sept. 12-15, The Evian
Oct. 3-6, Reignwood Pine Valley LPGA Classic
Oct. 10-13, Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia
Oct. 17-20, KEB Hana Bank Championship
Oct. 24-27, Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship
Nov. 7-10, Mizuno Classic
Nov. 14-17, Lorena Ochoa Invitational
Nov. 21-24, CME Group Titleholders