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LPGA releases schedule, adds five events

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LPGA commissioner Michael Whan announced an LPGA schedule Tuesday that features four new events in North America and a new international stop.

The season-opening ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in Melbourne, the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario, and the return of the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Owens Corning are joined by the LPGA Lotte Championship announced last week and the brand new Kingsmill Championship, marking the LPGA’s return to the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va.

“While many fans and media may focus on our new tournament additions, I think it’s just as important to understand the core elements that have created this upward momentum for the LPGA,” Whan said. “The commitment and support of our existing tournament sponsors, the dramatic improvement in our television production and viewership, and the significant growth in marketing partners is really the foundation for our schedule growth.”

Whan also revealed that the LPGA renewed eight of the nine tournament contracts that ended in 2011 and 10-of-11 marketing partnerships that also required new contracts.

Kingsmill is the big announcement in this news. The LPGA held an event at the resort from 2003-2009 and hosted winners like Se Ri Pak, Cristie Kerr, Karrie Webb, Suzann Pettersen and Annika Sorenstam.

The total purse increased from $40.4 million in 2011 to $47 million this year. All weekend telecasts of the tour’s North American events will be broadcast live on Golf Channel.