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Symetra Tour releases 2012 schedule

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The Symetra Tour, the LPGA’s developmental tour, released its 2012 schedule Thursday. The 16-event docket matches the schedule from last season, with a total purse of nearly $1.75 million – a reduction of $10,000 from last season.

The small decrease in total purse, however, is more than offset by the tour’s year-end prize. For the first time, the Symetra Tour will offer fully exempt LPGA cards to the top 10 on the season-ending money list. The status will ensure the graduates qualify for every full-field LPGA event in 2013.

“By offering 10 exempt spots, we are solidifying the Symetra Tour as the proving ground for the LPGA and creating what amounts to a year-long battle to see which 10 players will earn equal playing status on next year’s LPGA Tour,” LPGA commissioner Michael Whan said in a release.

Since 2008, the developmental tour had given fully exempt status in category No. 9 to the top five players on the money list, while the second five had significantly worse status in category No. 17. 2010 money-list winner Cindy Lacrosse had 16 starts in 2011, while No. 6 Angela Oh scored just 10.