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LPGA releases 25-tournament 2011 schedule

LPGA Tour _newThe LPGA will play 25 official money events in 2011, one more than in 2010, according to the schedule released Thursday.

There’s a catch, however.

Though there will be one more “official money” tournament, the new RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup is planned as a special charity event with a unique purse concept. Players won’t actually collect any money from the purse. Instead, all “money winnings” will be passed along to the LPGA Foundation to help fund the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program.

The Founders Cup is designed to honor the pioneering players who started the LPGA. It’s also designed to benefit the LPGA Foundation. Any “money” won by LPGA players will count as “official” in player stats. They’ll also collect Rolex world rankings and Hall of Fame points.

The LPGA Founders Cup is scheduled March 18-20 in Phoenix as the opening event of the U.S. start to the tour schedule. It’s planned as a 54-hole event with a 132-player field at the Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort.

“I always tell players on tour you have to leave golf better than you found it, and now we’ve created a tournament to do just that,” Whan told Golf Channel when releasing the new schedule. “I went to the players at Springfield (Ill.) at the State Farm Classic and said 'I have a challenge for you. I always tell you we’ve got to leave the game better than we found it. How about one week a year we really play like founders and play for the love of the game? We televise it on the Golf Channel, we have a title sponsor, and everything counts. Rolex rankings count. There’s a mock purse. Every award we have at the end of the season is going on. The only thing different is no one’s getting paid. The only ones getting paid are young girls through the LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf program.''

Whan said listening to Louise Suggs and other LPGA founders inspired the idea.

“In 2011, it will double the size of this foundation,' Whan said. 'In ’12 and ’13, it will triple and quadruple. Now we have a tournament that does more just celebrate the best players in the world. It creates the future for the next generation.”

If you’re counting official money events that pay LPGA players, it’s a 24-tournament schedule, same as last season.

The 2011 schedule will feature 13 events in the United States, counting the LPGA Founders Cup. That’s one less domestic event than the LPGA played in 2010. As expected, the CVS/pharmacy is gone from the schedule, as is the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, which is taking a one-year’s hiatus. Also, as expected, there are two new international events, the LPGA Imperial Springs event in China and the LPGA Taiwan Championship.

Notably, the schedule also features a new ending, the inaugural Titleholders on Nov. 17-20, replacing the LPGA Tour Championship. The site of the new event was not on the schedule but Whan told Golf Channel that it will be at Grand Cypress in Orlando. The tournament will feature a field filled through a season-long qualifying format. Three qualifiers from every LPGA event will advance to the Titleholders.

Feb. 17-20: Honda LPGA Thailand $1,500,000 Chonburi, Thailand, Siam Country Club, Pattaya Old Course

Feb. 24-27
: HSBC Women’s Champions $1,400,000 Singapore, Tanah Merah Country Club, Garden Course

March 18-20: RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup Phoenix, Ariz., Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa

March 24-27: Kia Classic $1,700,000 City of Industry, Calif., Pacific Palms Resort

March 31-April 3: Kraft Nabisco Championship $2,000,000 Rancho Mirage, Calif., Mission Hills Country Club, Dinah Shore Tournament Course

April 21-24: Tres Marias Championship $1,300,000 Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico, Tres Marias Golf Club

April 28-May 1: Avnet LPGA Classic $1,300,000 Mobile, Ala., RTJ Golf Trail, Magnolia Grove, The Crossings

May 19-22: Sybase Match Play Championship $1,500,000 Gladstone, N.J., Hamilton Farm Golf Club

May 28-29: HSBC Brazil Cup $720,000* Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Itanhanga Golf Club

June 3-5: ShopRite LPGA Classic $1,500,000 Galloway, N.J., A Dolce Resort, Bay Course

June 9-12: LPGA State Farm Classic $1,700,000 Springfield, Ill., Panther Creek Country Club

June 23-26: Wegmans LPGA Championship $2,500,000 Pittsford, N.Y., Locust Hill Country Club

July 7-10: U.S. Women’s Open $3,250,000 Colorado Springs, Colo., The Broadmoor, East Course

July 21-24: Evian Masters Presented by Société Générale $3,250,000 Evian-les-Bains, France, Evian Masters Golf Club

July 28-31: Ricoh Women’s British Open $2,500,000 Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland Carnoustie Golf Links

Aug. 4-7: Imperial Springs LPGA $2,000,000 Guangzhou, Guangdong, China Imperial Springs Golf Club

Aug. 19-21: Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola $1,500,000 North Plains, Ore., Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Ghost Creek Golf Course

Aug. 25-28: CN Canadian Women’s Open $2,250,000 Mirabel, Quebec, Canada Hillsdale Golf and Country Club

Sept. 9-11: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G $2,000,000 Rogers, Ark., Pinnacle Country Club

Sept. 15-18: Navistar LPGA Classic $1,300,000 Prattville, Ala., RTJ Golf Trail, Capitol Hill, The Senator

Sept. 23-25: The Solheim Cup Dunsany, Ireland Killeen Castle

Oct. 6-9: LPGA Hana Bank Championship $1,800,000 Incheon, South Korea SKY 72 Golf Club, Ocean Course

Oct. 14-16: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia $1,800,000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club

Oct. 20-23: LPGA Taiwan Championship $2,000,000 Yang Mei, Taoyuan, Taiwan Sunrise Golf & Country Club

Nov. 4-6: Mizuno Classic $1,200,000 Shima-shi, Mie, Japan Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club

Nov. 10-13: Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex and Corona Light $1,100,000 Guadalajara, Mexico Guadalajara Country Club

Nov. 17-20: Titleholders $1,500,000 Orlando, Fla., Grand Cypress Golf Club

Dec. 9:   Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge $1,000,000* Henderson, Nev., Rio Secco Golf Club

*Unofficial money