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Purse increases, new formats highlight 2019 LPGA schedule

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More, more, more.

That’s the theme behind the 2019 LPGA schedule released Thursday, but tour commissioner Mike Whan sees something else in the growth.

“There’s less unpredictability,” Whan said. “I think that’s the cool thing. The schedule isn’t a big surprise. Most of our events are back again. We’re just growing our purses.”

The 33 official events on next year’s schedule are one more than this year and will feature a tour-record $70.55 million in total prize money, surpassing the 2018 record haul by $5.2 million.

It adds up to more stability.

Notably, there will be more diverse formats, with three new formats on the schedule.

“We’ve grown to the point where we are able to do more of these fun formats,” Whan said.

The year will begin with one such event – the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions (Jan. 17-20), featuring LPGA winners from the last two years playing alongside celebrities and entertainers in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

The tour’s second event will feature yet another new format, with the LPGA and the men’s European Tour co-sanctioning the Australian Golf event in Barwon Heads, Australia, on Feb. 7-10. It’s the only tournament where men and women compete on the same course (13th Beach Golf Links) for the same prize money ($1.1 million), with the men and women playing their own competitions with alternating tee times.

The Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational is the other new format, a two-woman team event to be played July 17-20 in Midland, Mich.

The CME Group Tour Championship’s giant purse increase got a lot of attention last month, with CME Group announcing it was doubling prize money next year, to $5 million, with a women’s-record $1.5 million winner’s check. The schedule shows at least five other purse increases:

• The ANA Inspiration, $3 million, up $200,000 from 2018

• The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, $3.85 million, up $200,000

• The Evian Championship, $4.1 million, up $250,000

• The Mediheal Championship, $1.8 million, up $300,000

• The Marathon Classic, $1,750,000, up $150,000

The U.S. Women’s Open paid out $5 million in prize money last year, but the USGA typically announces its purse increases closer to the event’s start. The AIG Women’s British Open hasn’t announced yet whether there will be a change from last year’s $3.25 million purse.

The biennial Solheim Cup is back on the schedule, with the Americans meeting the Europeans at Gleneagles in Scotland on Sept. 13-15.

The CME Group Tour Championship will once again serve as the season-ending event (Nov. 21-24), but as previously announced, the Race to the CME Globe has been revamped, so the season-long points race will now only determine the 60 players who qualify for the event and its rich purse.

“One look at our 2018 season shows the breadth of global talent on our tour,” Whan said, “and I have no doubt that 2019 will continue this upward trend.”