GALLOWAY, N.J. - Excuse the pun, but this is major – a pioneering evolution of a championship that means so much to this Tour and its membership.
Thursday’s announcement that the LPGA, PGA of America and KPMG will be teaming up to create the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, which will continue the tradition of the LPGA Championship, bolsters the championship in every way.
The purse will rise to $3.5 million – one of the highest in women’s golf. Brittany Lincicome, a five-time winner on tour, only had three words when informed of what the purse would be: “Oh my gosh!”
Add that to weekend network coverage on NBC and it was a no brainer amongst the tour’s membership.
“I think it was great. I think that us keeping a fifth major was important, and the fact that our money went up is huge, and the fact that we get more TV time, being somebody that’s always away from home and not having your parents out and your family out to be able to watch you,” said Jessica Korda. “The fact that we’re not only going to be on Golf Channel but we’re also going to be on NBC is very, very neat. I’m very excited. I’m very pleased with the news.”
A rookie back in 2009, Anna Nordqvist has watched the Tour experience its share of ups and downs. This latest resurgence and announcements like the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, therefore, are even sweeter.
“I didn’t have my full card and it was really tough to get into tournament,” Nordqvist said referencing her rookie year. “You kind of had to work your way up. Then, once you did, it seemed like you were playing everything.
“Now we’re fortunate to have more money in the tournaments we play, we have another major and we have a lot of great tournaments in Asia so you have the opportunity to pick and choose. It’s unfortunate for some sponsors, but I think the Tour is as healthy as it has ever been.”
That was the vision all along: build the schedule and the purses would follow. Now the next phase of the process comes in. With a schedule closing in on capacity and purses rising every year, that fosters an environment that can only grow the women’s game even more.
“It’s what all of us players were hoping for was going to start happening,” said Suzann Pettersen, the No. 5 player in the Rolex Rankings. “With a solid schedule already in place, you can kind of start to work on purses, playing different and better golf courses, and it’s fantastic to have a partner like KPMG as a part of the LPGA.”
That’s what’s so huge about this tournament – it pushes the envelope in every area. One of the largest purses in the world’s largest media market. Primetime TV and the chance to expose the women’s game to the casual sports fan. A major championship golf venue rotation that people can identify with and brings its own credibility.
“I think the total package that comes with it is going to help grow the schedule of the LPGA because it’s going to keep pushing the other tournaments to get to the same level and you have to get the competitive edge going among the different tournaments,” Pettersen said.
Added Lydia Ko: “That’s what it’s all about, getting more fans and people to support the LPGA Tour.”
The opportunity to play the world-class venues the men’s tour plays is something the women have fought for, and they’ll get that with Westchester Country Club, which hosted the PGA Tour from 1966 – 2007. In addition, it adds another major governing body - the PGA of America - to a championship in women’s golf, which should only serve to highlight and promote the game while adding long-term stability to the championship.
“[The PGA of America] is just going to improve it even more and make it even better,” Nordqvist said. “KPMG, I have a lot of respect for them, and I think it’s going to be one of our top venues [of the season].”
Part of the championship will also include a women’s leadership summit that looks to develop, advance and empower women on and off the golf course by bringing together top women leaders in business, politics, sports and society to network, learn and give back. The partnership is a perfect tie-in for KPMG.
“KPMG is huge with golf right now, and obviously, we thank them so much for bringing this new event to us,” Lincicome said. “I think it’s going to be fantastic.”
Naturally, though, innovative changes like this often coincide with nostalgia and tough goodbyes. This is no different. It’s not easy leaving a place that’s given you so much over the last 38 years.
“Rochester’s been very good to me. It’s been great for the LPGA,” Pettersen said. “They’ve been very supportive, and we’ve had fantastic crowds. It’s definitely sad to leave, but it’s also a new chapter for the LPGA to get to the next level.”
And there’s little doubt, everything about the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is next level.
Topics: KPMG Women's PGA Championship