Florida start & finish, Major security, purse growth and
Germany-bound Solheim Cup all on slate for 2015
NAPLES, Florida (November 18, 2014) – Following a dream season that included some very memorable moments on the course and landmark announcements off the course, the LPGA unveiled its 2015 schedule on Tuesday reflecting the continuing trend of momentum. At the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida, LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan and Chief Commercial Officer Jon Podany jointly announced a schedule that will feature 33 official events, a total prize money increase of more than $4 million and a record number of hours in television coverage.
Players will compete for a total of $61.6 million in prize money next season and will be featured in 410+ hours of television coverage, surpassing last year’s record of 380 hours. This season, the Tour had the highest year-to-date viewership average on Golf Channel since 2009.
“I’m excited that our team has achieved our target number of events to fill our schedule over the past few years,” said Whan. “We are focused on elevating and enhancing the playing opportunities for our players, viewing experiences for our fans and corporate involvement for our partners.”
The second year of the season-long Race to the CME Globe will kick off and conclude in the state of Florida with the addition of the season-opening Coates Golf Championship presented by R+L Carriers. The new event will be staged at Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club in Ocala, Florida, January 28-31 with a Saturday finish due Super Bowl Sunday. It will mark the first time since 2001 that the Tour will open its season in the Sunshine State and second-consecutive year the season will start in January.
The Tour’s other main focus has been securing long-term commitments for its major championships. During Tuesday’s press conference, it was announced that All Nippon Airways (ANA) will become the new title partner of the first major of the LPGA season. The newly-named ANA Inspiration will be held March 30-April 5 and will continue to be played at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California through 2019. The ANA Inspiration will increase its purse to $2.5 million and will carry on the history and tradition of the formerly-named Kraft Nabisco Championship including the Dinah Shore Trophy and long-standing tradition of the leap into Poppie’s Pond.
The LPGA had already secured the future of the LPGA Championship last May with the announcement that KPMG and the PGA of America will team up with the LPGA for the newly-named KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. In 2015 it will be held June 8-14 at the Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York outside New York City with the purse increasing to $3.5 million. The championship will have six hours of network coverage on NBC on the weekend in 2015 and will rotate annually among prestigious courses in major metropolitan markets through 2019.
“Another major goal for us was to gain long-term security and to elevate our major championships,” said CCO Jon Podany. “With the new partnerships with ANA, KPMG and the PGA of America, we have made enormous strides in the right direction by enhancing the biggest stages and venues that showcase our stars around the world.”
The U.S. Women’s Open Championship will celebrate its 70th anniversary July 6-12 at Lancaster Country Club which will host its first major championship and the LPGA for the first time. The RICOH Women’s British Open, will return to Turnberry in Ayrshire, Scotland for the second time. The last time the event was held at Turnberry in 2002, Hall of Fame member Karrie Webb won her third Women’s British Open title. The LPGA’s major championship season will conclude for the third-consecutive year in France at The Evian Championship, September 7-13.
The following week, all eyes will turn to Germany for the 14th staging of The Solheim Cup where the Americans will seek revenge after an 18-10 rout in 2013 and their first loss on U.S. soil in the competition’s history. St. Leon-Rot Golf Club outside of Heidelberg will play host to the biennial, international match-play event and will be the site of the first LPGA Tour event held in Germany.
After Europe’s second-consecutive win in 2013 in Colorado, the overall record still stands in the Americans’ favor, 8-5.
In all, the 2015 schedule continues the Tour’s trend of upward momentum. A total of 13 new events have been added in the past four years, strengthening a tournament schedule that reflects a stronger commitment from the Tour’s corporate partners.
“This is an exciting time for the LPGA, its players and corporate partners as well as the fans,” said Whan. “We’re reaching historical highs in so many areas of the Tour and we cannot wait to start another great season in January.”