All 2017-18 LPGA champions will have their #BagsPacked for the new season-opening event
Celebrity-packed tournament to air on NBC on Saturday and Sunday
The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and Diamond Resorts™ announced today that the 2019 LPGA Tour season will begin with the inaugural Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, to be held from Jan. 17-20, 2019, at Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Resort Orlando in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Winners from the last two LPGA seasons, along with numerous celebrities and fan favorites, will gather in Central Florida to compete for a $1.2 million purse and celebrate the beginning of another season of world-class competition.
This new event also kicks off the LPGA season on network television. The Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions will air on Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday, and then move to NBC on Saturday and Sunday, preceded by an hour-long Golf Channel lead-in.
“We are so excited to join Diamond Resorts, Golf Channel and NBC to deliver a truly spectacular Tournament of Champions,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. “This will be an experience like none other on our Tour, and it will be revered as a great reward for LPGA players who play well enough to make it into the winner’s circle every year!”
The Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions will include LPGA winners from the previous two seasons, with winners from 2017 and 2018 invited to the inaugural event. The field will also include 45 celebrity participants and 10 amateurs, who will be paired with LPGA players for all four tournament days. The LPGA players will compete for a $1.2 million purse, while the celebrities will play for a $500,000 purse.
“We are thrilled to sponsor the prestigious Tournament of Champions and are excited for this opportunity to continue furthering our relationship with the LPGA and their fantastic field of players,” said Mike Flaskey, Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Resorts. “Diamond Resorts is known for delivering incredible vacation experiences and this tournament will be like none other, with unmatched hospitality, a unique playing format, and a week of exciting events and concerts.”
All 2018 LPGA tournament winners will receive a TUMI Voyageur Calais Leather Backpack and an invitation to get their #BagsPacked for the trip to the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. Winners will also receive a week-long stay at any Diamond Resorts-managed property.
So far in 2018, four players have already earned invitations to the 2019 Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions field – Brittany Lincicome (Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, as well as the same event in 2017), Jin Young Ko (ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, along with the 2017 KEB Hana Bank LPGA Championship), Jessica Korda (Honda LPGA Thailand) and Michelle Wie (HSBC Women’s World Championship). They will be joined by the remaining 2018 winners, as well as 2017 champions Shanshan Feng, Brooke Henderson, Ha Na Jang, Eun Hee Ji, Ariya Jutanugarn, Danielle Kang, Cristie Kerr, In-Kyung Kim, Sei Young Kim, Katherine Kirk, Mi Hyang Lee, Mirim Lee, Stacy Lewis, Haru Nomura, Anna Nordqvist, Inbee Park, Sung Hyun Park, So Yeon Ryu, Lexi Thompson and Amy Yang.
In addition to winners from the previous two years, a number of sponsor exemptions will be selected by Diamond Resorts from all LPGA Tour winners. LPGA professionals will play 72 holes of stroke play with no cut, while the amateurs will compete using a Modified Stableford scoring format.
Diamond Resorts has had a close relationship with the LPGA for several years as a sponsor of Brittany Lincicome and by inviting players to compete in the former Diamond Resorts Invitational™. Past celebrity fields have included sports Hall of Famers, All-Stars and superstars from all major sports including Brian Urlacher, Marcus Allen, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine; recent World Series champions Justin Verlander and Brian McCann; and entertainment celebrities Lee Brice, Larry the Cable Guy, Willie Robertson, Chris Harrison and Alfonso Ribeiro.
The tournament site, Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Resort Orlando, is unique to Central Florida for its varying elevation, abundant wildlife and protected wetlands. It was originally built in 1992 and designed by Tom Fazio.
The Tournament of Champions, an elite limited-field event, was previously played at various sites in the southeastern part of the United States from 1994 to 2007. Its most recent venue was Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Magnolia Grove Golf Course in Mobile, Ala.