2013 Schedule Brings New Tournaments in New Markets, Launch of a Fifth Major, and Most Television Coverage in Tour History
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DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA, January 15, 2013 – Following another year of double-digit growth in worldwide fan base, social media following, television ratings and corporate partnerships, the LPGA today announced a 2013 tournament schedule featuring 28 tournaments, nearly $49 million in total prize money, and more than 300 hours of tournament television coverage on Golf Channel and other networks, the most in the Tour’s history.
The 2013 LPGA schedule features three new tournaments including the $1.3 million North Texas LPGA Shootout, to be played April 22 to 28 at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas; the $1.3 million Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, to be played May 20-26 at the Ocean Club Golf Course at Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas; and the $1.8 million Reignwood Pine Valley LPGA Classic in Beijing, China, which kicks off the Tour’s Fall Asian swing the first week of October at Reignwood Pine Valley Golf Club. Each of the new tournaments are four-day, 72 hole, stroke-play events, aired on the LPGA’s international television partner networks, including Golf Channel. Every North American tournament and 27 of the 28 Tour’s stops on the 2013 schedule will be televised worldwide.
In conjunction with the China Golf Association and China LPGA, the LPGA is thrilled to add the $1.8 million Reignwood Pine Valley LPGA Classic, near Beijing, China. This will be the LPGA’s first trip to the capital of China, which will be greatly anticipated coming on the heels of Shanshan Feng’s major championship victory at last year’s Wegmans LPGA Championship, where she became the first Chinese golfer, male or female, to win a major championship. Reignwood Pine Valley Golf Club is one of the most prestigious venues in all of China, with a Jack Nicklaus designed course that has hosted many professional events including the 2005 Johnnie Walker Classic. The tournament will feature a $1.8 million purse and 81-player field, consisting of LPGA players and CLPGA players.
“The performance, approachability and growing popularity of our players is the No. 1 factor in the LPGA’s continued momentum, which has led to expanding coverage on Golf Channel, the growing slate of playing opportunities and our ever-increasing fan base,” said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan. “We are excited to add the Bahamas, North Texas and Beijing as LPGA Tour stops and we expect to have one more tournament to announce in the very near future.”
In addition to new playing opportunities, the 2013 LPGA schedule also features the addition of the fifth major at The Evian, a return to the Old Course at St. Andrews, a highly anticipated trip to Sebonack Golf Club for the U.S. Women’s Open, the 13th edition of The Solheim Cup and a the Tour’s largest first-place check – now $700,000 – at the season-ending CME Group Titleholders.
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2013 Tour Schedule Celebrates Historic Moments, Pillar Events
The LPGA will have more opportunities to showcase its players on the world stage this season:
|In August, the LPGA returns to golf’s birthplace for the RICOH Women’s British Open on the Old Course at St. Andrews where, for the second time in history, a woman will stand atop the Swilcan Burn Bridge holding a major championship trophy. Ochoa won the LPGA’s first tournament and her first-ever major championship on the Old Course in 2007.|
|A month later, following a multi-million dollar golf course re-design, all eyes will be on picturesque Evian Mountain and Lake Geneva in France for the debut of The Evian as the Tour’s fifth major championship.|
“Global exposure and exciting worldwide fan opportunities will be the real theme for 2013,” Whan said. “Kraft Nabisco’s jump in Poppie’s Pond, the mega-galleries at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, Southampton’s picturesque Sebonack for the U.S. Women’s Open, a journey back to golf’s birthplace with Ricoh Women’s British Open, and of course, introducing our global fans to the “uniqueness” that can only be The Evian. Five incredible events, and unforgettable locations, that will be the pillars to a special year for the world’s best female golfers.”
While the five major championships serve as the pillars of the LPGA schedule, the 2013 Solheim Cup will again be must-see-TV when the U.S. and Europe face off in “The Rematch” at Colorado Golf Club. The 13th edition of The Solheim Cup – the biennial, international match play tournament pitting the U.S. versus Europe – will feature the U.S. Team looking to regain the Cup and protect their untarnished record on home soil following a 15-13 loss to the Europeans in Ireland in 2011.
The last playing of The Solheim Cup in the U.S. at Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago in 2009 featured the highest viewed LPGA round (Sunday) in Golf Channel history. In 2011, Golf Channel aired 31 live hours of Solheim Cup coverage. The U.S. leads the overall series, 8-4, but Europe’s dramatic Sunday afternoon comeback in 2011 set the stage for the most anticipated Solheim Cup in tournament history this summer.
The LPGA today also announced that CME Group has signed a multi-year contract extension to sponsor the season-culminating CME Group Titleholders tournament through 2016.
Beginning this year, the tournament purse climbs to $2 million with the largest first-place check on Tour at $700,000. CME Group Titleholders will continue as the year-end celebration of the LPGA’s title and marketing partners and the host of the Rolex Awards Reception. Last year’s tournament was won by Rolex Rankings No. 3 Na Yeon Choi, who also won the U.S. Women’s Open and topped the LPGA Official Money List.
“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the LPGA through the extension of CME Group Titleholders, which is quickly becoming one of the most exciting tournaments in golf,” said Terry Duffy, Executive Chairman and President of CME Group. “The increased $700,000 first-place check, the largest in women’s golf, will create a dramatic race to the finish for the tour’s top stars. We are proud of the strong, productive relationship we have developed with the LPGA over the years and are pleased to continue aligning our best-in-class brand with theirs, particularly as the organization further expands its reach and prominence across the globe.”
Player Impact Fuels Sponsor Interest
A four-win season in 2012 led top-ranked American Stacy Lewis to Rolex Player of the Year honors, driving interest amongst American fans and current sponsors. Pure Silk, the Columbus, Ohio-based shaving cream company that sponsors nine LPGA players, and northwest Ohio’s Marathon Petroleum now join the LPGA as new title partners in 2013.
As Yani Tseng begins her third year in the No. 1 spot on the Rolex Rankings and looks to break Lorena Ochoa’s mark of 158 consecutive weeks in the position, her impact as the face of the LPGA is undeniable.
This fall, Tseng will play in her native Taiwan for a third-consecutive season at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. The Tour will also welcomes Taiwanese company Acer, who joins Atlantic City’s ShopRite LPGA Classic as the presenting sponsor.
In 2012, Shanshan Feng made history as the first-ever Chinese-born player, male or female, to win a major at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Driven by the excitement following Feng’s win and the significant growth of the game in China, the LPGA will partner with the China Golf Association and China LPGA to create the Reignwood Pine Valley LPGA Classic in October. The tournament – the Tour’s first in Beijing, the capital of China – looks to build on Feng’s success and grow awareness for golf in a country with eyes on the 2016 Olympic Games.
“We are very excited to bring the best LPGA players in the world to Beijing, the capital city of China,” said Dr. Chanchai, Chairman of Reignwood Group and the Asian Golf Course Owners Association (AGCOA). “The much-anticipated inaugural Pine Valley LPGA China Classic will strive to contribute to the development of ladies’ golf in China and lay the foundation for 2016 Olympic preparations. I very much look forward to seeing the world’s best female golfers gathering together in Pine Valley, Beijing this October, taking in the full beauty of the golf course and the city at its best season of autumn while entertaining the fans with a wonderful golf tournament.”
The Tour’s biggest stars will play in front of their native fans in 2013, nowhere more obvious than Korea where 2012 U.S Women’s Open winner Na Yeon Choi, Vare Trophy winner Inbee Park and Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year So Yeon Ryu return to the KEB · Hana Bank Championship. Dozens of Korean players will be lauded by nearly 20,000 fans daily at a tournament that raises its purse in 2013 to $1.9 million. The ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open (Karrie Webb, Katherine Hull), the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic and CN Canadian Women’s Open (Lorie Kane, Alena Sharp), LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf in Hawaii (Michelle Wie) and Mizuno Classic (Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato, Momoko Ueda) will be joined by the North Texas LPGA Shootout outside Dallas as notable homecomings for LPGA stars in 2013. Five-time winner and four-time U.S. Solheim Cup Team member Angela Stanford (Saginaw) and 2012 Rolex First-Time Winner Brittany Lang (McKinney) will play in front of their hometown fans when the Tour returns to suburban Dallas for the first time since 1991.
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A Closer Look at the 2013 LPGA Tour Season
Kicking it off “Down Under”: For the second-consecutive season, the LPGA begins its season with a three-week stretch in the Asia Pacific region. The ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, played in 2013 at Royal Canberra, again serves as the season-opener. The Honda LPGA Thailand – where Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng will attempt to defend the first of her three 2012 victories – and the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore again follow Australia. The 2013 HSBC Women’s Champions, which announced a multi-year contract extension in October, will move to the Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club.
Domestic Debut: The RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona, March 11-17, serves as the North American debut of the LPGA once again in 2013. The tournament – which has raised $1 million in charitable donations to LPGA-USGA Girls Golf in the past two years – will once again highlight the past, present and future of the LPGA. It will be followed by the Kia Classic, which in 2013 moves to Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, Calif., March 18-24. Kia, the Official Automotive Partner of the LPGA, signed a multi-year extension as title partner of the Kia Classic in December. Following a one-week break, Golf’s First Major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, takes center stage in Rancho Mirage, Calif. In 2012, the Kraft Nabisco Championship was the highest-rated LPGA tournament on Golf Channel.
Back, to back… to back: A three-week stretch in late April features Hawaii’s LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf, April 17-20, returning to Ko Olina Golf Club on Oahu for the $1.7 million purse and unique Saturday finish. The previously mentioned $1.3 million North Texas LPGA Shootout outside Dallas follows Hawaii a full-field of 144 players playing 72 holes of stroke play over four days of competition. The tournament marks the Tour’s first stop in North Texas since the 1991 U.S. Women’s Open, won by 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup Team Captain Meg Mallon at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. The three-week stretch concludes at the Kingsmill Championship which returns to its traditional spring date, May 2-5. Last September’s tournament featured a nine-hole, two-day playoff where Jiyai Shin outlasted Paula Creamer.
Lewis defends two: A four-week stretch beginning in mid-May includes two attempts at title defenses for Rolex Player of the Year Stacy Lewis. The Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, which returns to the Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail for the 15th consecutive season, will move from April to May in 2013 to begin the late spring run. The Tour then travels to the Caribbean for the inaugural Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic before returning to the “Shore Tradition” at the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer. Lewis captured her second victory in Atlantic City in 2012 and claimed the No. 3 spot on the Rolex Rankings, making her the top-ranked American – a spot she continues to hold. The month-long stretch concludes with the Tour’s annual visit to Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y. – a venue that has hosted the LPGA for 37 years and now will host its fourth as a major – for the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Rochester is “Golf’s Titletown” in 2013, playing host to both the Wegmans LPGA Championship in June and the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in August.
Show me the money! The $2 million Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G, June 21-23, again precedes the U.S. Women’s Open, which boasts a purse of $3.25 million, creating the richest two-week combination of tournaments on the 2013 schedule with $5.25 million available.
Hometown events: The second-annual Manulife Financial LPGA Classic at Grey Silo Golf Club in Waterloo, Ontario moves to the week of July 8. Last year, the inaugural event welcomed 66,000 spectators. The next week, the Tour travels to Toledo for the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning & O-I which celebrates its 28th year on the LPGA. Longtime tournament host Jamie Farr passed the baton this month to Marathon Petroleum, a deal that secures live coverage on Golf Channel following the men’s Open Championship.
Giving Back: The $2 million CN Canadian Women’s Open, won in 2012 by 15-year-old amateur Lydia Ko, will be played August 22-25 at Royal Mayfair Golf Club in Edmonton, Alberta. Last year’s tournament raised $1.8 million for the British Columbia Children’s Hospital through the CN Miracle Match Program. The Portland Classic Presented by Safeway, held Aug. 20-Sept. 1, has donated at least $1 million to local charities each of the last seven years.
Asia-bound: The Tour returns to Asia in October for the brand-new $1.8 million Reignwood Pine Valley LPGA Classic, Oct. 3-6, at Reignwood Pine Valley Golf Club in Beijing, China, before returning to the $1.9 million Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, which signed a multi-year extension in 2012. They are followed by two attempted title defenses by Suzann Pettersen at the KEB · Hana Bank Championship in Korea, which raises its purse in 2013 to $1.9 million, and the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, with a purse of $2 million. The fall Asian swing concludes with the 41st annual Mizuno Classic in Japan where Stacy Lewis will attempt to defend her 2012 Mizuno win.
Viva Lorena! An elite field of 36 golfers returns to Guadalajara Country Club in Mexico for the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in November. American Cristie Kerr will defend her 15th career title. The Tour will conclude its 2013 season in Naples with the CME Group Titleholders which now boasts the largest winner’s check on Tour at $700,000.