34-event schedule will feature record total official purse and television hours
NAPLES, Florida (November 20, 2015) – The LPGA today announced its 2016 schedule which continues the trend of positive growth in several areas including number of events, total purse money and number of events on network television. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan addressed the assembled media at the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida, and unveiled a schedule that will feature 34 events, an official money increase of $4 million and a record number of hours in television coverage.
Players will compete for more than $63 million in total official prize money next season which is the most in LPGA history. The Tour will be featured in a record 410+ hours of television coverage and will be spotlighted on network TV on the weekend at six events, thanks to weekend coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open and Sunday of the UL International Crown on NBC.
“Our team’s focus has exclusively shifted from securing new events to enhancing the ones we have on the schedule,” said Whan. “Increasing purses, number of weeks on network TV and creating more exposure for our events and players are the short-term goals we have set.”
Back For MoreWith a focus on strengthening existing partnerships, the Tour renewed 11 title sponsors this year including Kia Motors who announced an extension of the Kia Classic through 2018 earlier this week and HSBC who announced a three-year extension and purse increase of the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore two weeks ago at the HSBC Golf Business Forum in Shanghai. “Now that we’ve hit our target number of events on our schedule, we are now concentrating on ensuring our current partners are happy with being a part of the LPGA family and look forward to working with them to grow in their individual markets,” said Whan.
Strong Start As Purses Increase
The 2016 season will kick off in paradise once again at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic as it did two years ago in 2014. The event, which will increase its purse to $1.4 million, will also mark the start of the third year of the season-long Race to the CME Globe. The Coates Golf Championship will follow as the first domestic event on the schedule in Ocala, Florida. Two weeks later the Tour heads down under to Australia and the early Asia swing. All three events on that portion of the schedule – the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open, which will take place in Adelaide, the Honda LPGA Thailand and the HSBC Women’s Champions - have increased their purses for 2016.
After preaching “elevation” at the end of 2014 as a goal for the Tour’s majors, the LPGA clearly raised its game in 2015 by securing partnerships with All Nippon Airways and the PGA of America. With successful debuts behind, the Tour now focuses on raising purses and continuing a trend of big-name venues.
The major season will kick off once again in the desert at the ANA Inspiration March 31-April 3 on the iconic Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club. All Nippon Airways, in its second year as title sponsor, will increase the total purse to $2.6 million.
The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will head to the Pacific Northwest to Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington, where they will host the second-annual KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, which was an overwhelming success in its first year. Players will compete June 9-12 for the second-largest purse on Tour - $3.5 million – in an event that focuses on elevating and empowering women both on and off the golf course.
The U.S. Women’s Open will head to CordeValle in San Martin, California and be conducted July 7-10. It will mark the first time the championship will be held in the Bay Area and will feature the largest purse on Tour - $4.5 million. Woburn Golf Club outside London will host the RICOH Women’s British Open for the 10th time. The $3 million event will take place July 28-31. The final major of the LPGA season, The Evian Championship, will be contested for the fourth time at the picturesque Evian Golf Resort where Lydia Ko defends her record-setting title and players will compete September 15-18 for a $3.25 million purse.
Busy Summer Schedule
A condensed summer stretch, which features 11 consecutive events on the calendar, kicks off in May and runs through the end of July to accommodate for the Summer Olympic Games in mid-August. Included is the Tour’s newest addition to the schedule -the LPGA Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which will be staged May 26-29 at Travis Pointe Country Club with a full field of 144 players playing for a $1.3 million purse. During this 11 tournament run, players will compete for nearly $22 million in official purse money. The second playing of the UL International Crown will take place July 21-24 at a Chicago-based venue to be announced soon.
Spain is the defending champion but not a lock to compete in the second staging of the event. Currently ranked ninth, the Spaniards have some work to do to crack the top 8. Countries will qualify at the end of the ANA Inspiration and players will be finalized based on Official World Rankings at the end of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Golf Back in The Olympic Games
Many LPGA players will have their first chance to compete on the largest stage in sports next summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games. Golf will make its return to the Olympics for the first time since 1904 and will have the opportunity to be showcased to its largest and most diverse audience.
The 60-player field will be determined by the official world rankings. The top-15 world-ranked players will be eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players from a given country. Beyond the top-15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15. The field will be determined off the rankings as of July 11, 2016.
A total of 33 LPGA tournaments will be televised globally in 2016. In four years’ time, the LPGA’s television hours have nearly doubled, meaning more exposure than ever for the Tour’s stars. In addition to the record number of hours, the LPGA will see its number of network TV events increase to six next season with the addition of the RICOH Women’s British Open weekend and Sunday coverage of the UL International Crown - both being showcased on NBC.
“We know how important it is to develop more consistent network television coverage to help reach the more casual sports fan,” said Whan. “We are excited to once again see increased hours of coverage on our home on Golf Channel and our goal with more network opportunities is to bring back more fans to watch us on a weekly basis.”
2016 LPGA Tour Season By the Numbers:
|# of Events||34||32||25|
|# of Official Events||33||31||23|
|Official Money Purses||63.1||59.1||40.5|
|Events at $2 million||23||21||15|
|Events In North America||23||21||15|
|Events Outside of North America||11||11||8|
|4 Day/3 Day||31/3||29/3||17/6|
|# of Globally Televised Events||33||32||23|
|Hours of TV Coverage||410+||390||220|