This is the LPGA’s time.
For years there has been a growing sense of anticipation within the LPGA. It’s a feeling that has grown with each flip of the calendar, with the hope that “this” would be the year - the one when the world would not just take notice but recognize and reward the undeniable talent that is the LPGA.
That year has come.
Mollie Marcoux Samaan, just months into her tenure as the ninth commissioner of the LPGA, felt the energy as soon as she took the helm in mid-2021. “This is our time,” the commissioner said as the Tour unveiled its schedule for 2022. It’s the perfect tagline and forward marketing spin for the Tour, whose campaign over the last three years has been focused on its ability to “Drive On” throughout its more than 70-year history. All that driving has paid off. The time is now.
This week marks the start of a record-breaking season on the LPGA Tour, beginning with the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. The event returns with an intimate, winners-only field which is composed of champions from the past two seasons on the LPGA Tour. Celebrities join the field again this year, featuring athletes Mardy Fish and Larry Fitzgerald, LPGA Tour Hall of Fame member Annika Sorenstam, and “The Bachelor’s” Ben Higgins and Wells Adams. The event will be staged for the first time at Lake Nona Country Club in Orlando, Florida where Jessica Korda returns as defending champion.
The Tournament of Champions kicks off a three-week swing through Florida, which will entice the world’s best players to begin their season in January with a solid lineup of events. From Orlando, the Tour heads south to Boca Raton for the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio, where Nelly Korda will defend her title. Next up is the fourth installment of the LPGA Drive On Championship, which will be held for the first time at Crown Colony Golf and Country Club in Ft. Myers.
The Tour’s opening stretch is a sign of the ever-improving LPGA schedule, which previously featured a single stop in the Sunshine State. The lone January event made an early trip on the calendar to the United States a tough decision for international players who would return to Asia for the Tour’s second stretch of the season as soon as February. Now, the schedule begins with a solid run of events that make sense for players from both a traveling and logistics standpoint, made possible by the commitment of sponsors, venues and a commissioner who is invested in making life as simple as possible for players.
For 2022, ten events have announced purse increases as sponsors are pushing the Tour to new heights. For the first time, players will compete for a staggering $10 million at the U.S. Women’s Open with the addition of a new presenting sponsor, ProMedica, who made it possible for the USGA to double the purse from the previous year. The CME Group Tour Championship will continue to provide the biggest winner’s check in the game when they award an increased $2 million to the winner of the season-ending event.
More than seven decades ago the founders of the LPGA could have only dreamed of this moment in time - when the world would awake to the potential of its Tour. The years of work by the team at the LPGA, the talents showcased by the world's best golfers and the Tour’s position within a society, which over the last two years has growingly come to appreciate women's role within it, has all come together in its own perfect time.
It’s an exciting time for the LPGA. And that time is now.