The 2010 LPGA schedule features 24 tournaments, clearly a whittled version compared with years past, but it’s a global one salvaged with 11th-hour sponsorship saves.
The tour secured its own major, the LPGA Championship, which had been sponsorless, with a new deal with Wegmans. The long-time tour partner stepped up its commitment with the LPGA, substituting the major for its regular tour stop. The LPGA Championship presented by Wegmans will offer a $2.25 million purse and is scheduled for June 24-27 at Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y. However, the deal is only for one year.
International events continue to increase their influence on the schedule, a result of greater overseas demand for the LPGA and a smaller number of total events. Of the 24 tournaments, 11 – nearly half – will be staged outside of the U.S. As recently as this year, LPGA officials have said they prefer international events to account for one-third of the tour’s schedule.
But in a depressed U.S. economy where title sponsors are hard to come by, the LPGA had little choice but to seize global opportunities. Though critics likely will focus on the diminished schedule overall, a case could be made that the tour saved more U.S. events than expected. Of the eight tournaments that had title-sponsorship contracts expiring this year, five renewed their deals. The three exceptions: LPGA Corning Classic, Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill and Sybase Classic are gone.
The LPGA, however, still has work to do. Three events on the calendar – one in China, another in South Korea and the LPGA Tour Championship – have not yet announced their sponsors nor tournament sites.
Some key changes:
• The LPGA Classic presented by J Golf will be played at La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif.
• The Bell Micro Classic returns after a year off and will shift from the fall to the spring.
• After a three-year hiatus, the ShopRite LPGA Classic returns to Atlantic City, N.J.
- The LPGA schedule lists an additional event in Korea, but officials have yet to release a date, sponsor or location.