ShopRite Classic returning to LPGA in 2010

The ShopRite LPGA Classic is back in business.

Tournament organizers, ShopRite and the LPGA announced Monday that the longtime Atlantic City-area fixture will return to the women’s schedule in June after a three-year absence.

The $1.5 million event will be held June 14-20 at the Seaview Resort in Galloway Township outside Atlantic City, coinciding with the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

photo

Ai Miyazato and her caddy, Mick Seabourn, share a laugh during the 2006 ShopRite championship.

Tournament executive director Tim Erensen said the parties signed a series of five one-year contracts that include opt-outs for all signees after each year.

The return is good news for the LPGA, which has lost at least seven tournaments since 2007 because of the troubled economy. The tour lost one of its marquee events in September when Anheuser-Busch did not renew its sponsorship of the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill in Virginia after seven years.

“The timing was right,” Erensen said in a telephone interview from Atlantic City. “Events have been going away with the economy struggling. We had an opportunity to return to Atlantic City with ShopRite being the title sponsor. I think Atlantic City has missed this event since the day it left. Hopefully, it will return even bigger and better.”

Acting LPGA Commissioner Marty Evans was thrilled to have the ShopRite Classic back in the LPGA lineup.

“The rich history of this 21-year long event is woven in the fabric of the LPGA,” he said. “We look forward to continuing this tradition for many more years to come.”

Erensen said the tentative plans for 2011 are to hold the tournament the weekend after Memorial Day. He admitted that going against the U.S. Open might have been a concern had the men’s championship not been in California.

“I don’t think it will be a negative,” Erensen said. “Our feeling would be different if it was in the East Coast at Winged Foot or Baltusrol, but we should be finished before they even tee off.”

The 54-hole event will be televised by the Golf Channel.

Originally known as the Atlantic City Classic when it debuted in 1986, the tournament was played at several courses in the casino resort area with the first two and last nine years played at Seaview. The tournament was officially changed to the ShopRite LPGA Classic in 1992.

Previous tournament winners include Juli Inkster, Nancy Lopez, Betsy King and Annika Sorenstam.

The ShopRite Classic folded in 2006 after the previous organizers accused then-LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens of providing three unsuitable dates for the 2007 event.

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