LET players vote to partner with the LPGA

LET players vote to partner with the LPGA

LPGA Tour

LET players vote to partner with the LPGA

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At the Ladies European Tour’s player meeting on Tuesday in Spain, Mike Whan laid out the details of a plan that would unite the LPGA with the struggling European tour.

Players voted in overwhelming favor of the 50-50 proposal.

Spain’s Azahara Munoz, who keeps up membership on both the LPGA and LET, said it almost sounded too good to be true.

“(Players) literally couldn’t believe how good everything Mike was telling us,” said Munoz. “Pretty much there nothing to lose from us. Nothing.”

Whan told the LPGA board that he believed it was the tour’s responsibility to help boost the tour in Europe. While there likely won’t be an immediate pathway to the LPGA in terms of automatic cards like the Symetra Tour, he sees that day coming. The initial move would provide access to LPGA Q-Series.

“Two teams, joining for one common purpose, will create opportunities we simply could not have pursued on our own,” said LET Board Chair Marta Figueras-Dotti in a statement. “At its foundation, this joint venture is about creating opportunities for our members to pursue their passion, and their careers as professional athletes. In just the 60 days since we began working on this joint venture, we have already seen a dramatic impact on our LET Tour schedule – an impact that will be a positive result for virtually all of our LET Members.”

Earlier today it was announced that the tournament prize fund for the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de Espana would double for 2020 from €300,000 to €600,000.

In addition, the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit will be renamed the ‘Race to Costa del Sol’, with an additional bonus pool of €250,000, split between the top three finishers.

“I want to make sure the European Tour players know that this is not some American growth strategy,” the LPGA commissioner said last week at the CME Group Tour Championship. “I’m not expecting to make money at the LET.”

Munoz competes primarily on the LPGA, but said she wanted to see European players have more opportunities.

“When I go back to Europe and play, you can tell that they haven’t been competing,” said Munoz. “Some of them have a second job. it’s so hard to compete at a high level not playing.”

In 2008 the LET had 28 tournaments. In 2017 it dropped to 15 events.

This year’s schedule includes 20 tournaments, but three of those are jointly sanctioned by the LPGA: AIG Women’s British Open, Evian Championship, Ladies Scottish Open. They’ll play for almost $15 million this season, though roughly $10 million comes from those three co-sanctioned tournaments. The LPGA competed for $70.2 million this season.

“I think by coming together and providing some pathway to the LPGA … we engage country federations throughout Europe who have money to spend on women’s sport,” said Whan, “but they need a – they need to make sure that that path can lead to Olympic athletes and people that can live on the top of the Rolex world rankings. And they know that path to the LPGA is required to do that.”

Whan compared the LET’s current state with how the LPGA looked in 2009 before he came on board.

“The majority of the tour is very grateful for this offer, that’s for sure,” said Beth Allen, an American who 2016 Player of the Year title in Europe and continues to compete there full time.

England’s Meghan MacLaren said the excitement runs deep among LET players.

“The LET has had a product with so much to give to the golf world,” said MacLaren, “but it hasn’t had the resources to show that. For the first time in a long time that has the opportunity to change. For the first time in a long time we can believe in our future, we can believe that the rest of the world will buy into what we get to be a part of every day.”

 

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