SBD/January 15, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

LPGA '13 Schedule Includes Three New Events; Tour's TV Exposure At All-Time High

The LPGA today announced a '13 season schedule that features 28 tournaments, $49M in total prize money and more than 300 hours of event coverage on Golf Channel and other TV networks, the most in LPGA history. Every North American stop and 27 of the 28 events will be televised globally. The three new events on the schedule include the $1.8M Reignwood Pine Valley LPGA Classic in Beijing, which kicks off the tour's Fall Asian Swing the first week of October. The LPGA today also announced that CME Group has signed a multiyear extension to sponsor the season-ending CME Group Titleholders through '16 (LPGA). USA TODAY's Steve DiMeglio notes the Reignwood Pine Valley LPGA Classic is the "third addition to the 2013 schedule in less than a week," and there "could be one more tournament to add." LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan yesterday said, "By no means are we done. This is just part of the process, for next year and beyond. I'm confident we have one more to add. There is one still coming." DiMeglio notes while the tour lost two tournaments, the new events "mean a net gain of one from 2012 to 28 official events." That is five more than in '11. Total purses will be "just below" $49M this year, nearly $2M more than in '12 and $6.5M more than in '11. Additionally, the tour "doesn't have an unwanted three-week break in 2013" (USA TODAY, 1/15).

FOLLOWING THROUGH ON HIS WORD: Whan said, "I've said to the players since the day I started that 30 to 32 events in my mind makes for a great season. Gives us enough break, gives us an offseason and that makes for powerful events. And the good news is I think the players have understood the reason for that.” Whan added of the event he hopes to add later this year, “We know the sponsor, we know the location. We're still figuring out some final details on contract and venue ... and working out final TV details.” Whan noted six of the eight new tournaments added in recent years are based in North America. However, he said of the balance between events in North America and overseas, “You can’t be golf’s global tour and do it from your desk or with an e-mail. You’ve got to go. If you want to grow women’s golf worldwide, you’ve got to make an impact worldwide. We’re proud of the fact that we travel. ... At the same time we didn’t want to be nomadic. We didn’t want to not have a home. So in our 28 official events, 18 are here in North America.” Each of the new events call for 72 holes to be played, and Whan said, “I’m not a fan of three-day events. ... I really believe that four days provides the best champion over the course. We do have a few three-day events. They’re generally driven by huge pro-ams, customers that are really going to bring in a lot.” Whan noted he “hasn’t really added any three-day events" since he took the position. He said, "Doesn’t mean I won’t, it just means if we can do a four-day event it’s preference on Tour” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 1/15).
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