30 Apr 2020 | Professional golf |
Another radical LPGA shake-up
by Mark Hayes
The LPGA Tour has radically reshaped its 2020 schedule one more time as it plots a path through the Covid-19 crisis.
Having already juggled its schedule to keep as many key tournaments as possible afloat if and when play resumes, commissioner Mike Whan today made a series of significant decisions.
With an eye on a mid-July return if things progress as hoped, Whan said the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where Hannah Green will defend her first major crown, will be shifted from 25-28 June to 8-11 October.
The season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, originally scheduled for 19-22 November, has been pushed back to 17-20 December, the week following the already moved US Women's Open.
Whan made the tough call to cancel the UL International Crown and the hugely popular Founders Cup, along with the Lotte Championship, LA Open and Mediheal Championship.
"One thing that has become clear is that there will be no ‘opening bell’ regarding a return to safe play in this new ‘normal’ of the Covid-19 pandemic," Whan said.
"To be honest, being ‘first’ has never been the goal when it comes to returning to play in this new normal. We have built a schedule that we think is as safe as possible given what we know about travel bans, testing availability and delivering events that our sponsors and our athletes will be excited to attend.
"While July seems like a long way away, we are certainly aware that restarting our season in Michigan, Ohio and New Jersey will require a continued improvement in the situation in each of those states."
The Walmart NW Arkansas Championship has been pushed to 28-30 August, the Marathon Classic to 23-26 July, while the Meijer LPGA Classic has been rescheduled to October, the Pelican Women’s Championship to November and the Volunteers of America Classic to early December.
In brighter news, Whan announced increases to the purses of several 2020 tournaments, bringing the total available purse remaining for the year to more than $US56 million.
"Many of our remaining events will feature higher purses in 2020 thanks in part to some of our sponsors, who could not reschedule their events, offering some of their prize funds to increase other purses," he said.
"In what has been a very challenging year for everyone, we are so thankful to our partners for their creativity, collaboration and dedication to helping our athletes get the most out of the playing opportunities they will have in this unprecedented season."
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