LPGA goes heavy in So Cal with prize money approaching $90M
By DOUG FERGUSON
NAPLES, Fla. (AP) One year after navigating through the coronavirus pandemic, the LPGA released a 2022 schedule on Friday that features 34 tournaments with record prize money that is approaching $90 million.
Still to be determined is a third tournament in Florida in early February that will complete a three-event swing through the Sunshine State to start the year, along with courses for tournaments in Hawaii, Oregon and New Jersey.
The LPGA Tour is taking five events to Southern California, including consecutive weeks in Los Angeles and the final edition at Rancho Mirage of what is now The Chevron Championship, the first major of the year that will move to Houston in 2023.
Nineteen tournaments have prize money of at least $2 million, with the largest - for now - the CME Group Tour Championship at $7 million, with $2 million for the winner and $40,000 for last place.
The USGA has not announced the prize money for the U.S. Women's Open, which is expected to be significantly higher than the $5.5 million this year.
Mollie Marcoux Samaan, who became LPGA Tour commissioner in September after Mike Whan left to become CEO of the USGA, said women's golf was positioned for growth.
"This is our time," she said. "The momentum is with us. And we just think there's even more growth to come in so many different areas."
The official prize money announced Friday was $87.5 million, with nine tournaments announcing increases, three of them by $1 million or more.
South Korean television network JTBC has become the title sponsor of three tournaments, all of them in California. It takes over for Kia at the March 24-27 tournament at Aviara north of San Diego, and then has back-to-back tournaments in late April in Los Angeles at Palos Verdes Estates and Wilshire Country Club.
Along with Chevron in the California desert, the LPGA Mediheal Championship is moving from Lake Merced in San Francisco to The Saticoy Club, a William F. Bell design located in Ventura Country about 20 miles north of Thousand Oaks.
The schedule has a two-stop swing through Asia in March - Singapore and Thailand. The Blue Bay LPGA on Hainan Island in China is not on next year's schedule. The fall swing through Asia includes Shanghai, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. Because of travel restrictions from the pandemic, South Korea was the only event played this year.
The majors that rotate include Muirfield for the AIG Women's British Open, considered the purest of the links that only recently allowed women to join as members, and Congressional for the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, which has never hosted a premier women's event.
The U.S. Women's Open returns to Pine Needles in North Carolina.
The LPGA lost its tournament in Kingsmill, Virginia, but has a new event in Cincinnati. Also missing from the schedule is the International Crown, though maybe not for good.
Southern California and Florida each have five tournaments. The season again concludes with the Pelican Women's Championship in the Tampa Bay area and CME Group Tour Championship.
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Updated November 19, 2021