lpga+logoNext year’s LPGA Tour will grow to 34 tournaments with a record prize money total of $63.1 million (59.2 million euros) and Olympic gold at stake, commissioner Mike Whan said Friday.

Whan unveiled a lineup that boosts the season’s total tournament purse by $4 million. United States courses will host 19 events, including three of the five majors.

Women’s Olympic golf, contested only in 1900 when Margaret Abbott led an American podium sweep, returns to the Games at Rio de Janeiro next August. The LPGA’s other new event in 2016 is the Volvik Championship from May 26-29 at Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The LPGA renewed 11 tournament sponsorship deals this year, including events in Shanghai and Singapore.

“Our team’s focus has exclusively shifted from securing new events to enhancing the ones we have,” Whan said. 

“We’re now concentrating on ensuring our current partners are happy with being a part of the LPGA family.”

The 2016 season will begin at the Bahamas LPGA Classic on January 28-31 with the Coates Championship following a week later in Ocala, Florida.

The Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide, the LPGA Thailand tournament and the LPGA Women’s Champions event in Singapore follow in late February and early March.

The next 17 tournaments will be staged on US courses, including the season’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration March 31-April 3 at Rancho Mirage, California.

The second major, the Women’s PGA Championship, will be played at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington, on June 9-12 for the second-largest purse on offer, $3.5 million.

The US Women’s Open will be played in the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time on July 7-10 at CordeValle in San Martin, California, and offer the biggest purse at $4.5 million.

Two weeks later will come the International Crown, the second edition of the biennial LPGA team competition won last year by Spain.

The following week will feature the Women’s British Open at Woburn Golf Club outside on July 28-31 with the Olympic women’s competition next on the programme three weeks later.

A 60-player Olympic field will be determined by the world rankings of July 11, 2016. 

The top 15 players will be eligible for Rio with a limit of four players from any nation. 

Beyond the top 15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings with a maximum of two from each nation that does not already have two or more in the top 15.

After two events in Canada, the final women’s major will be staged in France on September 15-18 with New Zealand teen star Lydia Ko defending her first major crown at the $3.25 million Evian Championship.

The LPGA then visits Asia for events in China, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan before finishing with the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico and the Tour Championship next November.

The LPGA also announced that the Oneida Nation of Native Americans will sponsor a new event in 2017 at its Thornberry Creek layout near Green Bay, Wisconsin. – Agence France-Presse

- Advertisement -