Yesterday brought an announcement marking the demise of a major the venerable LPGA Championship, since 2011 the Wegmans LPGA Championship, and in its place the birth of a new major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. The new event will be a collaboration between the LPGA, the PGA of America and KPMG as sponsor.
Beginning in 2015, the event will be run by the PGA and played at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York a suburb of New York City. The purse will increase to $3.5 million which is $250,000 larger than the Women’s U.S. Open purse this year and $1.25 million more than the 2014 LPGA Championship.
LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said he expected venues would be switched from year to year to other major markets but to remain mostly in the New York City area due to of KPMG’s business base.
First played in 1955, LPGA Championship was won by a who’s who in ladies golf including Mickey Wright, Betsy Rawls, Kathy Whitworth, Nancy Lopez, Juli Inkster, Annika Sorenstam and Se Ri Pak.
Industry opinion of the merger of interests between the PGA of America representing club professionals and the LPGA is this may well be a win-win situation. The PGA, 27,000 members of which a large number are women, gains a high profile event and a platform to help the game grow by attracting more women particularly younger women to play.
The LPGA gets a partner with immense financial resources and Ryder Cup, PGA Championship and other national tournament administration experience plus direct access to the thousands of PGA member running the nation’s golf facilitates.
The only loser would seem to be the Rochester, N.Y. community that since 1977 had supported a LPGA Tour stop. There’s no word whether Rochester will get another slot in LPGA schedule, a schedule that has gained more than ten tournaments since Whan took over as commissioner though approximately half the events are outside the United States.
Image of Stacy Lewis courtesy of PGA of America