Golf / Sports

LPGA Championship gets an upgrade with new partnerships

Founded in 1955, the LPGA Championship is the oldest tournament on the LPGA Tour, and enjoyed a successful 11-year run at DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Del., with McDonald's as the title sponsor.

But the association has decided to take the championship up a notch, announcing Thursday that it has partnered with the PGA of America and KPMG, a professional business services company, to create the KPMG Women's PGA Championship starting next year at Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y.

The event, which is expected to rotate to other major metropolitan markets, will provide a boost in prize money from $2.25 million, the purse for this year's Wegman's LPGA Championship near Rochester, N.Y., to $3.5 million and receive weekend national television coverage on NBC.

"For us, this is a major step in supporting the women's game," Pete Bevacqua, the chief executive officer of the PGA of America, said Thursday at a news conference in New York.

"Between purse size, business opportunity, venue opportunity and what's going to happen from a television partnership perspective, this is going to elevate women's golf," LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said.

Under the leadership of the late Herb Lotman, chairman of Keystone Foods Co., and McDonald's owner-operator Frank Quinn, the McDonald's LPGA Championship ran from 1994 through 2004 at DuPont Country Club, before moving to BulleRock in Havre de Grace, Md., from 2005 through 2009. Wegman's took over as title sponsor in 2010 and moved the event to the Rochester area.

During that time, Annika Sorenstam and Se Ri Pak won the championship three times each, and Juli Inkster and Laura Davies picked up a pair of titles.

Karrie Webb won the 2001 McDonald's LPGA Championship at DuPont Country Club. While she likes the prospects of what will happen, she is a bit hesitant to see the name change.

"As someone who loves the tradition of the game, it will be tough to see the name change away from 'LPGA Championship,' " she said. "But it's comforting that the traditions, legacy and opportunities for our members will still remain. For younger players on Tour, they can be confident that this tremendous championship will continue for decades to come and be bigger and better than ever before."

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