Altvater: LPGA opens 2012 season Down Under at Royal MelbourneWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
The LPGA will begin the 2012 season at Royal Melbourne. The famous Australian landmark was the site of the Presidents Cup in November and will host the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open this week.
Royal Melbourne will play at 6,505 yards with a par of 73 for the ladies. The Women’s Australian Open will offer a $1.1 million dollar purse, an increase of $400,000 from 2011. It is co-sanctioned by the Australian LPGA, the Ladies European Tour (LET) and, for the first time, the LPGA.
Annika Sorenstam collected her first professional win at the 1994 Women’s Australian Open. The 1994 event was also the maiden professional tournament for Karrie Webb, who has won the event four times over her illustrious career. Yani Tseng, winner in 2010 and 2011, will be seeking her third consecutive Women’s Australian Open trophy.
There is a lot of buzz surrounding the start of the LPGA season. In the off-season LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan announced four new events that will add nearly $7 million in prize money.
After the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, the LPGA schedule features tournaments in Thailand and Singapore to round out February.
The LPGA will finally hit the continental United States with three events in March. The RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup will be held in Phoenix. The Kia Classic and the first women’s major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, will both be held in southern California.
Yani Tseng has dominated the women’s tour over the past two years. The special exemption made by the LPGA to allow 17-year-old Alexis Thompson to compete on the tour adds an air of excitement and anticipation to the LPGA season.
Thompson has already won twice, once on the LPGA and she also won in Dubai on the LET.
If Lexi and Yani could be factors on leader boards or better yet if Lexi could win out over Yani in one of these early season events, fan interest would skyrocket.
The LPGA needs an American player to become the face of the women’s tour. Commissioner Whan has the tour going in the right direction. He just needs the players to step up and keep the train rolling down the tracks.
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