LPGA releases 2016 schedule with increased purses

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NAPLES, Fla. – Purses on the LPGA Tour will rise by $4 million in 2016, and officials are aiming for a second event in China.

The tour released next year’s schedule on Friday, with 33 events – two of which will be in Canada. Purse money will rise from $59.1 million to $63.1 million, a tournament has been added in Michigan and the LPGA will take a three-week break to accommodate the return of golf to the Olympics in August.

“Stability with growth,” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said. “We’ve had some dramatic things we needed to address in the last six years … and the numbers, I think, kind of speak for themselves.”

In 2011, the LPGA had 23 official events and $40.5 million in purse money with 220 hours of television coverage. The TV hours will increase again to about 410 next year. The LPGA also announced Friday a partnership with the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin for a tournament that will start in 2017 and offer a $2 million purse.

“It’s an exciting time,” Whan said.

The 2016 schedule starts with five tournaments in five different countries, matching the layout of the past two years. The season begins in the Bahamas in late January, and the first event in the U.S. is the Coates Golf Championship at Ocala, Florida. It ends Saturday, Feb. 6, and won’t conflict with Super Bowl 50 the next day in Santa Clara, California.

The five majors are the ANA Inspiration ending April 3, the Women’s PGA Championship ending June 12, the U.S. Women’s Open ending July 10, the Women’s British Open ending July 31, and The Evian Championship ending Sept. 18. The Olympic field will be set the day after the Women’s Open, meaning a chance exists that the British Open champion might not be Rio-bound.

“The Olympics is making 2016 a little more crowded than a typical LPGA schedule in the middle of the summer,” Whan said. “But it’s a great problem to have when you have to get condensed because you’re about to play in the Olympics for the first time in 100 years.”

Golf Canada’s Canadian Pacific Women’s Open will be held Aug. 22-28  in Calgary, with a $2.25 M purse.  The other Canadian event – the Manulife LPGA Classic – will be held the following week from Aug. 29-Sept. 4 in Cambridge, Ont. with a $1.6 M purse.

China was expected to host two events in 2015, though one was canceled about two weeks before the start. The LPGA plans to return for an event that ends Oct. 2. Whan said he’s confident the second tournament – which is still listed as TBD on the schedule – will come together as planned.

Other nations on the 2016 schedule besides Canada and the U.S. include: Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and Mexico.

Next season ends again at the CME Group Tour Championship on Nov. 20 in Naples, Florida.