LPGA revives season-opening Tournament of Champions event

The Ladies Professional Golf Association has announced that the Tournament of Champions will return as the season-opening event of its LPGA Tour schedule in 2019.

The LPGA has reached an agreement with Diamond Resorts, which will serve as the event’s title sponsor, to stage the inaugural edition of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions from January 17-20 next year. The event will be held at Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Resort Orlando in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

The Tournament of Champions will feature winners from the last two LPGA seasons, along with 45 celebrities and 10 amateurs, who will be paired with LPGA players for all four tournament days. The tournament will feature a prize fund of $1.2m (€971,000) for LPGA players, with the celebrities to compete for $500,000.

A number of sponsor exemptions will also be selected by Diamond Resots from all LPGA Tour winners. Professional players will play 72 holes of stroke play with no cut.

As part of the agreement with Diamond Resorts, all 2018 LPGA tournament winners will receive a TUMI Voyageur Calais Leather Backpack and a week-long stay at any Diamond Resorts-managed property.

The Tournament of Champions was previously held at various sites in the southeastern part of the US from 1994 to 2007. It was most recently staged at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Magnolia Grove Golf Course in Mobile, Alabama.

So far in 2018, four players have become eligible for the 2019 Tour of Champions. Brittany Lincicome (pictured) won the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, Jin Young Ko claimed victory at the Women’s Australian Open, Jessica Korda won the Honda LPGA Thailand and Michelle Wie emerged victorious at the HSBC Women’s World Championship.

These four players will be joined by the remaining 2018 winners, as well as 2017 champions Hanshan Feng, Brooke Henderson, Ha Na Jang, Eun Hee Ji, Ariya Jutanugarn, Danielle Kang, Cristie Kerr, In-Kyung Kim, Sei Young Kim, Katherine Kirk, Mi Hyang Lee, Mirim Lee, Stacy Lewis, Haru Nomura, Anna Nordqvist, Inbee Park, Sung Hyun Park, So Yeon Ryu, Lexi Thompson and Amy Yang.

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said: “This will be an experience like none other on our Tour, and it will be revered as a great reward for LPGA players who play well enough to make it into the winner’s circle every year.”