LPGA Tour steps up schedule, competition in 2014

What will the new year in golf bring?

One thing for sure is more tournaments on the LPGA Tour.

Commissioner Mike Whan assembled a 32-tournament schedule featuring nearly $60 million in prize money. The season tees off in January for the first time in more than a decade with the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic.

The tour’s international make-up benefits from a tight race for the Rolex Ranking No. 1 spot. Since Yani Tseng’s slump a year ago, Inbee Park and Stacy Lewis have shared the top spot with Suzann Pettersen knocking on the down. Plus, 16-year-old Lydia Ko – who launches her first full season as a tour member in January – is igniting some additional energy.

Ko, a winner already on the LPGA Tour, is now 4th in the world rankings.

The Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, won by Ko in late 2013, is coming to San Francisco in 2014 as a new LPGA event. The tour also adds the Meijer LPGA Classic in Michigan and then Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in Alabama.

The tour will also announce another Asian event early next year. The tour’s International Crown debuts in July 2014 pitting four-player squads from qualifying countries.

The duel between Park, Lewis and Pettersen should continue – perhaps trading major championship as they go. Look for Lexi Thompson to continue to mature and advance her status weekly on tour and perhaps some growing pains for Ko, now on the road as a career.

Other Golf News:

  • Phil Mickelson, three legs into the Career Grand Slam, will be among the favorites to win the U.S. Open in Pinehurst come June 2014. Mickelson will also have to deal with the pressure associated with the championship. He is a six-time runner-up at the tournament.
  • The LPGA Tour is moving the Wegmans LPGA Championship from June to August in 2014. Tournament will be hosted Aug. 14-17.
  • The 37-year-old Henrik Stenson enters with the pressure of trying to follow up a career-year with another solid effort. The FedEx Cup and Race To Dubai champion is still looking for his first major title. He closed 2013 with Top 3 efforts at the Open Championship and PGA Championship.