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Ladies British Open is LPGA's new major

Commissioner Ty Votaw named the Weetabix Women's British Open as the LPGA Tour's newest major, beginning in 2001, and released the Tour's 2001 schedule through Labor Day.

A part of the LPGA Tour since 1994, the Weetabix Women's British Open has joined The Nabisco Championship, the McDonald's LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women's Open as the LPGA Tour's four majors.

"The LPGA Tour is proud to designate the Weetabix Women's British Open as its newest major, beginning next year," said Votaw. "When we matched the event up to the criteria we established for a major championship, the Weetabix Women's British Open proved to be the most compelling choice for the long-term growth and success of the LPGA, as well as the overwhelming favorite among the media, our players and our fans."

In developing the guidelines required for a tournament to be considered a major, the LPGA established the following criteria:

  • A sense of tradition and prestige, both within the LPGA and the world of golf that would result in public acceptance of the event as a major.

  • A commitment to stage the event on a renowned, world-class golf course(s).

  • Financial resources consistent with a long-term commitment.

  • Television exposure and purse enhancements consistent with the LPGA's other majors.

  • Placement on the LPGA schedule which complements the LPGA's other majors and which does not conflict with other significant golf events.

"We chose the Weetabix Women's British Open because it met all the guidelines we were looking for in a major," said Votaw. "The Women's British Open carries with it the tradition, prestige and cache one associates with a major championship, and we have a sponsor in Weetabix that has demonstrated a long-term commitment to the LPGA and women's golf."

Like the U.S. Women's Open, the Weetabix Women's British Open rotates among the top courses in Britain. Courses currently on the rotation schedule include Turnberry, Sunningdale, Royal Lytham and Royal Birkdale, where this year's tournament was held.

For 2001, the tournament will boast a $1.5 million purse (a $250,000 increase), as well as network television coverage in the United States for the first time in the event's history. ABC Sports will televise the event in the United States, with the BBC providing coverage in the United Kingdom.

The 138-person field will include the top 15 finishers from the previous year's tournament, the top 70 players on the LPGA Tour's money list and up to five LPGA Tour players who qualify through a qualifying tournament held in the United States. The balance of the field includes players who qualify through the money lists for the Ladies European Tour, which also sanctions the event, and the Japanese LPGA, as well several top amateurs and past champions. The Women's British Open was first held in 1976.

"We are thrilled to achieve major status, and it is a great honor for everyone involved in the championship," said Sir Richard George, chairman of Weetabix."We have worked hard over the last few years to develop the competition and make it one of the highlights on the LPGA Tour and could not be happier or more committed to making the Weetabix Women's British Open even greater. I really appreciate the tremendous support of the LPGA players, and I look forward to welcoming them to Sunningdale next August."

Elizabeth Earnshaw, chairman of the Ladies' Golf Union, which conducts the competition, said, "We are delighted that the Weetabix Women's British Open has been elevated to major status. It is a great honor for us that our championship has been raised to the equivalent status in the women's game as the Royal & Ancient's Open holds in theirs."

 

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