For the first time in 13 years, the LPGA tournament schedule will begin in January next season. The LPGA has announced that the second-annual Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic will serve as the tour’s season-opening event when it returns to the Ocean Club Golf Course at Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas, January 20–26, 2014.
“It will be great to start our season in Paradise,” said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan. “Playing in The Bahamas in an East Coast time zone will be a great way for our fans to watch our season-opening event live on Golf Channel.”
The move takes the tournament from late May to late January in advance of the tour’s traditional February Asia-Pacific swing. In 2013, Ilhee Lee became a Rolex First-Time Winner with her victory at the inaugural Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, which was rain-shortened to 36 holes.
The last time the LPGA played an official money event in January was 2001, when three were contested during the month.
“The Bahamas are excited to be the season-opening event location for the LPGA tour in 2014. We think there is a special relationship between golf fans and early tour events as everyone dreams of summer and imagines the joy golf will bring them,” said David Johnson, director general of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. “These are certainly emotions we are happy to be associated with in The Bahamas. We fully expect that our weather will be picture perfect for this event and the players, and viewers, will get a good look at the attractions of our destination. Our islands are a year-round destination for golfers and this January kick-off for the ladies golf season will surely showcase that.”
In addition, the LPGA has announced that Des Moines, Iowa, will host the 2017 Solheim Cup. Des Moines Golf and Country Club, home of the 1999 U.S. Senior Open Championship that drew a record 252,800 spectators, will host the 15th playing of the Cup, which matches the best players from the United States against the best from Europe. The 2013 event, won by Europe, was staged in August at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colorado.
Des Moines Golf and Country Club will be the first 36-hole facility in the United States to host the Solheim Cup, allowing the PING Junior Solheim Cup to be held at the same venue. The PING Junior Solheim Cup, patterned after the Solheim Cup, features the top 12 girls from the United States against those from Europe.
Tournament officials also announced DuPont as the third global partner for the 2017 Solheim Cup, joining PING and Rolex.