The LPGA mistakenly released the 2011 schedule on their website on Sunday afternoon. It was removed when the tour caught the snafu, telling USA Today’s Joe Fleming that it was incomplete and posted due to a computer glitch. Whoops! Sources say don’t expect it to change much, though.
Here’s what was posted on the LPGA website via ProGolfTalk:
Honda LPGA Thailand
HSBC Women’s Champions
City of Industry, Calif.
Kraft Nabisco Championship
Rancho Mirage, CA
Tres Marias Championship
Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico
Avnet LPGA Classic
Sybase Match Play Championship
ShopRite LPGA Classic
LPGA State Farm Classic
Wegmans LPGA Championship
U.S. Women’s Open
Colorado Springs, CO
Evian Masters Presented by Société Générale
RICOH Women’s British Open
Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland
Imperial Springs LPGA
Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola
North Plains, Ore.
CN Canadian Women’s Open
Mirabel, Quebec, Canada
Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G
Navistar LPGA Classic
LPGA Hana Bank Championship
Incheon, South Korea
Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Yang Mei, Taoyuan, Taiwan
Shima-shi, Mie, Japan
Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex and Corona Light
From my count, that’s 10 full field events (not counting the US Women’s Open, which is run by the USGA).
At the LPGA Tour Championship last month, the players received a preliminary schedule at the annual meeting. Since it wasn’t “final,” they were instructed to stay mum. But inevitably, word got out and the chatter was that there were only nine full field events in North America.
Several sources, who wish to remain unnamed for obvious reason, say the schedule may be trimmed to eight tournaments. Commissioner Michael Whan is considering nixing the Tres Marias Championship in Morelia, Mexico, due to concerns over the drug cartel activity in the area. A source says Whan has the best interest of the ladies’ safety in mind — if he didn’t feel comfortable traveling there, then why would he send them?
The source added that Whan and the LPGA have promising deals in the works for 2012, but the ladies just need to get through 2011. More events for this year might come into fruition. The preliminary schedule presented was the minimum.
According to another source, the ladies, who earned their cards through Q-school in December, are guaranteed nine starts.
What else? Remember the confusion over the Category 20 status issue? The LPGA cited a mistake for the reason this status was extended to nine players. Basically, it creates more playing opportunities for these ladies, who now can try to get in tournaments through Monday qualifiers.
However, according to the first source, the LPGA issued a memo last month that said Monday qualifiers would be open to non-members, as well, and they would receive more information about the change in January. In the past, Monday qualifiers have been limited to LPGA members.
So, what’s the point of the Category 20 change? Well, if those ladies qualify and receive a check for their finish at an event, the money counts toward official LPGA money. Meanwhile, here’s a hypothetical situation: I decide to give it a shot and manage to get in a tournament via the Monday qualifier. Somehow I career it for four straight rounds and place 5th. The money I earn doesn’t put me on the official LPGA money list, so I can’t get membership through Monday qualifying by way through the season.
Essentially, it sounds similar to how sponsor exemptions are treated. 15-year-old phenom Alexis Thompson would have finished 30-something on the money list, but it didn’t count because she’s not a member. Thompson filed a petition with the LPGA, requesting double the allotted sponsors exemptions (six instead of twelve).
Perhaps this new Monday qualifying rule is a way to deal with the Thompson controversy? Just speculation on my part.
“We are focused on releasing the schedule right now for Jan 6,” an LPGA official told this site via email when asked for comment on the schedule and Monday qualifier change. “We will have some info re: Monday qualifiers next week.”