By DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer
Next year will be the last jump in “Poppie’s Pond”, ending 40 years of the only LPGA major held on the same course and still known in some corners simply as the Dinah Shore.
The LPGA Tour announced Tuesday that Chevron will become the title sponsor of the first major tournament of the year starting in 2023 with the intention of moving it from the California desert to the company’s headquarters in Houston.
He would replace ANA Inspiration on a six-year contract. ANA, based in Japan, has been the title sponsor of Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Since 2015.
The tournament celebrated its 50th anniversary in Mission Hills in April. He was designated a major in 1983, and it was Amy Alcott in 1988 who jumped into the pond around the 18th green to start perhaps the most famous tradition in women’s golf.
LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan spoke about building new traditions, and while key details remain to be worked out, the loss of so many traditions comes in exchange for a better date, improved television and a bigger handbag.
“This partnership will be a game-changer for the LPGA in many ways,” Marcoux Samaan said on a conference call. “This will allow us to take this major championship to new heights.”
She said the cash prize would increase 60% to $ 5 million, with $ 750,000 for the winner.
One of the key pieces of the puzzle is where the Chevron Championship will be played. IMG’s Ed McEnroe, who manages the tournament, said it would likely be in the Houston area.
The US Women’s Open was played last December at Champions Golf Club, home of Jack Burke Jr. and former host of the US Open, Ryder Cup and Tour Championship on the PGA Tour. Chevron is also said to be exploring Carlton Woods.
Marcoux Samaan said the Chevron Championship will have dedicated network coverage (ANA Inspiration was on Golf Channel). It is also essential to move the date one week before the Masters, especially with the recent addition of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. It’s also NCAA Basketball Final Four weekend.
The commissioner said he would remain the first major of the year, suggesting a late spring date.
“In the short term, our absolute goal is to make sure that the next ANA inspiration is truly a fitting final celebration for what will be 61 years of incredible history, fantastic golf drama and wonderful partnerships at Rancho Mirage,” said McEnroe.
Marcoux Samaan said she has only just started sharing the change with players, although the LPGA has posted several comments supporting the upgrade while sharing how much they will miss the Palm Springs lore in early spring. to start the major championship season.
All of the LPGA majors except the US Women’s Open have title sponsors, and the USGA is about to announce a main sponsor who would increase the scholarship for the Women’s Open. There was some concern that without a replacement for ANA, the Major would not be able to survive in the wilderness.
“I have tears in my eyes when I cross the bridge to the 18th green in Mission Hills. This course is so special to me and I’m very sad to go, ”said So Yeon Ryu, winner in 2017.“ But I also have confidence that Chevron will be a great partner for the LPGA Tour and have a good plan for it. the future of this major championship.
“I plan to help them ensure that the history and traditions we have built in Mission Hills move with the championship to its new location.”
Shore was a co-founder of the event and has remained a large part of the tournament. A statue of the late artist is positioned near the 18th green. Dinah Shore was part of the tournament name until 2000 when it was called the Nabisco Championship. The tournament has had three title sponsors in 50 years – Colgate, Nabisco and ANA.
McEnroe said Shore’s daughter Melissa Montgomery has been a “fantastic sounding board” over the years.
“We have every intention of staying in tune with the history, tradition and values of the founders,” he said.
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