LPGA releases beefed up schedule for 2017 season

LPGA pros will get to play in more events and for more money again next year.

The LPGA will feature 34 official events in 2017, 35 with the Solheim Cup, according to the schedule released Wednesday.

That’s one more official event than was played this year.

Total purses will be up to $67.35 million, surpassing this year’s total of $63 million in official events.

“I’m excited about the opportunities our 2017 tournament schedule provides to our players with increased purses, tremendous television exposure and our biggest events elevating to new heights,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “While we receive credit for being a global tour, we’re just as proud that we’ve added more events in North America since 2011 then we have abroad. It’s an exciting time for our organization and we cannot wait to start another great season in January.”

The new schedule features four new events, the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Ladies Open, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open, the Indy Women in Tech event at Brickyard Crossing in Indianapolis and the Thornberry Creek Classic in Green Bay, Wis.

The LPGA lost events in San Francisco (Swinging Skirts Classic), Alabama (Yokohama Tire Classic) and Ocala, Fla. (Coates Golf Championship), but Swinging Skirts stays on as a title sponsor, replacing Fubon at the Taiwan Championship.

Notably, Lorena Ochoa’s event is becoming the Lorena Ochoa Match Play Championship. Sixty-four players will compete for $1.2 million, with the event moving from the fall to spring (May 4-7).

Whan’s mandate when he took over as commissioner seven years ago was to rebuild the tour’s schedule, which had withered down to 23 events in 2011 with title sponsors abandoning in bunches. The ‘17 schedule features 11 more official events than the tour played in 2011, with seven more North American events and $26 million more in prize money.

While next year’s domestic schedule is substantially stronger than it was in 2011, it does feature one fewer domestic event than it did this year.

Purses are up in 11 events, including four of the five majors, with the U.S. Women’s Open still the tour’s top purse, increasing from $4.5 million to $5 million next year.