The LPGA announced its 2016 schedule on Friday and players will compete for more than $63 million in total official prize money next season, the most in Tour history.
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan addressed the media at the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., and unveiled a schedule that will feature 34 events, an official money increase of $4 million and a record number of hours in television coverage.
The Tour will be featured in a record 410-plus hours of TV coverage and will be on network TV on the weekend at six events.
"Our team's focus has exclusively shifted from securing new events to enhancing the ones we have on the schedule," Whan said. "Increasing purses, number of weeks on network TV and creating more exposure for our events and players are the short-term goals we have set."
The Tour renewed 11 title sponsors this year, including Kia Motors, which announced an extension of the Kia Classic through 2018 earlier this week and HSBC, which announced a three-year extension and purse increase of the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore two weeks ago at the HSBC Golf Business Forum in Shanghai.
"Now that we've hit our target number of events on our schedule, we are now concentrating on ensuring our current partners are happy with being a part of the LPGA family and look forward to working with them to grow in their individual markets," Whan said.
The 2016 season will kick off at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic as it did two years ago in 2014. The event, which will increase its purse to $1.4 million, will also mark the start of the third year of the season-long Race to the CME Globe. The Coates Golf Championship will follow as the first domestic event on the schedule in Ocala, Fla.
Two weeks later, the Tour heads down under to Australia and the early Asia swing. All three events on that portion of the schedule -- the ISPS Handa Australian Women's Open, which will take place in Adelaide, the Honda LPGA Thailand and the HSBC Women's Champions -- have increased their purses for 2016.
The major season will start once again in the desert at the ANA Inspiration March 31-April 3 on the iconic Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif. All Nippon Airways, in its second year as title sponsor, will increase the total purse to $2.6 million.
The KPMG Women's PGA Championship will head to the Pacific Northwest to Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash., where it will host the second annual KPMG Women's Leadership Summit, which was an overwhelming success in its first year. Players will compete June 9-12 for the second-largest purse on Tour -- $3.5 million -- in an event that focuses on elevating and empowering women both on and off the golf course.
The U.S. Women's Open will head to CordeValle in San Martin, Calif., and be conducted July 7-10. It will mark the first time the championship will be held in the Bay Area and will feature the largest purse on Tour -- $4.5 million.
Woburn Golf Club outside London will host the RICOH Women's British Open for the 10th time. The $3 million event will take place July 28-31. The final major of the LPGA season, The Evian Championship, will be contested for the fourth time at Evian Golf Resort where Lydia Ko defends her record-setting title and players will compete Sept. 15-18 for a $3.25 million purse.
A condensed summer stretch, which features 11 consecutive events on the calendar, starts in May and runs through the end of July to accommodate for the Summer Olympic Games in mid-August. Included is the Tour's newest addition to the schedule -- the LPGA Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor, Mich., which will be staged May 26-29 at Travis Pointe Country Club.
Many LPGA players will have their first chance to compete on the largest stage in sports next summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games. Golf will make its return to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.
The 60-player field will be determined by the official world rankings. The top 15 world-ranked players will be eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players from a given country. Beyond the top 15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top 15. The field will be determined off the rankings as of July 11, 2016.
The LPGA also announced that the Oneida Nation has agreed to title sponsor a new event in 2017, the Oneida LPGA Classic, on the Oneida Reservation near Green Bay, Wis. The tournament will take place at Thornberry Creek at Oneida, a course owned by Oneida Nation and managed by the Oneida Golf Enterprise Corporation. The specific dates for the event will be announced later.